Town of JeromeWhere:
Jerome, Yavapai County, Arizona

The town of Jerome had not completed critical vulnerability assessments (VA) and emergency response plans (ERP) for its wastewater treatment facility. To meet loan and grant terms, wastewater systems must complete these plans every three years.

RCAC staff helped the community develop plans to improve its system’s safety and security

The town of Jerome is a small, historic mining town in Yavapai County, Arizona that sits at above 5,000 feet elevation. The town sports some of the oldest mining sites in North America, and subsists mainly on tourism. The area’s residents have a $32,000 median income; and 10 percent live below the federal poverty line. Hotels and commercial sites in Jerome use a sewage system, supported by a wastewater treatment facility that services 256 connections. Two U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development (RD) loans totaling $300,000 dollars and a $290,000 USDA grant have funded upgrades to the Jerome wastewater treatment facility.

Jerome had not updated its vulnerability assessment and emergency response plan nor had it completed a security inspection. This put the town’s USDA funding at risk. RD asked RCAC to perform inspections and work with the town to complete the VA/ERP.

During RCAC’s assessment, staff found that the town’s wastewater operator had to conduct daily inspections along a steep gorge that ran a mile outside of town. The path was unpaved and frequented by rattlesnakes. Sewage backup was also a concern, as visiting tourists routinely flushed objects down hotel toilets, causing disruption to the system and raising the risk of introducing infectious diseases in the area. And, some of the historic hotels in town are more than 100 years old.

RCAC developed recommendations in concert with the town’s mayor, city manager and water operator. The assessment included plans for improved lighting, signage and radio communications along the route to the wastewater treatment facility. RCAC also recommended more education for commercial centers in town about waste disposal.

The VA and ERP were completed and Jerome is again fully in compliance with USDA’s loan terms.