Sedona AZ (April 30, 2014) – Visitors will have no reason to step behind the bushes at Midgley Bridge Overlook, a popular Sedona tourist site. A new public restroom will soon be available, the first construction of a public toilet along the Oak Creek Corridor since 2007.
The U.S. Forest Service (USFS), in partnership with the Oak Creek Watershed Council (OCWC), is in the process of installing a vault toilet system just beyond the Midgley Bridge parking lot area. A decomposed granite accessible pathway leads to the new toilet, just before the existing Ramada overlooking Wilson Canyon.
After the Cinco de Mayo celebrations of 2012, USFS, AZGF and the OCWC removed over 450 pounds of trash from the Midgley Bridge Overlook and creek side recreational area. The trash included an ample supply of used toilet paper, heaps of human feces, cans and broken glass. This alarming amount of trash and feces from a single weekend prompted the USFS to organize a meeting of other agencies and organizations in order to mitigate this problem.
The area below the Midgley Bridge Overlook is separated from the Sedona drinking water aquifer by only tens of feet. With record numbers of visitors, and high levels of E. coli exceedances in Oak Creek, restroom toilets are vital to public health and the sustainable future of Oak Creek.
The toilet system makes its debut only one month after the USFS ban on glass within 200 feet of Oak Creek, except in designated campgrounds and picnic areas. Visitors should note the seriousness of the glass ban – violators will face fines up to $5000 and six months in jail.
Although the vault toilet system may not be opened by Cinco de Mayo weekend and the parking lot remains barricaded on AZ State Highway 89A, the Oak Creek Watershed Council would like those who decide to recreate beneath Midgley Bridge regardless to keep in mind there are no garbage cans by the Creek, and there is no housekeeping service in the forest. Pick it up, pack it up, leave nothing behind!
Every visitor must leave no trace! With the new toilet, glass ban and more awareness, OCWC and the USFS expect to see a marked reduction in litter and fecal matter.
The Midgley Bridge vault toilet project is funded by a Water Quality Improvement grant from the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) through the federal Clean Water Act administered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The Oak Creek Watershed Council is a nonprofit 501 (c) (3) corporation and is dedicated to maintaining a standard of excellence for watershed stewardship, as well as preserving the integrity of Oak Creek, and its tributaries.