How Is Your Toilet Waste Related to SHARP?

You flush your toilet a few times a day, but do you really know what happens then to the liquid and solid waste? If you are on a city sewer system, all eventually moves through a system of pipes in your area to a wastewater treatment plant. (Or you may have your own septic tank on your own property.) The waste in the sewer system undergoes several stages of treatment with the liquid portion prepared for discharge into the environment. This is referred to as reclaimed water. Around the world, we all need water; it is essential for our survival! Instead of losing waste water, it is important to have reclaimed water for a next step in the process.

After the waste water treatment what happens? The reclaimed water is filled into recharge basins at locations, such as at SHARP: Southeast Houghton Area Recharge Project in Tucson Arizona. Here there are 3 recharge basins covering a huge portion of 40 acres of land. The reclaimed water seeps to an aquifer about 350 deep so we keep our aquifer available to us for our future water needs. This waste water treatment plant with its recharge basins is crucial in processing at maximum capacity 1.3 billion gallons of water per year. Water is essential and this process is crucial for all of us living here.

SHARP, a Tucson Water and City of Tucson waste water treatment project, has landscaped around the recharge basins with walking and mountain biking trails, three ramadas, some benches and a restroom. With water eventually in the recharge basins and the newly planted 1500 plants more fully grown, including 500 trees, it will be attractive to birds. Birds will love the water in the recharge basins, the seeds from trees and plants, and a safe environment to stay and/or migrate through. Of course, bird watchers/lovers look forward to this area developing just as another recharge project on the other side of the city, Sweetwater Wetlands, is enjoyed as a birding hotspot.

I decided to visit the SHARP location now to document the newly created landscape of recharge basins, plantings, and trails so I could look back on it all someday as more birds and people visit. It was quiet this cloudy afternoon, however, one family was there with their child riding a bicycle as I walked around to take photographs. I saw a Say’s phoebe and male house finch also. Knowing my household waste is being treated and recycled is important to me and I look forward to SHARP being a future birding hotspot too!

Here are photos I will use to compare plant growth, etc in future years. I kept mountain ranges in the background so I would know how to line up a photo in the future. It’s not that picturesque yet, but it is a start!

SHARP is on the north side of Fantasy Island, an established mountain biking trail system which has been encroached upon for home construction and SHARP. I noticed dirt paths for mountain biking within SHARP and there seems to be an effort to connect SHARP with Fantasy Island. In time I think it may be more easily realized.

This sign is not clear to me. Maybe it means, if you walk your bicycle then walk in the same direction as the walkers? I look forward to spending more time here as it is closer to my home than Sweetwater Wetlands, which I love, but on the other side of the city. Anyway, the project is truly important! Know good things are happening when you flush your toilet!

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