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  • Writer's pictureBill Spain

The Pinewood Sanitary District Announces Critical Improvements

Updated: Mar 1, 2023

After nearly ten years of planning and preparation, the Pinewood Sanitary District received approval from The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) to expand to the west side of Munds Park and offer sewer services to all property owners on the west side of the freeway. The move comes after many years of engineering studies, analysis, and contemplation of how the district should expand service to the west side while continuing the yearly expansion of services on the east side of Munds Park.

Over the past few years, hundreds of properties have joined the sewer district as new homes were built throughout Munds Park. Businesses have been added and have joined the district so that nearly every property in the east side commercial district is now part of the Pinewood Sanitary District. Now the west side has the opportunity to join the district as well. As septic systems age out and cease to function properly, with some failing, they are forced to join the PSD district and go onto the sewer system. There are costs associated with that requirement, including construction costs, hook-up fees, capacity fees, and ultimately, the $50.57 operation and maintenance fee that every property owner must pay for their use of the sewer system. Businesses and households alike have to pay their own hook-up fees, construction fees and $1500 capacity fee per parcel.

With the west side properties joining the sewer system, the same fees will apply proportioned to individual parcels and apportioned to the RV park model sites. The new RV park owners, Inspire Communities, have signaled they are hooking up now. The sewer district has also been informed in writing that the Shuster properties also plan to hook-up to the sewer district immediately. The only parcels not hooking up at this time include Pinewood Partners 23 acres, phase 1, 1A, and 2 of the RV park and phase 5 of the land owned by Shuster Properties. Those parcels will be considered and factored into the District upon ADEQ enforcement.

As the district expands, we also face the grim reality of an aging plant that will require immediate renovations to keep up with the available technology and upgrade the existing obsolescence of the equipment or replace equipment that is aging out. One of the ongoing concerns relative to the sewer district is the plight we face should a 100–500-year flood occur in Munds Park. The current system is rated up to a 100-year flood, but with the growth that the Park has experienced in the last decade as well as the aging infrastructure, it has become acutely obvious that steps need to be taken to assure optimal operation of the plant going forward.

Stanley Engineering, a highly respected engineering firm used throughout Arizona, recently completed an analysis that suggests that the plant be immediately retrofitted with a 1.3 million gallon holding tank to divert overflow, when necessary, and treat before release into the Oak Creek tributary system. That one requirement alone is a million-dollar price tag. The second requirement is that a new Aerobic Digestor be installed to handle the increased flows from our ever-growing community. The one in place is nearing end of life, is too small and can’t handle the absorption of the number of debris folks are throwing into the toilet. Believe it or not, some folks throw diapers, towelettes and sanitary napkins into the sewer system, which inevitably clogs the pipes. Due to this problem and the system’s expansion, new screens must be installed to pull this un-dissolvable material into a separate chamber. This material and the collection of mass fecal material has to be removed from the system in order for it to function properly. PLEASE STOP THROWING NON-DISSOLVABLE ITEMS INTO YOUR TOILETS!

In addition, upgrades and replacements must be made to the pump station, the clarifiers and lateral lines, and manhole stations throughout the Park.

PSD handles 250,000 gallons of sewage daily and is rated up to 600,000 gallons daily. A flood could result in sewage being inadvertently released into the local waterways and aqueduct, which is why the board of directors is actively working to address the frailties in our current system.

The board is working with staff to implement a 10-million-dollar request to obtain funding from the water infrastructure system (WIFA loans.) These loans are expected to be approved and put in place sometime this year. Of course, this will mean that each of us will have an increase in our sewer bill in the near future. Please know that this is not an option but a requirement to meet the basic standards of ADEQ and maintain the health and safety of our community. Once more focus comes into play from a budget perspective, we will inform the community so that no one is surprised by the upcoming rate increases.

The Pinewood Sanitary District is one of two pseudo governmental agencies in Munds Park, along with the Fire District Board, which are both political subdivisions of the state of Arizona as well as special taxing districts of Coconino county. The board is comprised of seven local full time residents that go through a nomination and interview process should a vacancy occur on the board prior to normal elections. If there are more candidates than openings during a general election, then those candidates would run and be elected via ballot during a November general election. The seven members fulfill four-year terms in a non-paid volunteer position.

During these busy growing times for Munds Park, the board members have been meeting several times a month besides the one public meeting held on the second Thursday of each month at 3 pm at the sewer district office. The board members include: Bill Spain, Chairman, Len Friedlund, Vice-Chair, Gail Van Deurzen, Clerk, Bob Timberman, Treasurer and at large members Dick Drinen, Tom Gulliver and Tom Eade. The District Manager is long-term employee Lee Krosnicki and the Office Manage is Lisa Frazier. The board is also advised by long-term legal counsel Brandon Kavanagh.


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