It’s been nearly two decades in the making. The city’s 2017 Wastewater Master Plan Update is the first of its kind since 2000.
In it, city staff has provided an overview and evaluation of the existing wastewater system, including a capacity analysis and condition assessment of pipes and lift stations, and a review of operation and maintenance practices.
The Sedona City Council got a look at the update during its Nov. 29 meeting. Wastewater Manager Roxanne Holland said the city’s wastewater collection system consists of 85 miles of gravity sewer lines, 1,950 manholes, and 17 lift stations. It covers approximately 19 square miles with 6,800 connections.
Since the last update, there have been significant collection system changes and reconsideration of plans to expand the system to various locations in the city. Currently, the treatment plant handles an average of 1.13 million gallons of wastewater a day.
The Arizona Department of Environmental quality allows up to 2 million gallons a day at the plant, which has a maximum capacity of 1.4 million gallons a day. A capacity analysis performed by consultant Eric McLeskey, of Carollo Engineers, identified four capital improvement projects that are needed in the next five years. They include:
- The 8-inch sewer main on State Route 179, upstream of the pedestrian bridge near Tlaquepaque, needs to be upsized to a 12-inch main. This is a new project and is not budgeted in the 10-year capital improvement projects. Estimated project cost: $303,000
- The 12-inch Brewer Road force main needs to be upsized to a 16-inch force main. This project is budgeted for Fiscal Year 2018-19. Estimated project cost: $1,428,800
- The Mystic Hills lift station needs to be upsized. This project is budgeted in FY 2017-18 and FY 2018-19. Estimated project cost: $910,000
- The Chapel lift station needs to be upsized. This project is budgeted in FY 2017-18 and FY 2018-19. Estimated project cost: $910,000 McLeskey said an evaluation was conducted to identify areas currently unconnected to the city’s wastewater system that may likely connect to the system in the future.
These were identified primarily based on proximity to existing sewer pipes, ability to flow by gravity to existing collection system and environmentally sensitive areas such as adjacent to Oak Creek.
Some unconnected areas were identified as less likely to connect in the future based on challenging topography which would require pumping the convey wastewater to the existing collection system and areas currently being served by a private collection and treatment system. Citywide, there are a total of 286 parcels that pre-paid the capacity fee that still have not connected.
This was done in the 1990s when the homeowners were allowed to pay $2,100 with a plan that someday their area could be added to the city’s sewer system as opposed to individual septic tanks. Of those, the city determined that 60 are located in the less-likely-to-connect areas. Today the cost to connect, depending on where a resident lives, can range from $7,700 to $50,000.
Council directed staff to contact the residents whose homes have been deemed less likely to connect and present them with options, which could include a refund of their initial $2,100. But, if they choose to accept a refund, as have others, if they did eventually connect to the system, they’d pay full price.
“In these less-likely connected areas, where people have already paid their money, I feel like we have a moral obligation to return that money to them,” Councilman Jon Thompson said. “It’s like an entitlement. We’ve had their money long enough.
I think it’s the fair thing to do.” Councilman John Currivan added, “I think it would make sense to let the people in these less-likely areas know all the facts. By that I mean all the facts we know now or facts we can get by looking at their area again and seeing just how unlikely it is. Why don’t we tell them two things: One, that they live in an unlikely area and two, that they have the right to ask for their money back.”
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