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​Did you know that every time you turn on the faucet, wash a load of clothes, take a bath, enjoy a shower or flush a toilet, you're sending water through a complex system that will recycle or reuse that very same water?

Our dedicated experts work day and night to transform what you put down the drain into clean, safe, reusable water. Find out what happens after water goes down the drain by selecting the links below:

​What is wastewater?

The future of Arizona's water largely depends on how all of us responsibly reuse and recycle wastewater. Every time you take a shower, flush a toilet, wash a load of clothes or clean your dishes, you're sending water down a drain and into a complex underground system.

Once it's in that system, the waste is broken down, treated and ultimately reused or recycled. Our six wastewater treatment facilities serve more than 55,000 families and businesses in Arizona, helping transform wastewater into clean water.

An amazing transformation

Recycled wastewater keeps our communities green. Used on golf courses and parks, treated wastewater is also put back deep underground into the aquifer, and eventually reused in our homes and businesses. Industry experts estimate that up to 90% of the treated effluent in Arizona is recharged or recycled.

Wastewater may be a dirty business, but it's also a critical one for Arizona's water future. We're working day and night to transform what you put down the drain into clean, safe, reusable water.

​How wastewater gets treated

Turning waste into something clean and renewable is an amazing process. At our six wastewater treatment facilities, we take what gets flushed and washed down the drain, and transform it into treated effluent that replenishes our underground aquifers and waters parks or golf courses.

It all begins in your home

Every drop of water that you rinse down the drain or flush enters the sewer system below your home. Most of the wastewater system is gravity-fed, which means all the waste flows down toward its ultimate destination, the wastewater treatment facility.

The lift station

As gravity helps waste flow through the system and closer to the treatment facility, it typically encounters a lift station. These engineering marvels can take millions of gallons of waste and — literally — boost it so it can continue flowing down to the treatment facility. Typically, several different sewer lines connect to lift stations.

Screening and filtering

Once inside the wastewater treatment facility, the waste is screened and we remove any solid or foreign material that doesn't belong in the sewer system. We then continue filtering and screening until all the solids are removed, dried out, and sent to a local landfill. We focus on the liquid, because that's where the water is.


That liquid is full of microorganisms that we use at all of our wastewater treatment facilities to feast on nitrogen and ammonia, helping to break down any remaining organic matter and take the yucky stuff out of the water. Once they've finished their work, we separate the microorganisms from the liquid.


In our Anthem wastewater treatment facility, the liquid gets further purified in a membrane filtering system that looks like gigantic spaghetti noodles. Its microscopically sized filters make the water clean enough to reuse at local parks and golf courses. If you see purple pipes at your park, it means that park is watered using A+-rated effluent from our treatment facility.

More testing and filtering

Before we finish, we do extra tests and filtering to make sure the waste is gone, and the resulting treated water is ready to be reused.


After all that work, we're left with a product called treated effluent that can recycled in a variety of ways. At EPCOR, we're proud to recycle 90 to 95% of the effluent we create. Here's how we reuse it:

  • Recharging: Deep underground, there are aquifers full of water. Eventually, that water can reach your home to help you water your lawn or wash your dishes. We can recharge the aquifer with treated wastewater. The process is slow and gradual, and the earth functions as a final filter.
  • Recycling: We also recycle the treated effluent by using it to water parks, golf courses or area green belts. Depending on your community, you might use a park that's watered using high-quality wastewater.
  • Reusing: Our wastewater treatment facilities are complex and contain a lot of machinery that needs cooling. We reuse some of the treated wastewater to help operate our facilities. In addition, EPCOR partners with other municipalities to help cool the reactors at the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station.

Think before you flush

We process millions of gallons of wastewater every day. Everything that goes down the drain eventually reaches the wastewater treatment facility. Inorganic solids must be filtered, screened and, often manually removed from the system.

When a foreign object clogs a pipe or chokes a pump, we have to manually suspend operations, diagnose the problem and fix it. That costs time and money. To do our work efficiently, we need your help.

Please keep your wastewater system healthy by following these tips on what should and shouldn't go down the drain.

​In the kitchen

  • Remove stickers from fruits and veggies before you wash and peel. Those stickers accumulate and, eventually, they can clog screens in the treatment facility.
  • Freeze fats, oils and greases and toss them in the trash when you're ready. Never put them down the drain. All that slippery stuff damages your pipes as well as the wastewater system. Learn more.

In the bathroom

  • Dispose of medication properly. Flushing medicine puts all those chemicals into waste and, eventually, into your groundwater supply. Instead of flushing, call your local pharmacy to find an approved drop-off site — or toss them in the trash.
  • Never flush "flushable" wipes. While manufacturers say they're OK, the fact is that flushable wipes choke the pumps in the wastewater facility, and cause extensive delays in processing.

​Investing in you

Arizonans recognize that we live in a desert and need to innovate to manage our water wisely. Drought, climate changes and population growth are all factors that impact the availability of water, and we believe that responsible wastewater management is essential to our state's future. As Arizona's largest private water utility, we're uniquely positioned to see the future of water in Arizona. We work with large municipalities on grand-scale projects — like our new Luke 303 Regional Water Reclamation Facility — while we also see the challenges that face our smaller-scale colleagues.

Investing in the future of Arizona is critical to our success. That's why we're investing more than $500 million over the next 10 years in the water and wastewater systems we manage. This investment is critical to the long-term health of the systems, as well as the future of Arizona's water supply.

​A national perspective

Arizona isn't alone in its need to maintain, or even improve, our wastewater infrastructure. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) graded the nation's wastewater infrastructure as a D – estimating that $298 billion needs to be invested in the next 20 years to keep America's cities operating safely and responsibly.

Locally, the ASCE estimates that Arizona's wastewater utilities must invest $4.4 billion over the next two decades to improve the state's wastewater infrastructure. The age of the systems, the report said, are largely to blame: "Many portions of Arizona's wastewater systems are 50 years old or more, and the warm climate shortens their useful life and causes corrosive hydrogen sulfide to corrode and break pipes."