Placer County, Lincoln Laying Groundwork for Regional Sewer System

May 30, 2012

Placer County and the City of Lincoln are hard at work developing a comprehensive strategy for completing planning, design and other preliminary tasks in time for construction to begin as early as next year on the proposed Mid-Western Placer Regional Sewer Project.

The City of Lincoln will take the lead on designing, conducting an environmental review, constructing and initially operating the system. Lincoln’s initial focus is on refining alternative alignments and preparing environmental documents.

The project calls for pumping wastewater from North Auburn and potentially the City of Auburn for treatment at the Lincoln Wastewater Treatment and Reclamation Facility. Construction work will focus on building a buried pressurized pipeline that will pump wastewater from the county’s Sewer Maintenance District #1 (SMD #1) in North Auburn. The district’s existing treatment plant has been upgraded several times, but does not meet current federal and state standards.

The City of Auburn is considering participation in the regional project, but has not yet made a decision. If it opts to participate, city wastewater will be pumped through a buried pipeline to the main pipeline between North Auburn and Lincoln.

The Lincoln plant will be expanded to handle wastewater from North Auburn, as well as Auburn if the city decides to participate.

On March 13, on a 3-2 vote, the Placer County Board of Supervisors agreed to participate in development of the regional sewage system, setting in motion the current efforts to develop a comprehensive strategy for dealing with planning, design, financing, outreach and other issues.

“I am very pleased to see so much progress being made on the planning and design work so quickly,” 2nd District Placer County Supervisor Robert M. Weygandt said. “One of our top priorities is keeping the public informed about what is going on and how residents could be affected by the project. I am convinced it will benefit both ratepayers and the environment in the long run. Operating one regional treatment plant is more cost-effective than several smaller plants, and the project will eliminate discharges of North Auburn wastewater into streams that are sensitive habitats for salmon and steelhead.”

One of the high-priority preliminary tasks is providing information and taking input from property owners, residents and businesses whose property is near potential pipeline routes.

In April, the City of Lincoln mailed a letter to approximately 2,000 property owners who may be affected by construction of the pipelines. Included with the letter were a map of the proposed pipeline routes and answers to frequently asked questions.

The letter was sent to property owners within about 3,000 feet of proposed pipeline routes, rather than the normal 300 feet.

Most of the pipeline will be placed under public roads, but alternative alignments are being considered in some locations that would involve purchasing easements from private property owners. Approximately 20 property owners who may be asked for easements have been contacted.

The City of Lincoln will manage the construction phase. The city anticipates property owners who live on roads along the pipeline routes generally will experience temporary inconvenience for a few days during construction work, with reduced impacts over several weeks. Contractors will be required to provide for access at all times and to quickly complete work in an area after it is started.

No connections to the pressurized main sewer line will be required or allowed.

The April letter to property owners is part of a wide-ranging outreach campaign aimed at keeping the public informed about the project.

The outreach efforts included presentations during May to the Placer County Municipal Advisory Councils that serve North Auburn, Sheridan, the Newcastle - Ophir area and Rural Lincoln.

On May 14, property owners in the Fawn Hill area of Ophir held a meeting at the Ophir Fire Station to hear information and provide input on the possibility of the pipeline being constructed down Fawn Hill Lane. The presenters at the meeting were Bruce Burnworth, the project manager for the City of Lincoln, and 3rd District Placer County Supervisor Jim Holmes, as well as Placer County staff. An Alignment down Fawn Hill Lane is no longer being pursued. The preferred alignment would be east of Fawn Hill Lane.

As part of the outreach campaign, the City of Lincoln has created a website where the public will be able to get up-to-date information on the project. The access this information, please click on this link: REGIONAL SEWER .

Lincoln’s project schedule calls for completing environmental studies, preparing an environmental impact report and completing the design over the next 12 to 18 months.

Construction of the main pipeline is projected to begin during 2013 or possibly early 2014. The pipeline-construction phase is expected to last eight to 12 months. Placer County is facing a September 2015 deadline for bringing treatment of North Auburn wastewater into compliance with state standards.

During its March 13 vote, the Board of Supervisors directed county staff to continue working on ways to keep monthly charges stable for the more than 6,000 North Auburn ratepayers in SMD #1 when the regional system goes into operation in 2015 and to help stabilize rates for Auburn ratepayers if the city opts to participate.