Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Water and Waste

Marathon’s water tower glimmered in the afternoon sun overlooking the town from its high perch at the end of North 8th Street. Inside the office next to the tower, Bernice Martin, bookkeeper, combed the files.

“We pumped 28,410,000 gallons in ’07. Rainy year. Pumped 32,375,000 in
06,” she said.

The Marathon Water Sewage Service Corporation was formed in 1969 to provide water and sewage services to the people of Marathon. The well, adjacent to the tower, was drilled down to one thousand feet, but pumps at 232 feet.

“We got water at a hundred and sixty nine feet,” Jim Roberts, manager of the public corporation said. “The aquifer is more or less vertical around here.”

Beakley Draw which runs out of the Glass Mountains is one of the recharging systems for the aquifer. Artificial recharge zones also exist. They were built by the Civilian Conservation Corp during the Roosevelt administration.

“A little over half the people take their water from us,” Roberts said. “And a little bit more than that use our sewage system.”

Paisano Cattle Company leased fifty acres to Marathon for the first sewage plant. Then bought the land and built a bigger plant.

“According to the rules, once you reach 70 per cent of your capacity you’re suppose to be planning a new one,” Roberts said “That happened to us about six years ago.”

“We were real fortunate to get the grants and get up to date,” Roberts said. “The money came out of the North American Development Bank part of the NAFTA agreement. We qualified because we were within so many miles of the border.”

Marathon operates a cyclative-lagoon type sewage system.

“We have a state of the art sewage treatment plant,” Steve Houston, board president of MWSSC said.

“The sewage is pumped between lagoons,” Roberts said. “We have an irrigation pond but we’re not using it, because we’re not near capacity. Evaporation is important and we’ve had plenty of that the first half of this year. We’d like to use the irrigation pond and grow something out there. There’s a whole bunch of ideas about it.”

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