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Public Review For Occidental Wastewater Transport

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Public Review For Occidental Wastewater Transport

The Sonoma County Water Agency, which operates the Occidental County Sanitation District’s (District) Wastewater Treatment Facility (WWTF), has released an environmental analysis of a proposed project to transport the District’s untreated wastewater to nearby treatment plants for treatment, storage, and disposal.

The “Initial Study/Negative Declaration: Occidental County Sanitation District Wastewater Transport Compliance Project” (Project) would make minor modifications to existing facilities, and would allow wastewater to be transported to treatment plants near Guerneville and in the Airport Business Park. Comments can be submitted for the environmental document until 5 p.m., January 23, 2017.

Currently, the District discharges secondary-treated effluent into an on-stream storage pond (Graham’s Pond) located at the headwaters of Dutch Bill Creek during the summer, and to Dutch Bill Creek during the winter. Dutch Bill Creek provides habitat for endangered coho salmon. An order by the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board requires the District to stop releasing secondary-treated effluent into Graham’s Pond and Dutch Bill Creek by 2018.

The Project would bring the District into compliance with the order by ceasing the discharge of secondary-treated effluent into Dutch Bill Creek and Graham’s Pond by transferring the treatment, storage, and disposal of untreated wastewater to the Russian River County Sanitation District (RRCSD) WWTF and Airport-Larkfield-Wikiup Sanitation Zone (ALWSZ) WWTF. 

Wastewater would primarily be transported from the District’s Lift Station to the RRCSD Main Lift station. The Project would generate approximately five truck trips daily during dry weather. During large storms, the trips could increase to 15 trips daily. If roads are closed, or there are operational issues at RRCSD, wastewater would be transported to the ALWSZ WWTF.

The District has worked toward solving its wastewater challenges since the late 1990s. Over the past two decades, at least 15 alternatives have been identified, studied and rejected because they were technically unworkable, did not have community support or were too expensive.

Ratepayers in the District pay $2,068 per “equivalent single dwelling” annually, which ranks among the highest rates in the state. Through its general fund, the Water Agency subsidizes District operations by about $400,000 annually to prevent additional rate hikes. The proposed Project would cost an estimated $1.4 million to construct and would cost approximately $900,000 annually to operate.

The Initial Study/Negative Declaration (IS/ND) was prepared in compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act, and found that the project would have no significant effect on the environmental. The IS/ND can be found online at scwa.ca.gov/OCSD/.

The public review period on the IS/ND ends at 5 p.m., January 23, 2017. Comments should be submitted to Jeff Church, 404 Aviation Blvd, Santa Rosa, CA 95403 or to jchurch@scwa.ca.gov.

Copies of the IS/ND can be found online at scwa.ca.gov/OCSD/  or at the following locations:

Sonoma County Water Agency: 404 Aviation Blvd., Santa Rosa, CA 95403

Guerneville Regional Library: 14107 Armstrong Woods Road, Guerneville, CA 95446

Occidental Library:  73 Main Street, Occidental, CA 95465

Forestville Library:  7050 Covey Road, Forestville CA 95436