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Confusion and mosquitoes plague sewer
Written by Staff Reporter   
Wednesday, 11 July 2007 12:53

An intergovernmental agreement between the Town of Camp Verde and the Camp Verde Sewer District had specified that an operating agreement was to be in place by the end of May. Yet a month-and-a-half after that deadline, no such agreement is in place.

“The IGA kinda covers everything,” said Dane Bullard, who is both the town’s head of human resources and finance director. “We just wanted to get more specifics in terms of who’s responsible on things like the employees.”

The IGA stated that the town would use its own employees to “operate and oversee waste water treatment operations,” which would include the town first “hiring a certified operator.”

The new manager/operator of CVSD’s wastewater treatment plant, Richard Spears, is in place, getting paid by the town and receiving town benefits.

According to Bullard, Spears’ salary and benefits are reimbursed by CVSD, and Spears is not technically on the town payroll.

Bullard said that there was some consultation by the town in sewer affairs recently, but that the town had not been involved in Spears’ hiring process.
Down the road, the town is slated to take over the district completely. At that point, Bullard said the town may take on the district’s current employees or may go through a rehiring process.

Bullard also said that he thought the current reimbursement procedure was a “carrot, if you will, for hiring district employees.”

“The intention was that the town was actually to go out and find all the employees and run the operation,” CVSD Board Chairman Rob Witt said.

In the transition, that just didn’t get communicated very well to [Interim Town Manager] Dave Smith, and that’s probably my fault. I just kinda felt like, gosh, he’s got plenty to do, he’s steppin’ up and doin’ and great job.

So I just went out and found a certified operator and we hired him.”
The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality oversees the certification and safety of wastewater treatment plants and those who operate them. As of last week, according to ADEQ’s Web-based database of operator certifications, Spears had a level one certification, though level two is required.

Friday, July 6, ADEQ officials could not locate any certification for Spears.

Witt said that Spears passed his level four certification two weeks ago.
Other problems plague the treatment plant.

Last week, CVSD received a letter from Yavapai County Community Health Services stating that three months of monitoring had shown that their plant’s mosquito abatement plan was inadequate.

“Residents of Camp Verde are being subjected to a continuing and unacceptable public health risk,” the letter stated.

“Weekly trapping of adult mosquitoes has also shown steep increases, from 106 on June 5, 2007, to an estimated 1,800 on June 27, 2007.”

The letter described challenging conditions at the plant, including “thick vegetation, hundreds of elk hoof prints and the high organic load in the water.”

In general, the letter struck an upbeat tone that assumed compliance and cooperation by CVSD with the county health services.

Sludge buildup has been an ongoing problem at CVSD’s plant, and the letter stated that this problem was providing shallow and still areas ripe for mosquito breeding.

The health services’ letter states that “CVSD must be
prepared to implement a more aggressive and successful
mosquito abatement plan by [Monday] July 9.”

As of press time, no July 9 board meeting had been scheduled.

Witt said he thinks Spears’ plan is to apply for a permit to use koi — a large East Asian carp that would prey on the mosquito larvae — to safely control the mosquito problem


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