Gaaak! I see everything twice, again!
Yes, it’s déjà vu time. Again the questions: Why wouldn’t the Regional Water Quality Control Boards want to get stuff done right the first time instead of jamming artificial, arbitrary deadlines onto municipalities then threatening FINES!FINES!FINES! which buffalos communities into what could well be the wrong technology which creates MORE water problems further down the line when everyone then stands around wringing their hands saying, “Oh, Dang, we cudda hadda V-8, but Oh, nooooo, YOU hadda make us drink this stuff?”
Or as my sister once observed of the phone company she worked for (the biggest) “Why is it they never have enough money to do it right the first time but always have enough money to do it over again at twice the cost?”
Hold onto you seat, it’s Rerun Time:
New Santa Paula sewage plant in limbo
City faces $25,000 per day in fines if deadline is missed
By Tony Biasotti, tbiasotti@VenturaCountyStar.comJanuary 7, 2007
The city of Santa Paula isn't getting any closer to building a new sewage treatment plant, despite the $25,000 a day in fines that hang over its head if it misses its 2009 deadline.
More than a year ago, the City Council hired a designer, and last year it zoned land for the new plant, but the price tag — about $75 million, the biggest public project in city history — has the council stepping carefully. It's pausing for as long as six weeks while it considers scrapping the design and moving to a different technology that's potentially cheaper.
However, the clock is ticking. The water that the current treatment plant dumps into the Santa Clara River doesn't meet Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board standards. The board has agreed to suspend the fines normally associated with such violations, but if Santa Paula doesn't have its new plant up and running by October 2009, a $25,000 daily maximum fine is back on the table.
If construction work began immediately, the new plant would be finished in late 2009 or early 2010, said Cliff Finley, Santa Paula's public works director. If the city starts over with a new design, it would set the project back 12 to 14 months, he said.
"If we proceed down the road we're currently on, we're barely going to make it, or we're not going to make it, but at least we're going to be close," Finley said.
The current road now leads toward a new plant with a technology known as a membrane bio-reactor. Waste water is filtered through tanks and treated until it is clean enough to use in landscaping.
The new option the City Council might consider is Vertreat, a proprietary system owned by a Canadian firm called Noram Engineering and Constructors Ltd. It filters the water through deep wells instead of aboveground tanks. It requires one additional step to produce reusable water, Finley said.
Vertreat was ruled out when the city first studied it because it hadn't been used yet in a city sewage plant in California. However, there's some hope it might be cheaper than a membrane bio-reactor system. Finley said the city's initial study showed about the same price for the two, but it was based on rough estimates because Noram didn't participate in the study.
Now the city has invited the company to make a pitch to the City Council before Feb. 15. Noram's president wants to appear, but he hasn't committed to a date yet, City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz told the council Tuesday.
Bob Gonzales and Ralph Fernandez, the two new members of the council, were the most vocal advocates of giving Noram a chance at the project. A small delay is worth it if it saves money, Gonzales said.
"I don't like to be put into a corner when it comes to spending the public's money," he said.
If the new plant comes in at the current estimate of $75 million, Santa Paula residents will see their sewage bills go from $42 a month to more than $60 a month by 2009.