Y-A Nation beginning process to enhance infrastructure needs in Middle Verde

Staff photo by Carol Keefer

CV President of Camp Verde Water System Stan Bullard talking to WIFA Director Jay Spector before the meeting.

Fullmer told the group that wastewater was on his top-five list along with "air, water, economic development and education." He said it was his hope that the Nation would be progressive in utilizing effluent, a byproduct of wastewater treatment.

"The Nation has known for five years that it must do something, ever since the new casino," Rene Toman later explained. "They’ve known they had to do something, especially with the idea of supporting commercial development that goes along with a big structure like that. We’re chomping at the bit, but can’t do it without the infrastructure in place," she said.

Toman is administrator for the Nation’s Economic Development Authority who called the meeting encouraging attendees to think about "innovative ideas" and "possible partnerships."

Around the room were several Nation officials, such as Ted Smith, Thomas Beauty and David Quail, as well as CV Town Manager Bill Lee and Community Development Director Will Wright, CV School Superintendent Ron Maughan, National Parks Facility Manager Mickey Estrada (Montezuma Castle), U.S. Forest Service Ranger Tom Bonomo, Yavapai County consultant Angelo Manera and Virginia Turner from the governor’s office (she is representative to Northern Arizona). Experts in the wastewater treatment field attended to offer advice and suggestions. Town officials were invited to the meeting because they may be asked to provide resource information in the future.

The casino uses its own plant-and-aerated lagoon system. Nearby Camp Verde Schools has a septic system and leach field, Montezuma Castle National Park uses evaporation ponds and the Yavapai County Jail facility along Arizona 260 has its own treatment plant.

Most discussing the issue seemed to be in agreement that collective bargaining would be more economic than going solo.

Camp Verde Sanitary District Chair Suzy Burnside talked to the group about the history of the Camp Verde Sanitary District started in 1972 and provided information on the newest gravity expansion project currently underway. She said that she and her board had attempted to bring those around the table on board during initial sewer expansion talks including the school district under a former administrator, Yavapai County and its new jail, and the Nation, but found that the timing was not right for most. She said that although they cannot be included in the expanded boundaries, there is always the possibility of a "contract." She said that when the district’s new wastewater treatment plant and larger lines are completed (they go to bid within two months), the sanitary district will be capable of handling most of the additional sewage connection needs in and near the Middle Verde casino and along 260. She cautioned that the biggest obstacle for the group would be crossing the Verde River. Any group forming an assessment area, similar to the 260/I-17 businesses, must pay for all costs incurred, she said.

Guest speaker WIFA Executive Director Jay Spector discussed several funding options available through the Congressional allocated lending institution. The Water Infrastructure Finance Authority of Arizona can lend money for wastewater and clean water systems, generally at discounted or subsidized rates.

Gail Hackney said she would provide technical support to help the group get started. She is a WIFA board member, as well as Pima College advanced outreach coordinator and professional wastewater treatment plant trainer. She also sits on the board of directors for Arizona Water Pollution Control Association.

When asked about being part of the group along with the Nation and possibly others, Camp Verde School Superintendent Ron Maughan responded, "At this time, we do not have treatment problems. At some point, my thoughts are that it will become saturated and then we will need help immediately. It’s not too soon to plan," Maughan agreed.

The school district includes an elementary school, middle school and high school on Montezuma Castle Highway/Camp Lincoln Road and the Yavapai College site at the old elementary school and Head Start on Apache Trail.

Tom Bonomo, head ranger at the Verde District office in Camp Verde, said that the new USFS administration site scheduled for construction in 2006 across from the high school, will house about 70 people including temporary forest fire fighters.

"We’re in the process of working with the numbers," Bonomo said, also expressing an interest in a joint venture.

Angelo Manera, consultant for Yavapai County said that they had to develop something right now for the new jail (along Arizona 260) so it could open, but could foresee being part of a future joint sewer district project.

"No one in his right mind wants to run a sewer plant," he cautioned, a sentiment later shared by Hackney, who travels around the state bailing sewer districts out of trouble, who encouraged tying in with the Camp Verde Sanitary District. Manera said the jail’s existing treatment plant treats 40,000 plus gallons per day but that they are expanding to 110,000 gallons per day.

The collective group interested in wastewater infrastructure is scheduled to get together again during the first week in February.

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