July 1 is the start of the new fiscal year for the Town of Marana, and it is always an exciting time for us. Not only does the new budget go into effect, but it is a period where we start to look forward to the next year and beyond. Less than a week before the new fiscal year began, the expansion to the water reclamation facility was complete and impacted not only the near future for North Marana, but the long-term growth of our community.
With Marana being one of the fastest-growing communities in the state and north Marana seeing most of the future development, it was vital that we expanded the facility. Marana took over the facility from Pima County in 2012 with the ability to treat 500,000 gallons per day. In 2016 the facility was operating at 70-75 percent of capacity under normal, everyday conditions. Over the following two years, the Saguaro Bloom community linked to the system and the facility came very close to reaching capacity.
Of the 818 single-family residential permits issued in the prior fiscal year, 287 were for Northwest Marana.
The Town Council voted to fund the expansion in 2016 and the project went on line two years later this June. Now, the wastewater facility can treat triple its previous capacity, equating to a total of 1.5 million gallons per day. Marana can now handle up to 10,000 new homes or businesses coming into the area.
The previous treatment process was being challenged by continuous growth and changing influent conditions. The new facility is providing a cleaner final product and in a more efficient manner.
The new process, called conventional activated sludge treatment, uses bacteria and biological matter to break down waste and help purify the water. The facility utilizes two separate treatment trains that can treat up to 750,000 gallons per day each. The two treatment trains also allow for redundancy should maintenance be required. This expansion was designed to allow further expansion with room for additional basins, which was another reason that they selected this process.
Even though the new facility is able to treat more water than the previous process, the new system will actually be smaller than the original lagoon. Maintaining the square footage and the value of the property was very important to the Town.
The reason Town Council decided to enter the sewer business was to enhance Marana’s water portfolio. The recharge facility, when finished, will recharge 100 percent of the effluent from the new water reclamation facility. Marana will receive recharge credits for 100 percent of the water stored in the facility from the Arizona Department of Water Resources. These credits allow the town to provide safe, reliable and sustainable resources to our customers, who invest so much in our community.
We are in the final stages of this expansion project and could not be more excited to see everything come on line. Over the next few weeks we will get final approval to fully turn on the the recharge basin and in the early fall we will be hosting a formal ribbon cutting to celebrate the project and all of the benefits it will provide to Marana.
This wastewater expansion was necessary to ensure that North Marana can continue to grow and thrive. We are thrilled that we can play such an important role in the future of the community.
John Kmiec is the Marana Water Director. Scott Schladweiler is the Town’s Deputy Water Director.