Pump station on Tucson's NW side suffered 'catastrophic failure'

Published: Jul. 28, 2017 at 3:41 PM MST|Updated: Jul. 31, 2017 at 11:06 AM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - A pump station in northwest Pima County failed for the second time in as many years, according to the county's regional waste water reclamation department.

Two of the three underground floors at the Continental Ranch Regional Pump Station were flooded with sewage on July 18, according to a memo from County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry.

The "catastrophic mechanical failure" could have discharged sewage into the nearby Santa Cruz River, according to the memo.

John Warner, Deputy Director of the Conveyance Division, said Friday that staff learned about the sewage leak when it reached electronics, causing them to malfunction.

He said partial flow through the pipes kept any alert systems from setting off sooner.

"This is a drop what you're doing, all hands come running," Warner said.

The pump station pushes an average of 2,000,000 gallons to the Tres Rios Treatment Center every day, according to Warner. He said the flow management set up in the middle of Coachline Boulevard will maintain that sewage stream while the pump station itself is out of commission for several months.

Redirecting the flow kept any sewage from reaching a nearby drainage wash, which ultimately reaches the Santa Cruz River.

If it wasn't prevented, sewage flowing into the river would have violated the Clean Water Act.

Warner said more than a week since the break occurred and nobody has reported problems with their sewage systems.

"That's our desire," he said. "Our response time is very quick."

He said it's better the sewage wind up at the facility than in someone's home.

The Pima County Board of Supervisors is expected to discuss the issue at a meeting Tuesday, Aug. 1.

Supervisors had already approved renovations to the pump station, which was built in 1987. Warner said the flow management set up in the middle of the street will allow contractors to work through the first phase of those renovations.

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