Start Yer Engines!
At the Los Osos Town Hall meeting of 7/7 (attended by about 80 – 100 people out of a community of 15,000??? what’s THAT all about?) Ripley Pacific gave a preliminary presentation of their project update report and shared a little of their thinking and approach to the Hideous Los Osos Sewer Project.
Happily, their focus on the matter is all about WATERWATERWATERWATER and SUSTAINIBILITY. That is, how to minimize energy costs per gallon of “product,” in this case, WATERWATERWATERWATER while minimizing an unwanted, expensive byproduct, SLUDGESLUDGESLUDGE.
Which means, their plans are the exact opposite of the Tri-W plant, which focused on sewage treatment and denitrification (a very expensive process) and deferred the water and sludge issues for later (even more expense to be added.) A question I raised to the Ripley team was How it is even possible that two engineering firms could come up with 180’ proposals, both supposedly using “science and engineering” criteria, and the answer was: “Engineering bias,” no doubt a nice word for “Different Focus.” (Sort of like the story of the blind men examining an elephant and describing entirely different critters depending on just what part of its body they were feeling.)
The final update report will be due July 28, and will evaluate various options on collection systems and sites and so forth, but what Ripley will be recommending will be a STEP system which will involve:
Replacing all septic tanks that aren’t watertight. The tanks will be owned and operated by the CSD/County/Septic Management Department with easements just like we have for telephone, power lines, etc. coming into our homes. If the thing “breaks,” call the Sewer Guys! The check valves and access points for maintenance can be located at the lot lines for ease of operation.
The initial high cost of replacing tanks will be offset by the overall lower cost of the collection system (smaller pipes, microtunneling methods, no huge open trenches etc. the collection system is more like a water pipe delivery system than the traditional gravity sewer piping.) (Traditional gravity collection systems have always been the lion’s share of costs. Change that component and the costs go down, no matter what kind of treatment plant is used.)
Since the septic tanks will be doing the bulk of the work “digesting” the solids and pre-treating the wastewater, that will reduce overall costs of treating the water at the plant. And, having solids pre-digested saves on the problem of sludge disposal, a growing, expensive problem. Homeowners will have to make a choice with this system: Do they want a huge gravity “dump it and forget it” system for X $ with ongoing and growing energy costs and sludge disposal costs? Or do they want to take a modest responsibility for their own waste onsite and pay Y$, with greatly reduced OM&R costs. The Voters will have that decision to make when the time comes.
In addition, water conservation is a key component in keeping costs down as well, which means the community must install low-flow everything, if they haven’t already done so. In addition, and interesting to me, is the possibility of also using a tiered billing system for the waste water project since the focus of this project is WATER – the more you use, the more you’re increasing the overall treatment costs, then the more you should pay – exactly like our presently tiered water rates. Tiered rates encourage the thrifty, and make sure the wasteful pay their fair share. After all, the cheapest way to clean water is not to get it dirty in the first place.
Tanks in high ground water areas can be anchored so as to not float away. Long term pump-out for sludge/solids is a recommended pump out once every 12 – 20 years (depending on the occupancy numbers & etc.)
Alarm systems will operate via a wireless Web Base system to alert the plant operator if there are any problems and if so, exactly which house or junction.
The system will be phased in, hitting the hottest areas (highest in nitrates) then adding on the lowest nitrate areas. Also being discussed with the RWQCB is the use of onsite systems (i.e. something like the Piranha system now in use at the firehouse) where it could be used.
Ag exchange is a key component of this project. Instead of spending gazillions to get nitrates OUT of the water, the nitrates in the upper aquifer and the treated wastewater (treated to Title 22 tertiary, suitable for all uses, including food crops) are viewed as a valuable resource to the farmers on the outskirts of town. (Instead of buying nitrate fertilizer, the nitrates will arrive in the water in useable form and in the right amount for “free.”) The exchange involves the farmers using the treated nitrate-laden water instead of pumping and using deep aquifer potable (nitrate-free) water, thereby leaving that water for Los Ososians to drink. This exchange should also help slow the salt water intrusion to the west of Los Osos.
The treatment sites being looked at shouldn’t be visible from any public road and the preferred site has only one neighbor far away.
That’s some of what was presented at the Town Hall Meeting. The meeting was taped and I hope the community will have a chance to watch the proceedings. A final presentation will be on July 28, when the report is due.
So, now, Los Osos. Start your engines. It’s a race to the cliff in a truck filled with an apparently asleep at the switch majority while in the front cab grabbing for the steering wheel are a gaggle of warring factions, all armed with hidden agendas, teeth-grinding grudges, Medean blood in their eyes, Jihadi folks with bombs strapped to their chests, True Believers wielding long knives, all Hell-bent on murder/revenge/and/or suicide – Kill the CSD! TRI-W Forever! Hang Sam Blakeslee! Up the British! Die!Die!Whoever! Programs! Get Yer Programs! Can’t Tell The Players Without No Programs!
In other words, just another typical day in Sewerville. So, stay tuned. And have a nice day.