Sedona City Council agreed, 4-2, to fill its vacant seat until the term expires in 2012.

When former Councilman Marc Sterling resigned April 22 to pursue filming a movie in Sedona, the six remaining councilors were left with some options to replace him.

In an unanimous decision, the Sedona Fire District Governing Board agreed to begin contract negotiations with its next possible fire chief.

On Saturday, May 9, the board voted 5-0 for a contract to be sent to Nazih Hazime, currently the fire chief for the city of Dearborn, Mich., in hopes he’ll become SFD’s chief.

 
As the city of Cottonwood pursues its sudden grab for 10 square miles of state land, all of it within the Cornville Community Planning Boundary, questions are being raised as to the motive.

A search that began on April 19, after the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a severely damaged aircraft found in the forest, finally yielded some answers on Friday, April 24.

The downed aircraft was reported to be in the Secret Canyon Wilderness Area, within Coconino County and between Sycamore Canyon and Oak Creek Canyon, according to Gerry Blair, public information officer for CCSO.

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Flames errupt at the Corner of Hwy 89A and Mountain Shadows on Tuesday, April 21. Sedona police and firefighters quickly responded to the fire and were able to keep it contained. Stay tuned as more information becomes available.

President Barack Obama signed the stimulus bill Feb. 17 and now Verde Valley communities wait to see how much money trickles down for local road projects.

A stoplight at Airport Road made the list of regional improvements recommended to the Northern Arizona Council of Governments by the Verde Valley Transportation Planning Organization.

NACOG will be responsible for distributing any federal stimulus dollars for roads to both Yavapai and Coconino counties, along with Apache and Navajo counties, according to Chris Fetzer, NACOG manager of transportation planning.

Project lists were prepared by various local organizations, such as the Verde Valley organization, and submitted to NACOG, Fetzer said. NACOG will use the lists to create a master list of projects to be funded after it learns the amount of money it will receive from the Arizona Department of Transportation. ADOT will be the direct recipient of the federal dollars to be distributed for state projects.

Whether Sedona get its stoplight is still up in the air.

“We don’t know how far the funds will go,” Fetzer said.

On the Verde Valley list, the stoplight is ranked fourth on a list of five projects.

Ranking above Sedona’s project is $826,010 for Yavapai County to improve 3.8 miles of Cornville Road, $780,000 for pavement replacement on South 6th Street in Cottonwood and a combination of two Clarkdale projects totaling $804,100. Fifth on the list, after the Airport Road stoplight, is $500,000 for resurfacing a portion of Salt Mine Road in Camp Verde.

Sedona’s project includes the traffic signal, sidewalks and intersection improvements for $731,584. However, stimulus money would be used to pay for half of the project and the city of Sedona would pick up the remaining amount, according to the letter submitted to NACOG by John Bradshaw, the transportation organization chairman.

Bradshaw, also a member of Sedona City Council, could not be reached for comment.

On the county level, Yavapai County Director of Public Works Phil Bourdon said the county came up with a total of four projects for federal funding — only one of which is in the Verde Valley.

The Cornville Road project entails breaking down the road’s pavement, rejuvenating it with oils and laying it back down from Aspass Road in Cornville to Beaverhead Flat Road.

Yavapai County Administrator Julie Ayers said exactly how stimulus money is distributed locally — which projects will be funded and how much — is still uncertain.

“There’s still a lot more questions than answers out there,” Ayers said.

And those questions won’t be answered in the near future.

“It will be several weeks until that [funding information] is available,” Fetzer said.

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It may be a big, smelly mess, but regional and state authorities are hoping it’s a problem cities in the Verde Valley can deal with together.

On Feb. 26, authorities from Arizona Department of Environmental Quality and Northern Arizona Council of Governments asked Verde Valley mayors if their cities would be interested in a regional solution for wastewater.

According to ADEQ’s Linda Taunt, under Section 208 of the Clean Water Act, the federal government encourages communities to work together to get more for their money.

ADEQ is expecting extra money from the recently signed stimulus bill to go to Section 208 and if the Verde Valley cities are interested in working together, there may be money and staff available, Taunt said.

Funding for Section 208 would look for key words like “recharge, reuse, regionalization, collaboration and environmental benefit,” she said.

The state is expected to receive roughly $270,000 for Section 208, ADEQ Communications Director Mark Shaffer said Wednesday, March 4, and about $105,000 must pass through regional planning agencies, like NACOG.

“There are currently eight such governmental entities handling CWA 208 money,” Shaffer said, “so how it will be divided has yet to be determined in the Verde Valley or any place else in the state.”

Shaffer estimates regions will have up to two years to spend the money.

What a regional wastewater treatment plant might look like is entirely up to local elected officials and residents, he said.

Mayors from Camp Verde, Clarkdale, Cottonwood, Jerome and Sedona agreed to take the issue back to their city councils for a consensus to investigate.

Clarkdale is currently working with Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick [D-District 1] for a wastewater plan that is “shovel ready,” Clarkdale Mayor Doug Von Gausig said.

Since Clarkdale and Cottonwood are working on new plants, Taunt directed the cities to continue ahead with their plans and then work regionally when the time comes.

