The Northern Gila County Sanitary District must expand its sewage treatment plant, according to the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality and other state authorities.
Serving Payson and adjacent areas, the district’s treatment facilities have reached 80 percent of the designed capacity at peak use times, triggering the state requirement to increase its capacity, the board learned at its Dec. 11 meeting.
The meeting comes in the wake of a contentious election campaign that centered on whether the sanitary district should reduce the hefty impact fees the district charges to accumulate money to expand the capacity of the sewage treatment plant to accommodate new growth.
The district reportedly has $14 million in the bank to pay for the doubling of its capacity. Estimates released during the election put the total cost of the expansion at about $11 million.
Critics of the district’s impact fees complained that the high fees discourage urgently needed new growth, especially commercial businesses. One property owner recently abandoned plans to expand the number of spaces in an existing trailer park when he learned that sanitary district, water and sewer impact fees would amount to more than $14,000 for each new space.
NGCSD Manager Joel Goode this week told the board that the district has just spent $1.15 million for a new headworks facility, one of several major expansion projects.
The project replaces equipment in service for 28 years with more advanced technology and will increase the capacity of the system. Other parts of this contract provide updated monitoring and control systems.
Next, the district will need engineering studies and construction plans by Moore and Associates to design improvements to increase the capacity of the biological treatment and nutrient removal processes. Construction is expected in the next three to five years.
The district will soon have to seek a permit from ADEQ to continue the work on the project.
The NGCSD plant currently is designed to treat up to 2.2 million gallons of wastewater, but is only set up to handle about 1.8 million. However, on average the district gets 1.3 to 1.4 million gallons. The planned improvements will boost capacity to 3.5 million gallons a day.
“That is a little more than Payson’s projected build out,” Goode told the board.
He said the improvements involve not only installing new equipment and building new basins, but also retrofitting other parts of the plant to work.
The NGCSD board will meet again at noon, Thursday, Jan. 10. At this meeting, new board member Shirley Dye and re-elected board members LaRon Garrett and Patrick Underwood will be sworn into office. The members will also select officers of the board at this meeting.
Meetings are in the conference room of the facility at 2200 W. Doll Baby Ranch Rd., Payson.