Tucson, Ariz., is getting an infrastructure facelift under a plan to upgrade and replace two aging treatment plants.

The Pima County Regional Wastewater Reclamation Department was one of the first water entities in Arizona to receive stimulus funding. The “Plant Interconnect Project” is part of the department's Regional Optimization Master Plan (ROMP) to meet new Arizona Department of Environmental Quality mandates that include reducing the amount of nitrogen and ammonia in the county's effluent by Jan. 1, 2015.

Five miles of 60- and 72-inch-diameter sewers are being installed between Ina Road and Roger Road to connect two metropolitan treatment plants.

The Ina Road Water Reclamation Facility will be upgraded and expanded, while the Roger Road treatment plant will be entirely replaced by a 32-mgd reclamation facility. The project will allow for optimal capacity in wastewater transfer and projected average flows of 36 mgd. The project is expected to be completed by December 2010.

Pima County submitted an application to the state's Water Infrastructure Finance Authority (WIFA) requesting $10 million in March. By April 1, the authority learned it would receive $2 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 in principal forgiveness funds and another $8 million in low-interest loans through the authority.

Although the federal boost helped, it wasn't the determining factor in getting the renewal tasks under way.

Eric Wieduwilt, deputy director of planning & engineering for Pima County, says bond funding was already on reserve. “We were shovel-ready when the stimulus became available,” he says.