An appropriations bill approved by the U.S. Senate recently includes $3 million for two Placer County projects.
The Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill for the 2010 federal fiscal year contains:
· $2 million for a proposed Placer County regional wastewater treatment system. The federal funds would help finance preliminary design work for a sewage transmission line that will run from Auburn to the city of Lincoln’s wastewater treatment and reclamation plant.
· $1 million for the design and construction phase of a biomass-to-energy facility at North Lake Tahoe.
A final appropriations bill still must be approved by the full Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama.
The funding in the Senate bill is in addition to $957,000 for the wastewater treatment system and more than $1.4 million for the biomass plant that was included in a federal budget bill signed by the president in March.
“We are grateful to Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Sen. Barbara Boxer for leading the effort to get our projects included in the appropriations bill,” said Chairman F.C. “Rocky” Rockholm of the Placer County Board of Supervisors. “Both senators understand how vital these projects are to Placer County and how critical continued federal support is to their progress.”
“We need federal funding for the regional wastewater treatment system because local agencies and ratepayers cannot shoulder the burden of complying with federal and state water-quality regulations alone,” Supervisor Jim Holmes said. “I was very pleased with the reception we received from Senators Feinstein and Boxer. They understood our needs, and worked hard to get funding for the project in the appropriations bill.”
Placer County has been working with the cities of Auburn and Lincoln, Newcastle Sanitary District and South Placer Municipal Utility District to create a modern regional wastewater treatment system and close several small, outdated treatment plants.
About $18 million in local funds have been invested in regional infrastructure for the project. In previous years, Congress has appropriated more than $8 million for planning, environmental review and preliminary design work.
“The project is at a critical juncture because we need to decide this year whether to build the regional system or upgrade existing treatment plants,” Supervisor Robert Weygandt said. “The $2 million in the appropriations bill is very timely, because it will allow the county to proceed with preliminary design work on the regional project.”
During the preliminary design phase, the county will evaluate potential routes for the main transmission line and refine cost estimates for each route.
Placer County has launched several initiatives focused on biomass, which is organic material such as downed trees, branches and pine needles that winds up on forest floors.
Removing biomass from forests can help reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires in areas such as the Tahoe Basin. Biomass can be used to generate heat and electricity at plants such as the facility planned for North Lake Tahoe.
Placer County is proposing to build a biomass plant that would become a research and demonstration project where Placer County could team up with universities, federal agencies and state officials to demonstrate the potential of biomass programs for reducing wildfire threats and producing commercial viable forms of energy.
“Placer County, in partnership with Senator Feinstein, is leading the way in promoting biomass technology programs in the Sierra Nevada,” said 5th District Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery. “We are enormously grateful to the Senator for her help in obtaining this recent Department of Energy Grant for $1 million. The potential benefits of this project are far-reaching. This will serve the local communities through job creation, watershed benefits, fire protection, improved air quality and a long-term investment in renewable energy.”