Wally Howard has been looking for a fix to the Adonis Mobile Home Park’s septic problems for 25 years. Finally, a solution is on the horizon.

The north Marana colina, incorporated into the town in 1995, owns and maintains its own sewer system. The two sludge-filled lagoons containing the processed wastewater look as if they’re on the verge of overflowing.

“And if it does, we’ve got a problem on our hands,” Howard said. “If it keeps up the way it is now, it’s not gonna be sustainable.”

On the Homeowners Association Board of Directors, Howard has been in Adonis for 31 years and watched it grow to the 142 homes it is now. The term “mobile home” may be a little misleading—many of the homes in Adonis are firmly rooted, with gardens, white-picket fences and the like. Howard said the septic system, which has been in operation since the ’70s, was just not designed to serve that many families.

The system takes in about 20,000 to 25,000 gallons a day, which is the maximum it was designed for, according to John Kmiec, the town’s water/wastewater director.

The Adonis residents do what they can to conserve water: no running water while brushing teeth and no enjoying a long hot shower. The residents put in an evaporative sprinkler system a bit over a week ago, but Howard said that’s nothing more than a bandaid.

Because of the system’s decaying infrastructure and threat of environmental hazard, the Marana Town Council unanimously voted at the May 15 council meeting to take over the Adonis wastewater conveyance system and build a sewer lift station that will convey the neighborhood’s sewage north to the Marana municipal sewer collection in the San Lucas neighborhood close by. 

The town will cover the cost of the project with a $1.5 million loan from the Arizona Water Infrastructure Financing Authority. Half the loan is a “forgivable principal,” essentially a grant that the town will never have to pay back. The other half has a low interest and fee rate, at 2.7 percent. 

The loan will cover the cost of cleaning and repairs to the existing system, design and construction of a new lift station and payment of associated wastewater impact fees to the town. 

“The conveyance system is in horrific shape,” said Rachel Whitaker, Marana’s grant manager, who played a large role in attaining the loan. “It’s at a critical level. They really need assistance, and the town supports their residents.”

The town anticipates starting the project in the winter of 2019.  

Adonis drainage problems

While the sewer system is Adonis’ most critical issue, it’s not the only one. The colina also has consistent drainage problems. Because of flat roads, puddles gather after a rain or water leak and remain for days. Back when the area was constructed, the roads didn’t meet Pima County standards. 

The sides of the road are also deteriorating, leaving the roadway not much wider than one-car width. The end of Howard’s driveway is a few feet from the edge of the road, with crumbling pavement in between. He said it used to be flush with the pavement.

The town has performed some road maintenance since incorporating the colina. But now, the roads have just about come to the end of their service life, said town engineer Keith Brann.

Marana knew about the substandard streets when its incorporated the colina, but the town has been focused on reconstructing streets beyond their service life in other colinas and subdivisions, such as Honea Heights and in Continental Ranch. 

In 2017, Marana did a feasibility study to look Adonis roads’ elevation issues and decide what could be done. The town budgeted $420,000 to raise the roads on one end and lower them on the other, and planned to reconstruct between 2019 and 2023. But now, the roads and drainage issues are on hold until the sewer system is completed. 

Adonis’ sewer pipes run under the roads, and until the town figures out how much of them need to be replaced, road repair is on hold.

Howard said he’d love to see sidewalks one day, but added that’s probably a pipedream.

“When people take walks in the evening, they have to walk in the street, which is not only unsafe, it’s a pain in the butt,” he said. “But the township under Mayor Ed Honea has really come through and helped us in ways we never expected.”

When it comes to Adonis, Honea said Marana is not going to abandon its people. 

“We take care of our own,” he said.

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