Tracing our "Roots" in Pima County

Part 3:   1950 -- 1974


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1950 Tucson's population: 55,454.
1951 The phase 1 of the City of Tucson's Roger Road WWTF was completed and began operation. It had a capacity of 12 mgd (million gallons/day). The old primary treatment plant at the Santa Cruz River near the Fort Lowell Road alignments was abandoned. Sewage flow was diverted to the new plant through a 42" and 48" diameter sewer extending north from Sunshine Lane.

Phase 1 of the Roger Road WWTF:
under construction November 1950.
Photo source: Consolidated Aerial Survey, Inc.

1953 A portion of the treated effluent from the Roger Road WWTF was being sold to area farmers for irrigation.
1955 By this time, all of the effluent from the Roger Road plant was being sold for irrigation use.

The City of Tucson's Roger Road WWTF was expanded to increase the plant's combined capacity to 24 mgd. The new 12 mgd system is a high-rate trickling filter, operating in parallel with the existing (1951) 12 mgd plant.

City of Tucson's population: 212,892.

1961 The first wastewater treatment lagoon was installed by Pima County Sanitary District #1 at the Ina Road Plant site. It was needed to treat sanitary sewage from tributary county areas.
1963 The City of Tucson dedicated it new international airport.

Pima County Sanitary District #1 was dissolved by a vote of electors. Its tax base had been eroded by the City of Tucson's aggressive annexation program. Pima County Government assumed responsibility for sanitary sewerage service with the creation of the Pima County Department of Sanitation. This new department was responsible for both the operation of the county's sanitary sewerage system and the county's sanitary landfills.

Interstate 10, between Tucson and Phoenix, was completed.

The City of Tucson's Roger Road WWTF was expanded to increase the plant's combined treatment capacity to 36.9 mgd. The new treatment train utilized activated sludge treatment. The WWTF now had three 12 mgd treatment processes (trains) operating in parallel.

A new outfall line (48" diameter) was installed at West Congress Street and I-10 that ran northwest to the Roger Road WWTF. This interceptor, known as the Northwest Outfall, was the first concrete interceptor sewer in this basin to utilize an interior liner at certain key locations.

Early Public Sanitary Sewer Lamphole Cover
Age is approximated by initials "AT" (Arizona Territory)
i.e., cast prior to date of statehood (1912)

1970 December 19, 1970: Pioneer Hotel fire occurs. 28 people die.

The Metropolitan Utilities Management (MUM), a joint county-city agency, was formed to better facilitate basin-wide planning and management of the sanitary sewerage system. The City of Tucson continued to administer, operate and maintain the system within the city limits. Likewise, Pima County continued to administer its sewerage facilities in unincorporated areas. At this time, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency developed the position that the region's interests would be best served by a single management agency overseeing both sewerage systems. The notion of a merger was conceived.

Ordinanced sewer connection fees and sewer user fees were implemented basin-wide.

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