A wastewater treatment plant that has sparked an outcry from Gold Canyon residents has been granted approval to nearly double its capacity, but expansion plans still have a long way to go, according to state regulators.
Trevor Hill, managing director of Algonquin Water Resources of America Inc., which owns the plant, said Friday the Central Arizona Association of Governments has confirmed the plant in Gold Canyon can nearly double the amount of wastewater it treats each day.
"There can be no question now that the site can be expanded to 1.9 million gallons a day," he said.
But the Gold Canyon plant is still a long way from completing the regulatory process necessary to operate the plant as an expanded facility, said Steve Owens, director of the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality.
"It’s just the very first step," he said. "We have left no uncertainty that if they want us to even consider that they expand, they have to make sure they have taken care of the odor issues."
The department has been bombarded with more than 70 complaints from Gold Canyon residents about odors from the plant, which was allowed to expand more than a decade ago while nearby homes and a Bashas’ shopping center were being built too close to the plant, department records indicate.
While it’s too late to enforce set-back requirements, department officials say they can require maximum odor control measures in the permitting process.
Hill said the expansion will include covering the wastewater ponds and other odorcontrol measures. There also will be better technology to improve the plant’s water quality.
The facility has exceeded water quality standards for nitrogen on a monthly basis, records show. With better technology, Hill said nitrogen levels will beat the state’s standards.
The plant expansion is being sought as growth in Gold Canyon sends increasing flows of wastewater to the treatment facility, Hill said.
Algonquin’s plans include increasing the amount of treated wastewater sold to golf courses for reuse. Hill said the company will use recharge basins to store extra wastewater, and is pursuing a permit to allow wastewater to be discharged into a nearby wash when the plant exceeds capacity.
Owens said the department objects to discharging any wastewater because the wash is near homes and businesses.