Water won’t be wasted at the west edge of a desert town that prides itself on sustainability for much longer.

The Sedona City Council made a decision in June some residents in Sedona have been waiting for it to make for years.

Rather than spraying effluent from Sedona’s wastewater treatment plant into fields — arguably the most wasteful method of disposal — council told staff it wants wetlands and injection wells to do the work.

Wetlands are a no-brainer in an area flush with bird species and people looking for an excuse to visit. Using effluent to fill wetlands and provide an environment for wildlife to live and be viewed will add one more attraction to Sedona’s long list. It’s a simple solution to a problem the city has dealt with for some time.

Incorporation of injection wells isn’t quite as simple.

Currently, the Sedona wastewater treatment plant pumps out what is called in the world of wastewater
B+ effluent. For effluent to be recharged into the aquifer via injection wells, it must be labeled A+ effluent.

The dirty difference between the two comes down to the amount of fecal matter present in the water after treatment and how often it is tested.

For a plant to be licensed to produce A+ effluent by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, effluent must be tested daily and come back with fecal matter of less than 1 CFU, or colony forming unit, a measurement used to determine a sample’s level of contamination. CFU is measured per milliliter or 0.034 fluid ounces.

Plants rated at B+ have less strict regulations concerning fecal matter but more restrictions as to how effluent can be disposed of.

Basically, Sedona’s plan for sustainable disposal also calls for it to clean the effluent up a bit more, a small endeavor considering the benefits of smart use of water in the desert.

The city’s current practice of spraying effluent means the vast majority of the water evaporates while some nourishes plants and may seep back into the ground and eventually into the aquifer.

Wetlands keep the water on location to sustain life. Granted, some of the water will evaporate, as is true with any body of water, but the percentage will be greatly reduced.

Injection wells, which the city will test before committing to, is the least wasteful method being considered. These wells allow A+ treated water to be pumped directly into the ground where it can seep back in to the aquifer and essentially replenish our water supply.

We don’t have much water in the desert so let’s keep what we do have here