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Locals Plan for Occidental Wastewater Treatment Plant


Locals Plan for Occidental Wastewater Treatment Plant

by Anne Maurice

It’s simple, straightforward, practical, cheap and can be implemented by the 2018 (time-frame required by the “Cease and Desist Order“). A new AERO-MOD tertiary treatment plant; storage in the existing ponds on Lu-Dan (off Occidental Road); irrigation of redwoods and new water-loving landscaping in and around the existing ponds on Lu-Dan and around the town of Occidental; a “truck-fill station” for agricultural, nursery and other uses.

This will get the “show on the road”; stop illegal discharge into “Graham’s Pond”; eliminate any hint of condemnation (eminent domain); lift the Cease and Desist Order; and allow flexibility for future options.

It’s inexpensive:

Written estimates for the AERO-MOD system in Occidental = $960,000 for a new plant; $269,500 for tertiary filters; $86,000 for Ultra-Violet disinfection. Add, say, $48,000 for above ground storage tanks and we have a mere $1,363,597!!! Add some bucks for site preparation and studies and we get a grand total of $2 - $2.5 million. A pittance compared to the $7 - $10 million estimates they‘ve been throwing around! They were prepared to spend at least $7 million a couple of years ago on the failed proposal on Facendini with no upgrade whatsoever to the existing antiquated and under-performing treatment plant!


1. Pick AERO-MOD! Check in with the City Manager and treatment plant operators in Ferndale. They have years of experience with the technology and the 3-year old plant still looks brand-new!

2. Select an engineering consultant firm now;

3. Install the new AERO-MOD plant at the “lift-station” on the old Occidental-Camp Meeker Road;

4. Discharge the tertiary-treated, ultra-violet disinfected wastewater into Dutch Bill Creek in the rainy season;

5. Install a “truck-fill station” providing free treated wastewater; subsidize trucking costs as incentives;

6. Offer free above-ground 5,000 gallon storage tanks (approximately $2400 each retail cost) to interested property owners (farmers, ranchers, nurseries, etc.) who can commit to continuous daily dry-season use of the treated wastewater. Occidental produces less than ½ acre foot (140,000 gallons) per week. Storage /holding tanks cost “peanuts” compared to millions of dollars and years of delay to complete geo-technical studies for concrete lined in-ground reservoirs (you can’t just dig a hole with a back-hoe and hope for the best)!

7. With AERO-MOD the existing ponds on Lu-Dan will be empty. AERO-MOD requires no “equalization ponds”. (“Equalization ponds” even-out the wide swings in the amount of water coming into a treatment plant during huge storm events). AERO-MOD can eliminate the need for equalization ponds by custom-sizing the plant specifically for Occidental! With AERO-MOD the ponds on Lu-Dan will be empty! That’s empty! EMPTY! Repeat -- EMPTY! Those ponds hold almost 900,000 gallons of water which just happens to be the amount of storage SCWA engineers say they need for dry-season only. (2-3 acre feet equals 650,000 - 975,000 gallons)! Immediate need for dry-season storage solved! SCWA needs to hire an engineering firm consultant to get to the truth of this matter!

8. Irrigate new water-loving landscaping (redwoods, weeping willows, lawn, rhododendrons, etc. on SCWA’s permanent easement surrounding the ponds on Lu-Dan; transform the existing smelly eyesore into beautiful fish and turtle, duck and geese friendly habitat with the tertiary water; negotiate and provide incentives to obtain leases for pasture, redwood and other landscape irrigation from willing landowners contiguous to or near the Lu-Dan ponds. How much land is actually needed for dry-season irrigation? Maybe 6? Maybe 8 acres of pasture, not counting other (redwood, etc.) irrigation.

9. Install new water-loving landscape on the SCWA-owned land on the Occidental-Camp Meeker Road and on the Old County-owned railroad right-of-way (behind the fence off Graton Road opposite the “Y”), if possible, being mindful of a probable need for a 100 foot setback from Dutch Bill Creek.

10. Irrigate new landscaping around the “Y”.

11. Evaluate this plan per CEQA (Mitigated Negative Declaration or EIR) and adjust it if adverse environmental impacts are identified by SCWA, Regulatory Agencies or the public during the CEQA process;

12. All this can be accomplished by 2018 complying with the Cease and Desist Order, ending the illegal discharge into Dutch Bill Creek and producing a higher level of effluent than the existing operation (currently being fined by the Regulators for poor performance).

The Ad Hoc Committee for Clean Water, John and Pauline Loades and Citizens to Save our Trees and Wells will host an informational meeting in Occidental, Thursday, February 12, at 6:30 pm at the Union Hotel.

Bring your ideas. Please look at the treatment plant on Lu-Dan next to the cemetery on Occidental Road (Google Maps) and the “lift station” on Occidental Camp-Meeker Road (next to Bohemian Highway) before the meeting so you can visualize what we are proposing.


Ad Hoc Committee for Clean Water, P. O. Box 484 Occidental, CA 95465,

707 874-3855 ph; 707 874-2493 FAX