The city of Sedona needs your help in regard to something most would rather not talk about — wastewater.
The city is in the early stages of updating its wastewater collection system master plan, which was last completed in 2000. Over the past 16 years, there have been substantial changes to the collection system and reconsideration of plans to expand the system to various locations in the city, associate city planner Roxanne Holland said.
The master plan update has a maximum budget of $200,000 with the work being done by Carollo Engineers.
During a open house on Tuesday, Dec. 5, attendance was less than expected. But for those who did attend, staff was able to garner important information from them that will be included in the update.
“Overall the meeting was well received,” Holland said afterward. “The public that attended was supportive of the city’s efforts in
developing the Wastewater Master Plan Update and supportive of improvements or expansion of the sewer system for environmental sustainability. We received some valuable feedback that we will utilize as we move forward with the project.”
The scope of work will include:
- Development of flow projections.
- Determination and possible revision of sewer service area boundaries.
- Hydraulic modeling will be used to determine deficiencies within the collection system.
- Analysis of possible efficiencies — elimination of lift stations, overflow emergency strategies for major lift stations, feasibility of removing old cluster systems.
- Identify a capital improvement plan for recommended upgrades and major repairs.
- Conduct public outreach such as mailings, fliers, website, public meetings.
Many of those in the audience currently have privately-owned septic systems and questioned how they go about tapping in to the citywide system and its costs. About
60 percent of the population is on the city wastewater system. For those looking to join, there is a $9,757 cost to do so. And, city code states that if a homeowner, for example, is the third or fourth house in on a street and wishes to connect to the city’s system, all the homes between the connection point and that house must do the same.
When Sedona became incorporated in 1988, state law mandated that the city provide a wastewater system for the residents. However, because of costs and logistics, 40 percent of the homes and businesses are still not on the system. As the septic tanks age, city officials said that the likelihood of the tanks going bad increases. Holland said there are several ways of telling if a tank is leaking. The first is a strong odor while others include wastewater seeping out of the ground and a backup in the system within the home.
“There’s no way to know the actual number of tanks that may be leaking,” she said, adding that septic system experts can come to one’s home and do tests.
It was also pointed out that the law requires those who go from a septic system to the city system have their tanks filled with gravel.
As the update moves forward, Carollo will continue to compile comments and questions, update the Sedona City Council on their progress, analyze areas of the city looking to connect, meet with smaller groups like HOAs and individual neighborhoods and finally host a second public meeting.