Troubled Plant That Was Scheduled To Close Now Looks To Increase Capacity Under New Proposed Build

Section 11 Wastewater Treatment Plant, the same plant that has been an ongoing burden to the Oasis at Magic Ranch community, is potentially going to increase capacity by four times the current amount. This is the same location that has had ongoing, weekly violations of Hydrogen Sulfide exceedances, along with the occasional sanitary sewer overflow, and horrendous odors.

This is the same plant that Johnson Utilities recently announced that it would be closing and went out of its way to thank Supervisor Todd House for his assistance in their press release from June 6th, as seen here:

“Johnson Utilities would like to acknowledge the efforts and tireless encouragement of Todd House, Chairman of the Pinal County Board of Supervisors. Chairman House’s constructive dialogue with management of Johnson Utilities assisted the development of the plan to decommission the existing Section 11 WWTP and construct the new Copper Basin WRP.” Full press release can be viewed here.

Now, exactly one month to the day (ADEQ’s public notice went out on July 6, 2018), ADEQ announced a public notice of a plan that will quadruple the capacity of the plant. The far more troubling aspect of this is the perception of questionable actions by ADEQ as they have not informed anyone within the community that this is taking place. ADEQ posted the notice in the AZ Republic and the Casa Grande Dispatch. Neither target the San Tan Valley area. Additionally, the location of the public hearing is located in Florence as opposed to a location within the San Tan Valley community. ADEQ knows the problems that San Tan Valley has faced in regards to the water utility, which makes the lack of communication and transparency all the more frustrating and potentially troubling.

Residents that we have spoken with feel this is intentional to avoid the attention of San Tan Valley residents. At this point, San Tan Times has to agree with this sentiment until we hear back from ADEQ.

The current capacity of Section 11 Wastewater Treatment Plant is 1.6 million gallons per day. If the proposed project is approved the final phase of the project would increase the capacity to 6.4 million gallons per day. This is coming from a plant that is already incapable of handling the current capacity.

Fact Sheet Documents from ADEQ show that a new facility will be built at the location of the Waste Water Treatment Plant:

This permit authorizes the permittee to operate the existing Johnson Utilities Section 11 Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP), and the new plant that will be constructed on the site of the existing plant in two phases. At full build-out of the new WWTP, the plant will have the capacity to collect and treat up to a maximum monthly average flow (MMAF) of 6.4 million gallons per day (mgd), but permitted flow shall be limited to 4.5 mgd until 6.4 mgd of disposal capacity is demonstrated under an APP amendment, as per Section 3.0, Compliance Schedule, Item No. 29.

This “new” plant could very well solve all the problems that have existed in the Oasis at Magic Ranch. It could be a well-founded, properly planned, and correct direction to head. But, every step of the way the residents of the area are constantly lied to, not kept up to date with plans and directions, and information seems to be intentionally hidden from residents of the area. This current situation falls directly on to ADEQ for not properly informing and reaching out to the residents of San Tan Valley.

  • Why is a “new plant” being built at this location when the plant was announced that it would be closing and a new plant would be built near the Copper Basin Community?
  • Why has ADEQ not communicated with the community on this proposed project?
  • Why did the public notices go to media outlets that are not focused on San Tan Valley?
  • Why is the public hearing outside of the San Tan Valley community and located in Florence?
  • Who developed these plans for the upgraded Section 11 Wastewater Treatment Plant and how does the community know it will be properly developed and maintained?

San Tan Times will followup when these questions are answered by ADEQ.