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The Town of Fountain Hills recently was contacted by Maricopa County Air Quality Control Department that it plans to place a mobile air quality monitoring station in Fountain Park on Tuesday, July 26. The agency routinely conducts air quality tests in cooperation with the EPA. The air quality monitoring station consists of a mobile trailer that will be parked at the southeast parking lot on Panorama adjacent to Fountain Park for a period of twenty-four hours. The placement of the monitoring station is in response to a citizen complaint about Fountain Lake odor that was received by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) earlier in July. The town anticipates that Maricopa County Air Quality Control Department will complete its monitoring of air quality by Wednesday of this week.
The lake in Fountain Park serves as a reservoir of treated effluent water from the Fountain Hills Sanitary District. The lake stores the water which is then used by the Town of Fountain Hills for irrigating the grass and other vegetation in Fountain Park. The fountain is a major source of aeration for the lake (along with 12 aerators along the perimeter of the lake) and normally helps minimize the growth of odor-causing algae in the lake. Due to an unusually windy spring, the fountain at the park had not been able to operate as usual which the town believes has contributed to the increased odors from the lake. The fountain is not permitted to operate if winds exceed 8 MPH because the effluent water cannot leave the perimeter of Fountain Lake. To help reduce the odors, the town has treated the lake on four separate occasions since June with algaecide and odor-reducing chemicals as recommended by a company that assists the town in maintaining the lake. The town has to be careful not to use overly strong chemicals since the grass in the park is irrigated with the lake water. The town has also increased the run times of the fountain in the morning hours which are not typically windy.
The Town Council will be holding a meeting on the topic of Fountain Lake water at a special meeting on September 1, 2016. Town staff and experts contracted by the town will present a number of findings and recommendations to improve the water quality which in turn will address seasonal odors from the lake. Staff anticipates that the air quality report from Maricopa County Air Quality Control Department will be available for review and discussion at the Council workshop.