RWRAC Summary

At the Nov. 18 Regional Wastewater Reclamation Advisory Committee (RWRAC) meeting members learned that future RWRAC meetings will be hybrid in nature, allowing for members to participate in person, or via TEAMS calls. However, due to the continued risks of COVID-19, all those attending in-person must be fully vaccinated, practice social distancing, and wear a mask. 

In his Director’s Report, Jackson Jenkins indicated that it is the time of year to discuss budgets.  He focused on the Capital Improvement and Operations and Maintenance budgets.  He expressed concern over the economy and the inflation we are currently experiencing and is giving serious and careful thought to how the Department will be able to keep user fees flatlined as fuel and other costs rise. Registrar of Contractors information shows that between April 2020 and now, the cost of construction has increased by 40 percent. The challenge for the department will be to find offsets instead of raising fees. 

Another issue that Jenkins is wrestling with is prioritizing his $45 million capital budget because RWRD has far more capital projects than the available budget will cover. 

One consideration is to build a regional wastewater plant in Sahuarita, which would include two major interceptors. Discussions with the Town of Sahuarita about this proposal are ongoing. 

Jenkins indicated that with all the development in the Sahuarita area, this idea is worth exploring further. Some implications of building a regional plant include shutting down the Corona de Tucson, Green Valley, and Arivaca Junction facilities at appropriate times.

On financial fronts, Jenkins is looking at solar drying technologies for biosolids. This concept means that RWRD’s Class B biosolids would become Class A biosolids, thereby opening up markets. Along with the sale of biogas, higher grade biosolids provide a possible new revenue source for the department. 

Program Manager Bruce Gura provided a SCADA Infrastructure update. He discussed security flaws that have affected other utilities, and the measures that RWRD has taken to prevent intrusion. RWRD has various firewalls in place, and malware protection that utilizes artificial intelligence. RWRD also has the resources of the Federal government (specifically the Department of Justice and Homeland Security) at its disposal should that need arise. 

Asia Philbin, Capital Improvement Program Subcommittee Chair, will schedule a meeting for Jan. 2022; and the Financial Subcommittee, led by Chair Matt Matthewson is slated to meet on Friday, Dec. 10, at 9 a.m. on TEAMS with no in-person option. The next RWRAC meeting will be held on Thursday, Dec. 16, 2021. RWRAC Chair Scott Oldendorph will be out of the country; RWRAC Vice-Chair Claire Zucker will run the meeting. 


 

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