“Clarkdale is desperately in need of a good system. Jerome will need to update theirs,” Taunt said. “Together we might be able to come up with a long-term solution.”

Sedona is currently searching for a solution to dispose of its effluent.

Although its wastewater treatment plant has the capacity to take in and treat 2 million gallons a day if the entire city were connected, it can only dispose of 1.6 million gallons a day.

Currently, Sedona’s wastewater plant takes in 1.2 million gallons daily. A solution to dispose of a future increase in effluent is estimated to cost roughly $3.5 million.

With Oak Creek and the Verde River in the area, it is important that the five cities have the most up-to-date infrastructure, Capalby said.

Now, with the troubled economy creating a reprieve in development, it is a great time to catch up on wastewater infrastructure and to best protect the vital water sources, he said.

According to Taunt, some of the stimulus money would go directly to NACOG, who would be able to staff some of the long-term projects.

“We want to make sure this area is able to capitalize on this opportunity, and it’s desperately needed,” Capalby said. “We’re not always concerned with quantity. We’re concerned with quality. With the remaining water we have in this area, it’s critical we protect it.”

NACOG is curious if the communities are interested in working together on wastewater issues, Executive Director Ken Sweet said.

“As the [Section] 208 administrators, we’re willing to look at it at a local level if the communities are, but if you don’t want to, we won’t mandate or dictate that, but we do think money is available,” Sweet said.

Clearly, there is a lot of cooperation in the Verde Valley for regional wastewater solutions, Sedona Mayor Rob Adams said.

Overall, it was a worthwhile meeting, according to Capalby.

“I think everyone understands the issue to have the most up-to-date infrastructure to meet the needs of the area,” he said.

Sedona City Council agreed to move ahead, in order to plan ahead, for the future disposal of the city’s treated wastewater.

On Feb. 24, council voted 6-1 to grant Carollo Engineers a $152,125 contract to begin seeking necessary permits for an aquifer recharge project at the city’s wastewater treatment plant.

Councilwoman Pud Colquitt voted against the motion, stating the city is acting piecemeal, which she called “dangerous and expensive.”

The awarded amount will allow Carollo to look at options to dispose of the city’s effluent, primarily focusing on injection wells.

Carollo will determine if the city’s wastewater plant is a feasible site for an injection well, the feasibility of selling or using water credits and how much it would cost the city to upgrade the plant to A+ treatment.

The engineers will also work with the city’s Wastewater Effluent Disposal Land Use Task Force on options other than injection wells. The contract came as a result of a May 2008 Burgess & Niple water reuse study.

After learning the results of the study in July 2008, council directed staff to begin the process, including seeking permits, for an aquifer recharge/water reuse project.

The wastewater plant currently takes in 1.1 million to 1.2 million gallons per day and has the capacity to dispose of 1.6 million gallons of effluent per day.

If the entire city were connected to the plant, the estimated average daily flow would be about 2 million gallons per day.

Although the plant has capacity to take in and treat the estimated 2 million gallons per day, it does not have the capacity to dispose of 2 million gallons of effluent daily.

Carollo originally proposed a contract for $921,932, which could be broken up into six phases and would look at putting injection wells at the wastewater plant or on one of two state land sites — Sheepshead Wash or Gyberg Wash. If Carollo determines the wastewater treatment plant is not a feasible site for an injection well, council could approve a new contract for them to look at the two state land sites.

Building injection wells at the state land sites would require leasing state lands — $250,000 per acre for 20 years — and installing $1 million in piping to get the effluent from the plant along Highway 89A to the site.

Task 410 Under Task 410, Carollo will determine the cost of upgrading the wastewater plant’s effluent from B+ to A+, which would allow the city more options for disposal.

Carollo will coordinate with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality to determine if Sedona must upgrade to A+ for an injection well at the plant due to its proximity to Oak Creek.

According to Interim City Manager Alison Zelms, the city’s plant, and either of the state lands sites, may require A+ treated effluent for injection.

“We have a B+ plant but we already have things that would make it easier to get to A+ than other plants,” Zelms said. “So it’s a bit of an unknown.”

Task 431 and 431B Carollo will determine the feasibility of the city’s wastewater treatment plant location for an injection well. Under this task, the engineers will work with ADEQ, Arizona Department of Water Resources, Arizona Geological Survey and the U.S. Geological Survey.

The study will determine the applicability of the soils for injection, potential impacts on existing groundwater, the depth of the aquifer, and it will solidify test drilling parameters.

If the site is not feasible, the city could approve another contract with Carollo to do the same study at one or two state lands sites.

Task 500 Carollo will do an evaluation to determine the city’s interest in water credits. Although Sedona does not have a direct need to reuse its effluent, there are communities around the state that may be interested in purchasing the city’s water credits.

“We could inject into the ground without water credits or we could inject and get water credits for the future,” Director of Public Works Charles Mosley said.

According to Mosley, the city could draw out what it put in at a later date, or another city or agency could draw out the water after buying Sedona’s water credits. Task 600 Carollo will advise the city on its options.

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