The Section 11 Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) continues to be a very high priority for EPCOR’s management direction. We’re committed to transparent communications with customers on the actions we’re taking to improve conditions at the facility.
The challenge: In a nutshell, the Section 11 plant is not processing and treating wastewater as it was designed to do. There are many reasons for this including years of deferred maintenance, non-working mechanical parts and the amount of wastewater coming into the plant.
As a result, some customers are experiencing intermittent odor issues and have been for several years. The Section 11 plant has not been meet permitting requirements for water and air quality for many years and EPCOR is working to address these compliance issues.
In short, because of a lack of maintenance over many years and because the amount of wastewater flowing to this facility exceeds the capacity it was built for, it is negatively impacting the plant’s ability to function properly. To address this, EPCOR has put emergency measures in place to reduce the amount of wastewater entering the Section 11 plant.
The long-term solution: The long-term solution to Section 11 is to decommission the plant and replace it with a new one. The new facility, the Copper Basin WWTP, is in the planning phase with an estimated cost of $35 million. Working out the long-term legal, regulatory, and capital processes takes time, and we appreciate customers’ patience. Since taking over as interim manager, the Section 11 plant has remained one of many priorities for EPCOR’s operations, engineering, water quality and environmental compliance experts – the size of this capital project requires owner involvement and ACC staff approval.
What we’re already doing: Most recently, EPCOR secured permission from the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) for an above-ground, emergency wastewater pipeline that is now redirecting over 220,000 gallons per day of wastewater from Section 11 to the Anthem Wastewater Reclamation Plant. Please note that while the pipeline meets all safety regulations for this type of structure, we request that the public not approach it. You can learn more about the exact location of the pipeline on www.johnsonutilities.com.
We’re also repairing or replacing individual parts of the Section 11 infrastructure that have been inoperable for many years so the facility as a whole can operate as it was designed to do. For example, we’re repairing the failed weir effluent structures that will allow proper flow of wastewater through the plant. We’re cleaning and repairing distribution lines and have re-lined Treatment Basin #2. Through these and other efforts, we are seeing improvements in the wastewater treatment process at Section 11.
Finally, we’re making progress on odor control and monitoring. We report odor monitoring results every week to the Pinal County Air Quality Control District and odor mitigation efforts to date include sealing up headworks, regulating water levels, chemical additions to the treatment process, increasing contact time with aerators, and more.
Some of these actions to remedy odor issues may result in minor periodic odor emissions. We understand that issues with odor are unpleasant and appreciate customers’ patience as we address them.
EPCOR values input and questions from Johnson Utilities customers, and we appreciate your continued cooperation as we work every day to improve your water and wastewater service.
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