Blog Posting Comments, Redux
The following was posted in the comment section, where it may well be overlooked. I’m moving it to the main blog, in hopes that more folks will read it. As with all “comments” posted in the comment section, caveat emptor. But some of the issues have been constantly discussed in this blog and the county and new TAC will also be covering them as well. Personally, I sure would like to know why WMH didn’t certify the project, and why theTRW-W costs didn’t include the additional costs to meet new Recharge Requirements? And other curious omissions. Since so much of the Recall and Tri W issues came down to “costs,” when things go missing, it’s troubling that maybe people are playing with apples and oranges, which usually means the taxpayer is probably about to get bamboozled then fleeced. In any event, Happy reading:
Source of Rain said...
SharkInlet,I sought responses from Dana Ripley to your comments/questions regarding Tri-W costs vs. out of town, gravity costs v. STEP/STEG. Here in Part 1 are your comments/questions. You'll find Ripley's responses in Part 2 following this.First your comments:
1. [Anon] wrote (in part) about TriW that "it's not sustainable OR affordable and won't clean water for decades if ever."Presumably you've got a cheaper and better way of reducing the nitrate loadings on our aquifer.Maybe it is my fault for not reading here very often, but I don't know of any such methods. Certainly the Ripley team didn't come up with any that are guaranteed to work any better and certainly once inflation and changes in design requirements (for example, increasing the size of the plant to correspond with actual wastewater production) is factored in, the Ripley cost greatly exceeeds TriW.
2. Several people at that time were able to show that many aspects of the Ripley report were quite stacked. For example, if a Ripley plan would take some three years more than TriW before construction could start, the inflation on the construction costs essentially would drive up the cost by about 25%. More delay, more money.Additional issues would appear to be that the Ripley system won't meet the real needs of our town (if I remember, they allowed for 50 gallons per person per day, about 1/3 the current usage). Furthermore, even if the Ag-exchange (in-lieu recharge) idea were to work, it would be hard to get enough Ag use where the farmers were drawing from our aquifer. There's also the denitrification issue. If we can't get all our water used by farmers directly above our aquifer, we'll need to denitrify the remaining water and recharge the aquifer directly at a site like Broderson.Don't get me wrong ... I like the Ripley idea and think he's done a great job thinking outside the traditional sewer box. The problem is that many aspects of the solution he came up with just won't work so well for Los Osos with our unique requirements.If you want to believe that raising these issues is electioneering, fine. It would be great if you would be willing to address the issues so that I can re-think my position if you show me to be wrong.
3. You write (in part): "Again, however, you persist, as do others of your mindset, in believing, incorrectly, that Tri-W has any relevance to this conversation. Knowing Tri-W fails almost every other vital criteria, you have chosen to make your last stand on economics -- the 'Time and Money' argument."To argue that TriW is irrelevant before the County has made that determination is a bit hasty, don't you think?I would also say that I am not making my last stand on economics ... it was my first stand. There are many other aspects of my point of view which I haven't emphasized ... by-n-large I just don't care a ton about the other issues as much."The 'Town and Money' argument fizzles when compared to the huge life-cycle savings of Ripley/Orenco. The dollar difference is simply too profound to ignore, as are the social impacts on the community between a $200 million sewer (as published in the Trv) and just about anything else you can name."The lifecycle costing approach is a sound one to determine which is the best long run project. The financing costs swamp every other cost we're talking about save the cost of putting in the pipe. In particular, a change in the interest rate from 2.5% to 6.5% (if we can't get a SRF for example) will matter more than difference in O&M between the TriW plant and any other possible option.Last Summer (again, shortly after the Ripley plan came out) I did some quick calculations about the energy savings they claimed to achieve. These savings were not enough to justify spending more than about an additional $0-15M (before financing ... depending on the inflation in energy costs compared to the CPI and the interest rate we get). Don't trust these numbers, however, because they are based on my memory and I don't have a copy handy. The point, however, should be well taken.The key here is that the energy savings that are key to Ripley's plan aren't that big of a deal if it costs us much more up front to get those savings down the road. It would be sort of like borrowing money to put in a solar electricity system in Los Osos. For some the principal and interest associated with the borrowing would more than swamp any energy savings for the next 15-20 years.Following are Dana Ripley's responses...
4:32 PM, March 21, 2007
Source of Rain said...
