When the City Council rejected a proposal in December to spend up to $500,000 to study a regional wastewater treatment project with the city of Woodland, the hesitation appeared to be about the money.
However, with the council on Tuesday turning down a mere $14,000 offer for a more abbreviated investigation of the regional plan by an expert panel, it appears that money isn’t the only issue.
But because the city of Davis’ project to upgrade its own wastewater treatment plant must begin construction later this year, the council doesn’t have much more time to mull it over.
So, rather than commissioning an expert panel Tuesday, the council instead decided to invite experts to a future meeting where they would lay out all the information they know about the viability, or lack there of, of a regional wastewater treatment project.
Then, the council will debate and make a final decision on whether to consider investing any further resources in regionalization.
Regionalization likely would mean piping Davis wastewater north to Woodland’s existing wastewater treatment plant. Woodland officials approached Davis late last year with a proposal that Davis city staff say could save $30 million over the $95 million local project.
While the debate isn’t scheduled until late March, the council members did show a bit of their hands Tuesday on how they feel about the Woodland option.
Councilman Lucas Frerichs was the most outspoken against it and actually made a motion to throw out the possibility of regionalization entirely. Frerichs has concerns about sharing governance of the plant with Woodland, about the potential to harm or lose the city’s wetlands and about possibly losing the ability to implement water reuse, among other issues.
Mayor Joe Krovoza, however, said that with the possibility of saving $30 million on the table, the council really ought to consider looking into it further.
Councilwoman Rochelle Swanson also was interested in the governance aspect. Councilman Brett Lee added that he could see the vote coming down to governance rather than the technical feasibility of the project or its potential cost savings.
Former Councilwoman Sue Greenwald, who was intimately involved in the decision-making process when the council first decided to go local with its wastewater plans, spoke during public comment and raised concerns similar to Frerichs’.
— Reach Tom Sakash at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8057. Follow him on Twitter at @TomSakash