City government

City Council to consider wastewater treatment options

By From page A1 | January 29, 2013

If the looming Measure I vote on the surface water project isn’t weighing enough on City Council members’ minds, in the coming months they’ll also have to make several key decisions about the city’s wastewater service.

That process starts Tuesday when the council must decide whether to spend a “not-to-exceed” amount of $220,000 on a study that would analyze a regional wastewater treatment project with Woodland, in parallel to the work on the Davis-only project the city has been pursuing for the past few years.

Staff also will present a third option, proposed by a private wastewater treatment facilities company, for the council’s consideration.

Whichever direction the council leans, each project is geared to help the city of Davis meet the tougher wastewater discharge set in 2001 by the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board.

If Davis fails to meet the standards, including lowering levels of copper, selenium and cyanide by 2017, it could potentially be subject to substantial fines by the state.

The meeting will start at 6:30 p.m. in the Community Chambers at City Hall, 23 Russell Blvd. It will be broadcast live on Comcast Channel 16 and AT&T U-Verse Channel 99. The city also will stream the meeting live at www.cityofdavis.org/media.

The original wastewater improvement project approved in 2010 by the City Council largely reworks Davis’ existing plant northeast of town.

Broken down into two phases of construction, upgrades to the plant have been estimated to cost the city about $95 million.

The regional project, on the other hand, would have Davis pipe its wastewater to Woodland, where it would be treated and discharged from that city’s existing treatment plant.

City staff estimates the regional option could save Davis between $19 million and $39 million over the cost of the current plan. The deal would include Davis paying Woodland an impact fee of $1 million per year for 30 years.

Woodland city leaders first approached Davis with a proposal to share wastewater treatment services in 2010, but the deal at that time didn’t translate into any substantial cost savings over the local project.

The lower costs this time around come from the reduction of capital improvements required at the existing Woodland plant “and a longer period for constructing the improvements,” the city staff report to the council said.

If the council approves the $220,000 for the study, city staff would come back in June with a presentation of both options and the council then would decide between the two.

City staff also expects that Woodland will pay between $50,000 and $90,000 to assist in analyzing the regional option.

Meanwhile, in order to keep the local project on schedule, the city will move forward on the bidding process with the teams competing for the design and construction work.

In December, the City Council was forced to reject bids that were submitted for the first phase of work on the local plant so that the council could look at considering regionalization.

If the council opts to continue with the local project, it will pick the winning design-build team for the secondary and tertiary phase of the project, worth about $90 million, in February 2014 from a shortlisted group of firms that it will have selected in July.

Construction then would begin in June 2014.

The third option for wastewater treatment services has been submitted by a private company called PERC Water. The firm says it can provide recycled water from compact facilities underground.

PERC Water has offered an unsolicited proposal for a water recycling and land reclamation plan that the city would build instead of the local or regional wastewater treatment facilities.

According to a public works staff report to the council, the city could decide to formally consider the proposal and then in five months, when the regional analysis comes back, reject it without incurring any additional costs except for staff time.

But city staff doesn’t appear to be convinced of the need to consider the private company’s proposal before the public bidding process of the local facility begins.

Plus, the Davis-only improvement option could deliver recycled water for a few million dollars extra if the council is interested in that service, the staff report states.

Interim Public Works Director Bob Clarke said there isn’t a need for water re-use in Davis yet, especially with an additional supply of surface water coming available.

“While staff believes there will be long-term opportunities for re-use to be a part of our conjunctive use plan, at present there is a very limited demand for the water at the price it would cost to deliver it,” Clarke said.

— Reach Tom Sakash at [email protected] or 530-747-8057. Follow him on Twitter at @TomSakash

Tom Sakash

Tom Sakash covers the city beat for The Davis Enterprise. Reach him at [email protected], (530) 747-8057 or @TomSakash.
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