State agency honors Prescott's management of wastewater treatment plant expansion

The City of Prescott's recent $42 million expansion of the Airport Wastewater Treatment plant won statewide recognition this week for "outstanding project management."

Representatives of the Water Infrastructure Finance Authority of Arizona (WIFA) attended the Feb. 24 meeting of the Prescott City Council to present the 2014 Clean Water Project of the Year award to the city.

The expansion and renovation project of the Airport Wastewater Treatment Plant began in November 2012 and became operational in the fall of 2014.

Prior to the upgrade, the technology and design limited Prescott's ability to support a higher level of treatment and capacity.

The expansion increased the plant's capacity from its previous 1.2 million gallons per day to 3.75 million gallons. In addition, it upgraded the quality of the treated effluent from the previous B+ to an A+ quality.

A news release from WIFA stated that its board of directors selected the project for award based on Prescott's "focus on fiscal sustainability, exceptional project management, and commitment to improving Arizona's quality of life through wastewater infrastructure upgrades."

"Treating wastewater to a Class A+ level allows for Prescott to reuse the water for beneficial purposes, such as irrigating sports fields, golf courses, and commercial landscapes, restoring riparian habitats and recharging groundwater aquifers," said WIFA Board Chairman Henry Darwin, who is also director of the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality.

He added: "The City of Prescott is to be commended for successfully completing this project, which protects water quality for Arizonans."

Planning for the project involved anticipation of the system users' future needs and demands, as well as setting user rates appropriately, the news release added.

"City of Prescott was exceptionally well-organized and managed this massive project with impressive skill," said WIFA Executive Director Sandy Sutton. "We're very pleased to acknowledge their achievements and hard work with this award."

To pay for the project, the city obtained a WIFA loan. Prescott Budget and Finance Director Mark Woodfill earlier reported that the WIFA amount totaled about $45.8 million, which he said represented the top limit of the loan.

The 20-year loan (at 2.95-percent interest) is being paid back through user rates and impact fees.