County, city discuss closing Randolph wastewater plant

2014-06-17T00:00:00Z 2014-06-17T09:24:02Z County, city discuss closing Randolph wastewater plantBy Jamar Younger Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Pima County and Tucson Water are discussing the possibility of shutting down the Randolph Wastewater Reclamation Facility near Reid Park.

Officials have deemed the midtown water-treatment plant, which provides water to Reid Park and the Randolph Golf Course, unnecessary after the county recently opened and upgraded two of its water treatment plants.

The Regional Wastewater Reclamation Department opened the new Agua Nueva Water Reclamation Facility late last year to replace the old Roger Road plant.

The department also upgraded and expanded the renamed Tres Rios facility at West Ina Road and installed a sewer pipeline to connect the two treatment plants.

Both projects were part of the $605 million Regional Optimization Master Plan, which aimed to replace and upgrade the old wastewater-treatment plants, improve technology and make other improvements.

The upgraded and expanded facilities have more water-treatment capacity and produce higher-quality water, which is why the city and the county have discussed the closure of the county-operated Randolph plant. The plant provides water to the city through an agreement between the two governments.

Randolph currently produces about 16 percent of all reclaimed water in the city, said Tucson Water spokesman Fernando Molina.

The two agencies have also discussed the possibility of shutting down Tucson Water’s Sweetwater Polishing Facility, a reclamation plant near Roger Road.

The city and the county could save between about $2 million and $4 million per year from the closures, according to county documents.

Tucson Water and county wastewater officials have been discussing the proposal for the past year, but there are a number of hurdles that need to be cleared before officials agree to shut down the facilities.

First, the city wants the county to increase production at its Agua Nueva plant from 15 million to 25 million gallons per day to accommodate the usage from Reid Park and Randolph Golf Course, Molina said.

The city would also need another 7 million gallons per day to meet other environmental demands, he said.

County wastewater Director Jackson Jenkins said his department has discussed upping the usage at Agua Nueva to 25 million gallons per day.

Currently, Agua Nueva produces about 15 million gallons of water per day specifically for Tucson Water users, Jenkins said.

County wastewater would also need to obtain a permit to distribute A+ quality water from the Agua Nueva facility.

Agua Nueva already produces A+ quality water, which is the highest rated for reclaimed water, but the facility has a permit for B+ water, he said.

The permit would allow Tucson Water to shut down its reclamation plant at Sweetwater, which currently filters the water to make it a higher quality.

The city would need to build a pipe to bypass Sweetwater, which would cost about $1.5 million, Molina said.

The county is willing to obtain the higher-rated permit to satisfy the city’s requirement, Jenkins said.

Contact reporter Jamar Younger at jyounger@azstarnet.com or 573-4242. On Twitter @JamarYounger

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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