SharkInlet,Here are Dana Ripley's responses to your comments/questions. Hopefully they will give you some new religion. I offer them in the spirit of cooperation and the free exchange of information.Dana Ripley:
1. Our analysis (see Report Update, Executive Summary on CSD website) indicates the reverse, that the Update Plan, both in capital costs and ongoing costs is cheaper. What is not revealed in the analysis, however, is the absence of reverse osmosis/advanced oxidation (RO/AO) in the Tri-W/Broderson design. I wrote in November 2003 that the Broderson dispersal plan was in fact recharge of the shallow aquifer which by all accounts is a municipal groundwater source and that the State groundwater recharge reuse regulations would apply. This point was confirmed by the NWRI report in December 2006. The prior design team, in my opinion, had every intention of including the RO/AO process at Tri-W as a subsequent project (as required by state recharge reuse guidelines), however it was never included in the project report as a necessary or contingent treatment step, and it was never included in any analysis of alternatives. This was an obvious and improper deferral of a required component of the system, that if was appropriately considered in the beginning – would have made the Broderson dispersal plan so prohibitively expensive (and energy intensive) that the effluent plan would have been forced east to the agricultural areas in 2000 or 2001. District Engineer Rob Miller indicated to the NWRI panel in November 2006 that a $3 million pipeline (from Tri-W to the east ag areas) was yet another contingent project that was not included in the project report and was not in the project budget. If the RO/AO plan and/or the $3 million pipeline are/is included now in a side-by-side comparison, the cost differences would be even (substantially) greater than what we presented in the Executive Summary. As a final note on this topic, it is my personal speculation that this deferral of necessary system components (that were not included in the March 7, 2001 final wastewater facilities report by MWH) was in fact the reason why MWH project engineer Steve Hyland, or any other MWH registered engineer, refused to certify the final report in March 2001 as required by state law (Business and Professions Code § 6735). FYI, attached [in email to Source of Rain] is a copy of the title page of the final facilities report that lacks an engineer’s certification stamp or seal.
2. We believe that if our team is authorized quickly, that the compliance deadlines can be met, and would in fact probably beat the completion date of the Tri-W/gravity collection restart project. We believe that the County’s consultant team now realizes (based on the NWRI finding) that the RO/AO treatment process cannot be deferred and is the reason why County staff is now stating that the project cost is “$200 million or more.” This figure is 2 ½ times the Update project cost – so any delay now to get this right is probably time well spent. The 50 gallons per capita per day (gpcd) compares to 70 gpcd used in the MWH report, and is the statewide goal by the Department of Water Resources for interior residential water demand (which is equivalent to wastewater generation). Regarding “if ag exchange idea were to work” take a look at attachments regarding the North Sonoma County Agricultural Water Reuse Project. This is much larger than the LO ag reuse project but demonstrates how other California communities are dealing with similar issues. We see denitrification as a non-issue, and the NWRI agreed with us. We advocate smart nutrient management as opposed to strict end-of-pipe effluent limits that are necessary for direct groundwater recharge. In fact, I would personally consider the 7 mg/l total nitrogen limit for Broderson dispersal to be too lenient, it should be less than 1 mg/l for direct recharge of a potable aquifer. And that low N effluent quality is achievable reliably only with the RO/AO process that should be included anyway. With respect to the “unique requirements of Los Osos” it is our belief that the Update plan is perfectly suited to the unique requirements of LO, and that the Tri-W/gravity collection plan is not well suited at all to these unique requirements. Our comments here are not electioneering, but simply facts based on our professional judgment.
3. Time and money issues are of paramount interest to our team. First, we believe that the AB 2701 process timeline is far too long, and the $2 million budget is about 4 times what it should be to accomplish the TAC evaluation of alternatives. Given the fixed CDO deadline of January 1, 2011 – time is precious and it appears that no real project advancement will happen in 2007, unfortunately. It is now near the end of March, and what has happened so far besides colorful mailers? With respect to loan costs, we need a side-by-side comparison of the SRF reauthorization and the private finance option. Even though the SRF interest rate is lower, the conditions and points (eg. $6 million prior disbursement), coupled with >$100 million savings in capital costs, may make the interest rate a minor factor in the overall cost to the ratepayer. We think the energy savings are a significant consideration also. We have met with PG&E on this, and there will be an incentive check from the utility for using the more efficient system. We will working with the PG&E-SLO office to quantify what the incentive amount will be – but rest assured that the utility is under significant pressure from both the public and the CPUC to get wastewater utilities to reduce power demands. The global climate change issues are real, and PG&E is getting very, very aggressive on energy efficiency in the water/wastewater treatment sector of the state economy. PG&E estimates that wastewater treatment alone consumes over 1% of the state’s power demand. Our Tech Memo #8 estimates that the Update plan will consume about one third the power of the Tri-W/gravity collection plan, and this relative amount will of course decrease with the addition of RO/AO after the MBR plant. The energy intensity of wastewater treatment at Tri-W could easily double with the addition of RO/AO.Thank you, SharkInlet, for asking good questions and allowing me to seek answers from the source. Never be afraid to ask unless you're afraid to know.Source of Rain
4:43 PM, March 21, 2007