Pima County and the town of Marana have settled a years-long legal and political battle about which entity should own a waste-water treatment plant in the town.

The county owns all of the waste-water treatment plants within county boundaries, except for one the town of Sahuarita built and operates.

In 2007, Marana told the county it wanted control of a treatment plant and annexed the land around it. County officials said they could sell the plant, one of 12 the county has, for a fair sale price, said John Bernal, deputy county administrator.

The county spent more than $27 million to build the plant, Bernal said, and it wanted compensation for the full amount because those who pay for sewer service throughout the county paid, with higher service rates, to build the plant.

The two governments took the issue of ownership and the price of sale to court, where the county won. State lawmakers passed a bill on behalf of Marana, allowing it to take over the plant.

Marana then held an election to get voter approval of the process, and both governments agreed to an $18.2 million sale price.

While the county wanted more, Bernal said, resolving the issue is productive.

"The county feels that the termination of all this litigation is in our best interest," he said.

Both governments have been paying lawyers' fees for years.

The county bills more than 230,000 waste-water customers, and the Marana plant serves about 2,100 residents, Bernal said.

"It's a relatively small proportion but we believe there are some economies of scale" which make it cheaper and more efficient to run a county-wide sewer system, as opposed to a fractured system, he said.

AZ Illustrated Metro also interviewed Marana Town Manager Gilbert Davidson about this issue. To see Marana's view, click here.

Listen to the radio story with Bernal and Davidson:

Download as MP3