ADEQ: Potential for unpermitted discharge of treated water from Pecan Water Reclamation Plant into Queen Creek wash

A screenshot of a portion of the press release from ADEQ.

The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality was notified by EPCOR on Feb. 20 that an unpermitted discharge of treated effluent may be necessary from the Pecan Water Reclamation Plant into Queen Creek wash.

The Pecan Water Reclamation Plant is at 38539 N. Gantzel Road in San Tan Valley. EPCOR was appointed by the Arizona Corporation Commission as the interim manager for Johnson Utilities in August.

“Recent cool and wet weather has decreased demand for treated effluent used in irrigation, which has increased water levels in the recharge basins where the effluent is stored,” according to a release.

“To prevent a potential berm failure and/or overtopping of these basins, EPCOR determined a controlled release into Queen Creek may be required. This potential discharge does not impact Johnson Utilities’ drinking water systems and is not a release of untreated sewage into the environment,” according to the release.

The treated effluent, also known as recycled water, is typically used for non-potable applications, including for irrigation of golf courses and common areas within a community or in ponds at the facility to recharge the aquifer, it states.

“The use of recycled water in a community is indicated by purple pipes and signage cautioning against contact with standing water and/or to not drink. If you have contact with standing water, wash hands thoroughly. ADEQ confirmed samples taken in January 2019 inside the plant meet water quality standards for A+ effluent,” according to the release.

A previous unpermitted discharge from the facility between Jan. 9 and 17 totaled 15.36 million gallons. A permitted discharge of this kind would be required to do additional monitoring for surface water quality standards as determined by an Arizona Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit, according to the release.

During the previous discharge, ADEQ sampled the water and results showed the discharge met applicable surface water quality standards. If another discharge is necessary, ADEQ confirmed that ECPOR will conduct sampling for applicable surface water quality standards. To manage future flows, EPCOR continues working to increase recycled water capacity for local irrigation districts and farmers, the release states.

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