The Placer County Department of Facility Services on Tues., Feb. 8, 2011, gave the Board of Supervisors an update on efforts to reach compliance with treated sewage discharge standards. The update was for Sewer Maintenance District 1 in North Auburn. Currently, sewer service for the District is provided by the SMD 1 Wastewater Treatment Plant 1. The update took place at the Supervisors’ regularly scheduled meeting.
Previous compliance schedules issued by the state Regional Water Quality Control Board (Regional Board) expired in March of 2010. Those schedules provided the County with protection from fines and third party lawsuits. The District now faces fines that could reach $180,000 per year until compliance is reached. In September of last year, SMD 1 received a new discharge permit along with a Cease and Desist Order from the state Regional Board. That order requires the County to:
- Complete final design and environmental clearance of the Upgrade Project by July 31, 2011;
- Award the construction contract by Dec. 31, 2011; and
- Complete construction by Dec. 31, 2014.
The Upgrade Project is on schedule to meet these deadlines.
This aging plant, built in 1961, cannot meet new regulatory standards for its treated effluent as it serves its 7,900 customers. In addition, the plant is nearing its capacity to effectively treat sewage generated in SMD 1. Upgrades to meet stricter compliance standards were done in 1997, at a cost of $2 million, and in 2001, at a cost of $4.2 million.
Additional capacity will be needed to serve future planned development within the District. Facility Services staff estimates that the cost to upgrade the plant at $64.3 million, of which $2.3 million has been spent on design and environmental review. The remaining costs will complete the engineering and environmental work and fund construction. Design and construction management contracts for upgrading the Plant 1 were approved by the Board in May of last year. Additionally, the Board authorized Facility Services to seek plant upgrade funding through application for State Revolving Fund loans.
Facility Services has pursued a parallel option to reach compliance with Regional Board discharge permits by looking for a regional solution while proceeding with the upgrade design. Placer County, the City of Lincoln and the City of Auburn have been working together for several years to determine the feasibility and cost of regionalization of wastewater treatment. That would entail building pump stations and pipelines to the Lincoln plant, in addition to expanding that plant to accommodate SMD 1 flows. Current cost estimates indicate that regionalization could be more expensive than upgrading SMD Plant 1. However, the City of Lincoln is preparing to provide a proposal to construct the pipeline. This proposal brings the costs for the two projects closer in line.