The Future of Wastewater Treatment Series: Tucson, AZ

This article is part of our feature on the future of wastewater in the U.S.’s fastest growing metro areas. We’re using the Transcend Design Generator to automatically build, expand, or upgrade regional wastewater treatment systems in each of these regions.

In our next installment of the Top 100 fastest growing U.S. counties series, we’re taking you to the beautiful southwestern portion of the country, in the state of Arizona.

Arizona has been getting quite a bit of media attention regarding its water situation, and combined with the state of California, it’s clear that water scarcity is a major issue.

Just recently it was announced that the state may stop major housing projects because it doesn’t have the water needed for an additional 800,000 people. This is reflected on the Top 100 growth list, since Arizona has a Top 10 county, but today we will talk about #95, which is Pima County, Arizona, the county mostly known for the city of Tucson.

Pima county and the city of Tucson have generated a water media splash in the recent past, including a recent plant extension in Marana, and in the last decade, a case where Tucson shut down a WWTP and needed help from the state to reopen it. On a positive note, by treating wastewater and making it good enough for nature, Tucson revived the Santa Cruz River and a lot of the fauna came back quite quickly.

Let’s talk about how the Transcend Design Generator can help Pima county manage it’s growing population.

We assume that the city we will need at least a 15 MGD extension. This is based on publicly available information that currently their two treatment plants together handle around 65 MGD, and the current size of the county combined with the projected increase by 2030 will require a minimum of 80 MGD.

This will account for an additional 60,000 person population increase, and ensure the city continues to meet wastewater permitting and discharge standards.  

It appears that the smaller treatment plant is working properly now, and an extension is less likely given that it is closer to the city and is built near industrial users already, including the wetlands.

So we have opted to use the Transcend Design Generator to automatically design an extension of the treatment plant to the north, which appears to have available real estate around it. Based on our educated guess, and because exact data was tough to find, we’ve given the software data to design an extension with a volume of at least 60 MGD in this new, extended plant, with 20 MGD on the smaller, existing one.

If you’d like to see the full design package for this treatment plant, send us a note at or contact us here and a member of our team will share it with you!

If you enjoyed this piece you may also want to read about the future of wastewater in Denver!


Arizona might have to stop construction on homes for more than 800,000 people if it can’t find another water source

A shot of recycled water revives a flourishing ecosystem on the Santa Cruz River in Tucson


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