Sewage, also known as wastewater, can be valuable, especially during a drought.
The Templeton Community Services District agrees with that. It actually adds some sewage to Templeton’s limited water supply. Of course it’s thoroughly treated first.
The majority of Templeton’s sewage, however, is piped to Paso Robles for treatment and disposal. As you’ve probably heard, Paso Robles has nearly finished enlarging and improving its sewage treatment plant.
Since 2001, the Paso Robles plant has faced pollution fines of $6,000 to $9,000 per month. So, to meet the state standards, the plant has been expanded, reconstructed and improved. It’s taken 2½ years. The cost is $49.6 million.
But why does Paso Robles treat Templeton’s sewage? Well, as I remember, it goes back to the 1970s. Paso Robles wanted to get a government grant to construct a main sewer line east of the Salinas River. Treating Templeton’s sewage was included in the grant to increase its chances of being approved.
The Templeton Community Services District now has a contract with Paso Robles to use approximately 9 percent of the treatment capacity of the city’s plant. Templeton pipes about 220,000 gallons of wastewater per day to the treatment plant. In return it pays Paso Robles a share of the cost of operating, maintaining and improving the plant.
The services district also has its own, smaller treatment plant in southwestern Templeton. It treats an average of 150,000 additional gallons per day. That treated water is then piped to ponds where it percolates into the underflow of the Salinas River.
Ninety-eight percent of that water is later retrieved downstream by two district wells, which tap the river’s underflow. One well retrieves the water after 28 months; the other well after 35 months. Flowing slowly through riverbed sand is Mother Nature’s water treatment.
The Templeton district is now planning to stop sending its sewage to Paso Robles, if possible. It won’t be easy. The sewage that goes to Paso Robles all comes from eastern Templeton, east of Highway 101. Managing to get it pumped to the plant in southwestern Templeton will be a major project.
And doing that would probably cost somewhat more than sending it to Paso Robles. But it would add 220,000 gallons per day to the Templeton water supply. That may be worth the extra cost, especially when we have our next long drought.
Thanks to our current drought more of us are beginning to see wastewater as valuable, not to be wasted. That’s how the Templeton Community Services District sees it. They see it as a water supply.