To meet stricter state requirements and send a higher grade of wastewater to the aquifer that feeds Cambria’s emergency water supply project, the services district should do about $7 million in upgrades to its sewage-treatment plant, according to a consulting firm that has prepared a first-stage design of those improvements.
Eric Casares of Carollo Engineers told the Cambria Community Services District Board of Directors on May 28 that “the star” of the entire process right now is reducing the amount of nitrates in the wastewater that is part of the brackish water treated by the EWS project. State water officials require that nitrate level to be reduced.
With the upgrade’s 10-percent design in hand now, the district is seeking grants to help pay for modernizing the aging plant, according to General Manager Jerry Gruber.
The facility on Park Hill was expanded and upgraded nearly a quarter-century ago, after Lodge Hill residences were taken off septic tanks and added to the sewage-treatment system. That shift was mandated by the county, which had slapped the area with a building moratorium because of sewage-drainage problems.
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Retired Sen. Dean Florez, now the owner of Balance Public Relations, the district’s lobbyist on the EWS and sewage-treatment projects, told the Board of Directors on May 28 that “programs like yours are absolutely financeable” through such bond and low-interest-loan programs as the state’s Proposition 1 bond money.
There are “so many agencies you’ll have to deal with” to get the final permit for the EWS and permission to do the treatment plant upgrades, he said, but the EWS “is definitely intriguing, definitely a model project … a very exciting project to work on and a good model for the rest of the state.”
Gruber said later that the treatment plant’s upgrade may start with a headworks improvement that would filter rags and other inorganic materials from the sewage flow going into the plant. That improvement would be separate from the $6 million to $7 million upgrade project, he said June 1, and could come to the board for approval as soon as the June meeting. He may also seek to add a “nitrate curtain” — a plastic curtain for filtering nitrates — to the plant.