As I was driving home to Maricopa this evening I was welcomed into the city by the wretched stench of cow poop.  Why, oh why, does Maricopa have to smell so bad?

This is why…

(Photo by Sam McCallie, Maricopa

(Photo by Sam McCallie, Maricopa

In the late 1950s, the emergence of prosperous ranches and booming livestock businesses propelled Pinal County’s economic growth. Due to issues with feedlot operations in Phoenix, Pinal County offered tremendous opportunities for feedlots to relocate.  Today, there are 31 dairies and seven feedlots in Pinal County. Maricopa is home to one of the major four cow complexes in the county.  The “Cowtown” complex is located between Maricopa and Casa Grande.  Cowtown spans miles and miles of land and is home to thousands and thousands of cows. 

Throughout the years, steps have been taken by the citizens of Maricopa to drive Cowtown out of the community.  Despite issues around air quality and water pollution, Cowtown and the other feedlots continue to operate.  There has been some discussion around the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) designating Maricopa as a “non-attainment” area due to pollutants in the air that are associated with premature mortality and other serious health effects.  Research shows when the EPA designates sites as non-attainment areas, this can lead to a reduction in home values up to 50%.  In addition, this designation could make it difficult for regional growth and economic development.  This can really hurt a community who has seen phenomenal growth in a short amount of time.  Maricopa has grown from 1,040 people in 2000 to the estimated population of over 44,000 people today.   

Aside from this stinky drawbacks, there are a lot of advantages to living in Maricopa.  With cheap housing prices, wonderful fellowship, thriving educational system and potential for great economic growth and development, Maricopa is a very attractive community to live in for new and growing families.  These are among the many reason why people decide to move to Maricopa.  I believe after the economy bounces back, Maricopa will once thrive again despite the cows. 

Yes, Maricopa can be a really stinky place to live.    Some days are better than others.  The smell is really bad after rain.  And in the winter, the stench comes out at night.  I imagine as it gets cooler the steaming piles of cow crap sets off the odor.  On especially smelly days,  I throw up in my mouth just a little.  After three years, one would think I would get use to it.  Unfortunately, this hasn’t happened yet. 

Throughout the years, I’ve thought of possible ways to combat this awful stench.  Maybe industrial strength air freshners on every lightpost could do the trick.  Or Lysol stands throughout the city automatically squirting once every 30 minutes?  I don’t know what the future holds for Cowtown.  One could only dream that they would move far, far away.  But at this point there’s no resolution in sight.  For now, I will just have to grin and bear it.