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  • Writer's pictureBill Spain

Pinewood Sanitary District Needs Major Repairs and Soon!

Updated: Apr 4, 2023

This winter’s “SNOWMEGEDDON” coupled with chronic rain created a record amount of snowmelt and water runoff for the Pinewood Sanitary District. The 600,000-gallon capacity sewer plant experienced multiple days of flows almost four times greater than the plant’s capacity. Fortunately, the dedicated staff and technicians at the plant worked through many nights in order to treat the overflowing water so that the downstream tributaries would not suffer unacceptable contamination. However, these continuous events have brought about violations from the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, (ADEQ,) called “Administrative Consent Orders” and “Notice of Violation.”

ADEQ is a state agency with the task of overseeing multiple state organizations dealing with sanitary and water control. The Pinewood Sanitary District is allowed to operate under the guidance and requirements of ADEQ. A combination of an aging plant and collection system, growing community, increased inflationary costs and failing lateral collection lines are causing an emergency situation for the district. ADEQ is requiring the district to initiate immediate repair plans for the entire collection system. The plant is also aging and needs to implement a strategic repair and replacement program.

The collection system is comprised of the sewer lines between each home/business and the main sewer connection from the street to the main line hook-up. Additionally, the manholes throughout the community are in desperate need of repair and replacement. There are more than 600 manholes in Munds Park and hundreds of them need to be repaired. To date, twenty-six of the worst leaking manholes have been repaired. Since this is a private district which handles only the residents and visitors of Munds Park, the cost of those repairs become the responsibility of the community at large. There is no tax basis to pay for the repairs; they are paid for via assessments to the district’s members.

There are loans available to sanitary districts where the government will loan monies ,under prescribed circumstances in order to address the very circumstances that PSD is facing. The Board of Directors is in the process of requesting those funds and assistance from the Water Infrastructure Finance Authority (WIFA), in order to move forward with the necessary repairs. It is a long process which begins with a vote this November in order to procure the funds via approval of the electorate in the community. All full-time homeowners in Munds Park will vote on this measure.

Failure in this arena would result in the State taking over the district and convening a mandatory state tax and assuming operational control over PSD, which presumably would see the costs soar even more than they would otherwise. The last time this kind of event occurred was in the early nineties when Munds Park was prohibited from adding any bathrooms, building any additional homes, obtaining any building permits, etc. Naturally, the community’s real estate valuation would be negatively affected, not to mention the quality of life. We have to have a fully operational sanitary district in order to enjoy the benefits of living in Munds Park.

The Board of Directors is committed to being transparent to this necessary endeavor as we embark on years-worth of collection system repairs. We are all in this together, literally, and we feel that communication is an incremental requirement of the process. We plan to communicate the combined efforts of the Board and our engineering and construction partners as we move from phase to phase in the repair process.

During the March Board meeting, the Board voted unanimously to request a proposal for services from Ardurra Engineering out of Flagstaff to draft the initial proposals for the work needing to be done. The Board also voted to move forward with the WIFA loan process including a $50,000 loan request for environmental studies and planning for the process.

This entire process will address the deficiencies currently affecting the plant’s collection procedure and also ensure long term operational maintenance so that sanitary services can continue to be provided to our current and future population of Munds Park resident’s and visitor’s.

Besides our communication via the Pinewood News, our District website and postings in the Arizona Daily Sun, the District is implementing a bulletin board in the conference room which will detail PSD’s plans as they develop and share information with those residents that desire to be kept abreast of the progress being made during this process. In addition, those interested in hearing first hand about the process can attend the monthly meetings, open to the public, on the second Thursday of each month at 3:00 pm at the PSD office.

Inflation Causes Operating Increase for Pinewood Sanitary District Monthly Maintenance Fees

The Pinewood Sanitary District Board voted unanimously during the March meeting to increase the monthly “Operation and Maintenance” fee 8.5% from $50.57 per household to $54.90. The increase is due to soaring operational costs spearheaded by energy costs that have mushroomed over the last two years. The Pinewood Sanitary District also assessed increases to the applicable businesses utilizing the private sewer district for sanitary relief. All increases become effective July 1, 2023 with the new fiscal budget.

A fatberg is a rock-like mass of waste matter in a sewer system formed by the combination of flushed non-biodegradable solids, such as wet wipes, diapers, fat, oil and grease.

“Nobody likes to see prices go up,” said Bill Spain, District Chairman, “yet we have to be able to fill the trucks with gas and diesel fuel, pay the electric bill and maintain operations and with the inflation incurred over the last eighteen plus months, something has to give. We have looked at every possible avenue to reduce overhead before we made the decision to raise the rates,” added Spain. “We are in the process of revising our monthly mailings to minimize expense, cutting our payroll system fees, copy and cloud storage costs and reducing employee expenses where we can but the pace of the inflationary trend requires we increase our fees at this point,” he added.

In combination with the increase in expenses, the District has seen a huge spike in the volume of processing the plant has had to absorb. The extreme weather events that have been plaguing the plant during the last several months are making it difficult for plant personnel to operate the plant efficiently. The increase in usage by Airbnb and VRBO’s are a big problem on weekends and holidays, especially in the summer months.

“The diapers and wipes in the system are a real problem for our plant operation,” stated Lee Krosnicki, Sanitary District Manager. “The equipment can’t handle the influx of these “flushed” commodities. This behavior is causing breakdowns at the plant, replacement of pumps, filters and additional manpower hours to deal with the clogs and equipment breakdowns. It has to stop,” exclaimed Krosnicki.

“This is a call to all those in our community to help us keep the plant working by being critical of anything you put into the sewer system.” said Spain, “We all need to help our aging plant work efficiently by being considerate of each other and ensuring we do not pollute the system by flushing any kind of wipes, diapers or toweling into the sewer. It is another reason for the increase in costs,” stated Spain.

In case you missed it, read Pinewood Sanitary District Confronted with Soaring Costs from our March 2023 issue.


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