Marana Water News: Working in the lab...

Marana Water operates several drinking water systems and a wastewater treatment facility (WWTF). Between these systems and the WWTF, the Marana Water team collects many samples to ensure water quality requirements are being met. These samples are then analyzed by a licensed laboratory to ensure all water systems are in compliance with the Drinking Water Act (for drinking water systems) and the Clean Water Act (for the WWTF). To learn more about the samples taken and what compounds are being analyzed, click here.

Based on the system sizes, Marana Water participates in the state's Monitoring Assistance Program (MAP) for compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act. The purpose of this program is to help water providers that serve less than 10,000 people share the burden of sampling costs with other small water providers. The fees paid into this program are used by the state to procure a contract to collect, transport, organize and report results of samples to the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. This program gives a more economical option for smaller water departments to complete the required water sampling.

The operation of the WWTF requires additional sampling due to separate testing requirements and to maintain plant operations. These samples are analyzed by contract laboratories due to the high expense of operating a licensed laboratory for our small system.

Sharing a campus with the Agua Nueva Water Reclamation Facility is the Compliance and Regulatory Affairs (CRAO) Laboratory; a lab that analyzes wastewater samples. This lab, run by the Pima County Water Reclamation Department, is a state certified facility by the Arizona Department of Health Services. This certification means the lab has provided sets of standards, collection procedures, testing procedures, and other requirements to ensure the tests and results are as accurate as possible. Having this certification also means that the lab can analyze samples from various public entities including universities and state and local governments. While the sampling done for Marana Water is not done at this facility, it is an example of the types of processes done to ensure the water samples are analyzed properly to meet all regulations from the EPA.

As part of the $600 million investment made by Pima County, the CRAO Laboratory opened in 2011, and allows the lab the ability to test for even smaller result values including parts per trillion. This site includes labs for microbiology, organic compounds, inorganic compounds, effluent testing, biosolid testing, mercury, and wet chemistry. CRAO is currently constructing a whole effluent toxicity testing lab, which will include aquariums for culturing fish to meet discharge monitoring requirements.

Housed at this same facility is the University of Arizona Water and Energy Sustainable Technology (WEST) Center. This highly regarded research center aspires to be a venue for research and development of water treatment technologies, contaminant monitoring tools, energy minimization and production, and innovative education and training components. The access to the lab facilities, the reclaimed water system, and the Santa Cruz river all provide a unique environment for emerging technologies the WEST center may discover.

While the CRAO Laboratory may have different equipment than the labs contracted by Marana Water, the abilities of this lab are very similar to what we require of the labs that analyze our samples. Sending samples to labs like this one allow Marana Water staff to accurately and knowledgeably address potential issues that may arise in the drinking water and wastewater systems. The CRAO Laboratory is another facet to the water and water reclamation industry. The people working at labs like this are chemists, biologists, or have other science backgrounds. Further, there are operators, samplers, and administrative staff that help keep everything running smoothly. This is another example of the diversity of the water industry.