Recently, newly elected Marana Town Council Member Dave Bowen authored an opinion piece in The Explorer about wastewater issues (July 6, 2011, “Marana should oversee local wastewater issues”). Unfortunately, Mr. Bowen has not been afforded all of the facts regarding this matter.

First, we do not, and never have, disputed the fact that Marana is entitled to the effluent from the North Marana treatment facility. Second, the studies, if examined closely, will indicate the cost of providing wastewater treatment services at the North Marana facility is higher than the average regional treatment cost throughout Pima County. Third, we have never disputed Marana’s land-use destiny or its ability to chart its own course regarding growth.

Our wastewater utility provides service to those who request it when it is physically and legally available. We do not pick and choose who gets to connect to and receive wastewater treatment services.

The claim that we have exercised veto power over development projects within Marana is false and has been proven inaccurate. On only five occasions have we not been able to provide sewer service to those who may have indicated a desire to connect to the North Marana treatment facility. 

This is because the sewer service contracts to this facility are oversubscribed as compared to treatment capacity even though the plant is only operating at one-third of its actual capacity. This is the result of rules enacted, not by Pima County, but by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. These rules prohibit connections to the facility when theoretical contracts for service exceed capacity.

We asked the Town of Marana to assist us in remedying this clearly inappropriate and unfair rule given the current economic climate. Marana declined. We have, therefore, pursued relief on our own, and it is estimated that by the end of this year, this artificial constraint to growth, not caused or created by Pima County, will be eliminated, allowing any of the five separate developers to connect at the time of their choosing.

To claim somehow that the Pima County Board of Supervisors is controlling growth in Marana through wastewater services is inaccurate and, unfortunately, is another false reason for Marana to pursue their takeover of County-financed wastewater treatment facilities at substantially less than fair market value.

We ask that Marana ends its efforts to take regional wastewater facilities financed and paid for by others without paying the County for our cost of building and financing the facility.

Chuck Huckelberry is Pima County Administrator.

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