I-10 sewer plants to get $1B upgrade
Nick Smith/The Explorer, A new water reclamation campus will be built next to the Roger Road Wastewater Treatment Facility in the coming years.

The sewer smell along Interstate 10 could go away thanks to a $1 billion plan to upgrade two nearby treatment plants.

The Ina road and Roger road facilities are expected to get facelifts over the next 15 years in order to keep up with wastewater demands.

The Ina facility will be expanded to accommodate 50 million gallons per day. A new 32-million-gallon water reclamation campus will replace the aging 41-million-gallon Roger Road plant, which went online in the 1950s.

An interconnecting 72-million-gallon pipeline will also be built to handle overflow from either plant.

A 2006 estimate put the project at $536 million, but factoring in inflation and the cost of bonding and debt service needed to fund the project, the whole thing could end up costing more than a billion dollars, said Pima County Wastewater Reclamation Department Director Michael Gritzuk.

While a brand new water reclamation campus will be built adjacent to the existing Roger Road facility, the Ina Road facility will receive an estimated $245,000 upgrade.

“Virtually every structure in this plant will be touched in one way or another,” Gritzuk said.

The Ina plant expansion will not cut into the nearby sports park, Gritzuk said. 

The service area of the Ina plant crosses into Marana, something that will impact the town’s plan to establish a wastewater utility of its own.

“We’re still moving forward with trying to access wastewater services,” said Marana’s Assistant Utilities Director Dorothy O’Brien.

Marana residents who don’t rely on a septic tank get their wastewater treated either at the Ina facility or at the Marana Wastewater Treatment Facility on the northwest side of town, the ownership of which is currently in dispute. 

Marana seeks to establish a wastewater utility, which would provide services for the people living in the 242-square-mile area outlined in the town’s general plan. As many Marana residents use the Ina plant, an agreement between the town and county will have to be reached for that service to continue until the town can build its own reclamation plant.

The designs for the new plants need to get approval under the Pima Association of Government’s water quality plan. The next step for the project is to review any public comments and get regional, state and federal approval.

The Ina Road plant serves a 198-square-mile area roughly north of River Road, while the Roger Road facility serves a 275-square-mile area south of River Road and as far east as Colossal Cave Park.

The design process has already begun, and there could be shovels in the ground as early as next year for some portions of the project. While the two treatment plants are scheduled to wrap up construction by 2014, the existing Roger Road plant likely won’t be demolished until several years later.

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