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  • Odor Control

    System-Wide Odor Control Program

    In an effort to be good neighbors, the Pima County Regional Wastewater Reclamation Department (RWRD) has invested in a system-wide odor control program that significantly reduced the long-standing odors that emanated from Tucson’s Westside. These upgrades consist of the 2014 upgrade and expansion of the Tres Ríos Water Reclamation Facility (WRF) and the newly constructed Agua Nueva WRF, known as the Regional Optimization Master Plan. Along with these investments, the newly constructed state-of-the-art odor control technology is an integral part of the implemented system-wide odor control plan.

    The system-wide odor control plan involves the use of odor control infrastructure and equipment, including monitoring equipment that continuously measures the odor-causing gases that may arise. The information obtained through the monitoring equipment helps RWRD respond when odors are released from the sanitary sewer system or WRFs. A team of odor control technicians works year-round to reduce sewer and WRF odors.

    Additionally, RWRD maintains and continuously rehabilitates the 3,500 miles of public sanitary sewer infrastructure. RWRD utilizes a cured-in-place pipe (CIPP) rehabilitation process, which allows contractors to rehabilitate pipes without extensive excavation that can be costly and prolong construction under roadways. This process can release a foul odor like that of new plastic during the pipe repair process. For more information on this process, please see CIPP FAQs in the tab below.

    RWRD’s odor control improvements of the sanitary sewer system and water reclamation facilities are an ongoing and high priority for our customers and the environment.

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    Report Odor Problems

    RWRD is committed to mitigating odors emitted from the WRFs, sanitary sewer system, and CIPP rehabilitation process. We are interested in hearing from Pima County’s residents.

    If you are directly impacted by WRF, sanitary sewer system, and/or CIPP rehabilitation process odors:
    Odor from manhole Call (520) 724-3400
    to be connected to our Conveyance Division or submit an Odor Report form online.
    The Conveyance Division will respond to all odor reports submitted via telephone or email 24 hours a day, 7 days a week within 2 hours of receiving the complaint.

    Cured-in-Place Pipe Rehabilitation Process FAQs

    What is Cured-in-Place Pipe (CIPP) Rehabilitation?

    The public sanitary sewer system pipes are prone to failure because of aging infrastructure and the long-term exposure to corrosive sewer gases. In our efforts to maintain and improve the 3,500 miles of public sanitary sewer infrastructure, RWRD utilizes a CIPP rehabilitation process, which allows contractors to rehabilitate pipes without extensive excavation, which can be costly and prolong construction under our roadways.

    The CIPP process involves installing a resin-saturated felt tube that later hardens into a strong "pipe-within-a-pipe." This process utilizes a component call styrene. Styrene is a resin that, in conjunction with a flexible synthetic liner, makes up the inside of the new pipe. The underground pipes are accessed through the sanitary sewer manholes, and the styrene-saturated felt tube is inserted in the sewer with water or compressed air. It is then cured using steam, hot water, or UV light.

    Does the Lining and Curing Process Release an Odor?

    Yes, with this process, residents may notice an odor like that of new plastic during the pipe repair process. Styrene can be detected by its smell even when there are minimal amounts of it present. As a result, persons living along the sewer lines may notice the distinct plastic smell during the CIPP process.

    How Can I Prevent Odor from Migrating into my Home?

    You can minimize the possibility of odors migrating into your home or business by making sure your sewer connections are in proper working order and that you frequently run water into all the drains in your home or business, including seldom-used floor and laundry drains. This process will ensure that your property's plumbing traps, which are designed to hold water and create an air-tight seal with the public sewer, have not dried out. They are called “traps” because they do just that: trap water inside, preventing sewer gases from coming back into the building.

    Can this Process Affect Humans or the Environment?

    No, the release of styrene during the typical CIPP process is in such small quantities that it does not pose a risk to human health or the environment. It has been proven that styrene exists only briefly, in the environment, and is destroyed rapidly in the air and dissipates quickly. Levels are continuously monitored during the installation process.

    What is the Benefit of CIPP for the Ratepayers?

    The CIPP Rehabilitation Process is a more economical option for pipe repairs. There is very little, or no excavation needed, which makes it more cost effective, less time-consuming process, and is environmentally friendly. There is no waste to dispose of, and pipes can be repaired underground with no damage to any buildings, concrete, or landscaping. This is especially true for commercial properties; an unusable sewer disrupts business, resulting in lost productivity and profits. In many cases, it takes merely one day to complete the entire repair process.

    Pipes installed via this method are seamless and corrosion resistant. This helps to stop any roots from infiltrating it in the future. It also results in the improved flow of water and increases the longevity of the pipe itself.

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    Wastewater Reclamation

    201 N. Stone Ave., 8th Fl.
    Tucson, AZ 85701

    Customer Service: 
    (520) 724-6500
    Customer Service Hours:
    8:00 a.m. — 4:00 p.m.
    24-Hour Sewer Emergencies: 
    (520) 724-3400
    Service Request Online Portal

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