The Gila County Community Development Department encompasses a wide variety of services. Its highest profile work is planning and zoning services provided for new subdivisions, new construction, add-on construction, conditional use permits, etc.
The department is also responsible for building safety and code enforcement (see separate story), plus wastewater.
Scott Buzan, director of the Gila County Community Development Department, made a presentation Nov. 17 to the board of supervisors about wastewater.
“Our mission is to enable growth in the unsewered areas of Gila County, protect the home and business owner’s investment in real property by ensuring that the wastewater system is capable of serving the home or business for decades to come, protect the health of the property owner and the citizens of Gila County, their water supply, and the environment,” Buzan explained in his presentation.
Wastewater is the water generated in a home or business from toilets, sinks, bathing and washing.
The county has a staff of three in the Wastewater Division. The staff works closely with Building Safety, Code Enforcement, Planning and Zoning, Floodplain, and Grading and Drainage.
• Soils and percolation testing
• Plan review, permitting and inspecting of standard and alternative septic systems
• Septic tank replacements
• Cesspool determinations
• Gray water system approval
• Enforcement of the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality delegation agreement and ADEQ rules and regulations
• Attendance at pre-application meetings
• Training of contractors and owner builders
• Inspection of property for new well applications
• Enforcement of Arizona Department of Water Resources rules and regulations
• Investigation of sewage surfacing complaints
As part of his presentation, Buzan shared the wastewater activities his office has handled between Jan. 1, 2020 and Sept. 30, 2020:
• 122 soil tests have been performed with 100% of them scheduled in less than the 10-day goal. In all of 2019, a total of 123 total soil tests were done.
• 75 conventional septic plan reviews completed with 90% of them within five days of complete submittal.
• 43 alternative septic plan reviews completed with 80% of them within 15 days of complete submittal.
• Wastewater manager Jake Garrett engineered the sewer system design for the new Animal Control facility in Globe, saving the county money.
• Active participant in the Arizona County Directors of Environmental Health Services Association, Arizona Onsite Water Recycling Association, and ADEQ Onsite Wastewater Advisory Committee.
• Garrett was asked by ADEQ to join the Wastewater Discharge Advisory Group for the purpose of creating a five-year plan for ADEQ’s Onsite Program.
• Actively working with ADEQ on the renewal of the county’s delegation agreement.
• After evaluation, procedures for soil testing inspections were revised to reduce inspection times.
Buzan said the division’s future goals include:
• Actively recruiting to replace the division’s environmental health specialist, who is retiring at year’s end.
• Continue to be active in Arizona County Directors of Environmental Health Services Association, Arizona Onsite Water Recycling Association, and ADEQ Onsite Wastewater Advisory Committee.
• Work with ADEQ to formalize a new ADEQ Delegation Agreement and submit to BOS for approval.
• Continue to evaluate the procedures currently in place for soils testing in an effort to reduce inspection times.
• Evaluate requirements and procedures with the goal to reduce the plan review time for both standard and alternative septic systems.
• Continue to produce and distribute the “Homeowner’s Manual: Septic Systems 101” to educate property owners on the workings of a septic system and the required care so it continues to function effectively.