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California approves funding for Paso Robles water treatment plant

Paso Robles wastewater manager Matt Thompson stands in an area planned to house parts of a $18 million tertiary sewage treatment plant during a tour in December 2015.
Paso Robles wastewater manager Matt Thompson stands in an area planned to house parts of a $18 million tertiary sewage treatment plant during a tour in December 2015. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

California water officials on Thursday approved funding for Paso Robles’ proposed $18 million tertiary sewage treatment plant, the final in a series of major infrastructure projects that will bring about 3,300 acre-feet of water to the city each year.

Dick McKinley, Paso Robles’ director of public works, said Thursday that the city plans to award a contract bid next month and break ground on the plant in June or July.

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Jordan Cunningham. Tribune photo

State Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham, who in December co-authored a letter with state Sen. Bill Monning urging the State Water Resources Control Board to expedite the funding for the the long-awaited project, released a statement Thursday saying he was “thrilled” it can now get underway.

The tertiary treatment plant is the last of three projects undertaken to meet the city’s growing water demands. Last year, the city finalized a $47 million modernization of its sewage treatment facility, which processes about 2.7 million gallons per day. The Nacimiento Water Project, completed in 2015, pipes water to the city from the $11.7 million Lake Nacimiento Treatment Plant.

The sewage plant currently processes about 2.7 million gallons daily, water that now is discharged into the Salinas River. The tertiary plant will allow the city to treat and recycle that wastewater for irrigating parks and other public properties.

Like the two other projects, the tertiary plant is being paid for with a combination of state and federal low-interest loans and grants under the 2004 voter-approved Proposition 1, which allocated $7.12 billion to local-level water infrastructure projects.

Although design and environmental review for the tertiary treatment plant have been completed, the funding application had been stuck at the State Water Board’s division of financial assistance for more than 15 months when Cunningham and Monning wrote their letter saying the project was “shovel ready” and that further delay would drive up construction costs.

Water Board spokesman Tim Moran said Thursday that the tentative agreement just needs final signatures to be official.

If all goes according to schedule, the plant could be completed by the end of next year, McKinley said.

Matt Fountain: 805-781-7909, @MattFountain1

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