Thu, Jan. 23

My Turn: Reclamation: Cottonwood is ahead of the times

The poll question in the Sunday, May 29 edition of The Verde Independent asks people if they are in favor of the sewer treatment plant at Riverfront Park. “Sewer Treatment” is a misnomer. The City of Cottonwood plans to build a “water reclamation” plant at Riverfront Park.

The proposed water reclamation plant would separate the liquid from the solid waste that already flows into Lift Station 3. Lift Station 3 would continue pumping the solid waste along with approximately 7 percent of the liquid (necessary for pumping) to the existing sewer treatment plant. The remaining 93 percent liquid would be reclaimed and produce A+ (drinking) quality water at the proposed odor free water reclamation plant that would be located at River Front Park.

This water reclamation plant is exactly what the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Panel (BRP) on Water Sustainability final report dated Nov. 30, 2010, suggested for the state of Arizona to reduce water consumption.

The following is excerpted from the BRP final report to Governor Brewer.

“The Purpose of the Blue Ribbon Panel on Water Sustainability is to advance water sustainability statewide by increasing reuse, recycling, and conservation to protect Arizona’s water supplies and natural environment while supporting continued economic development and to do so in an effective, efficient and equitable manner.

“To achieve this Purpose, the Panel also identified a goal specifically aimed at guiding the work of the Panel towards increased sustainability of Arizona’s water supplies. The Goal of the Panel is to provide recommendations to the Executive on statute, rule, and policy changes that, by the year 2020 in Arizona, will significantly:

“1. Increase the volume of reclaimed water reused for beneficial purposes in place of raw or potable water;

“2. Advance water conservation, increase the efficiency of water use by existing users, and increase the use of recycled water for beneficial purposes in place of raw or potable water;

“3. Reduce the amount of energy needed to produce, deliver, treat, reclaim, and recycle water by the municipal, industrial, and agricultural sectors;

“4. Reduce the amount of water required to produce and provide energy by Arizona power generators; and

“5. Increase public awareness and acceptance of reclaimed and recycled water uses and the need to work toward water sustainability.”

The report also makes the following findings:

“Communities are investigating decentralized wastewater treatment options, where smaller high performance, odor free plants are located within the communities, allowing a variety of high-value uses with lower infrastructure costs. In any case, when planning for reuse, diurnal and seasonal variations in effluent production and variations in the end use demand must be taken into account. As indicated in the recommendations of Working Groups, many other opportunities for fuller use of reclaimed water exist.”

See for the complete report.

The odor free “green” solar powered water reclamation plant plans meet and exceed the BRP final report. The plans also exceed FEMA requirements for construction in the flood plain based on a 500-year flood. The plant will remove pharmaceuticals and produce A+ (drinking water) quality reclaimed water for watering River Front Park, the ball fields, Dog Park, community garden, and the cemetery replacing the much lower quality ditch water used now. More water will flow in the Verde River. The education center at the water reclamation plant will attract water resource experts from around the country to study Cottonwood’s plant and implement similar designs in their communities. It will also provide water conservation education opportunities for our local youth.

Kudos to our city leaders and staff who are ahead of the goals of the Blue Ribbon Panel on Water Sustainability. Cottonwood formulated their plans before the BRP’s report was released and will be meeting the report’s standards long before the proposed 2020 date. Cottonwood will be in the forefront of communities nationwide in addressing the need to conserve water and to use our resources wisely. Talk about being proactive and farsighted? Way to go Council and staff!

Cottonwood is truly a great city that is ahead of its time and one that all residents should be proud of. I know I am!

Doug Hulse is chairperson of the Cottonwood Parks & Recreation Commission.

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