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Dozens of California Water Districts Paying to Meet Stricter Waste Water Requirements

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(Sacramento, CA)
Monday, September 17, 2012

Robert Crandall is with the Central Valley Water Board.  He says the California and Federal Toxic Rule Standards have tightened, facilities have aged and some environmental factors have forced wastewater treatment plants to upgrade or rebuild, "The water that is coming from the north is the highest quality water we have in the state.  So, we have sensitivity to folks and we want to make sure the high quality water stays high quality by the time it gets down to the Sacramento and Delta area and everything."

The Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District has embarked on a $2 billion facilities improvement project.  The district's new permit from the State has stricter standards for ammonia, nitrates and pathogens.  Stan Dean with the sanitation district says it has until 2021 to comply with those new standards, "All of that $2 billion is directly related to more strict requirements in our permit."
The Rio Alto Water District south of Redding is violating its state permit.   The district is under court order and has been fined for discharging chlorine and zinc into the Sacramento River.  Rio Alto's Martha Slack says the district has a plan to deal with the problem, "We're going to create a wetlands and discharge at land.  We're going to have walking trails, and we're hoping it'll be a very nice community solution to a regulatory issue." 

The district could face more fines before the project's completed.  It's already a year behind schedule. 

But Rio Alto does have a partial funding source for the project. The U.S. Department of Agriculture guaranteed a loan for $5 million to the district.  The cost estimate is $6 million. Slack hopes state and federal grants will fill in the gap.

Rio Alto will likely have a lot of competition for that money.  There have been thousands of violations issued against wastewater treatment plants in the last three years.  Many of those districts will likely be looking for help too.
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