Regional San is undertaking a monumental effort—called the EchoWater Project—to take our region’s wastewater treatment to a whole new level.
In 2010, Regional San was issued stringent new treatment requirements from the State of California that require us to make the most significant upgrade to our wastewater treatment plant since its original construction. This new system, which must be in place by 2021-2023, will produce cleaner water for discharge to the Sacramento River and for possible reuse as recycled water (e.g., for landscape and agricultural irrigation).
We’re calling this major upgrade the “EchoWater Project” to reflect how it will take our wastewater and return it to a clean, natural state—much like an “echo” returning to its original source.
When completed, the EchoWater Project will be capable of meeting our region’s needs and protecting our region’s waterways for generations to come.
For all wastewater treatment plants, the level of treatment required before the water can be released back into the environment is dictated by a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. For Regional San, this wastewater discharge permit is issued by the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board (Regional Water Board), the state agency that regulates wastewater dischargers in our region.
Our 2010 discharge permit contains strict mandates that require Regional San to construct costly new “tertiary” treatment processes for ammonia and nitrate removal, filtration and enhanced disinfection:
Ammonia and nitrate removal: Using a process called “biological nutrient removal” (BNR), this will eliminate nearly all ammonia and most nitrate from the effluent (treated water), addressing concerns about possible impacts these constituents may have on the ecosystem, both here and downstream.
The requirements of our new discharge permit will cost our region’s ratepayers about $1.5-2.1 billion to build. On top of that, about $50 million per year in ongoing maintenance and operations costs are anticipated.
Gradual annual rate increases to fund these improvements have already begun and will continue to be necessary until the project is completed in 2021-2023. For more information on the anticipated rate impacts of the EchoWater Project, please visit Monthly Rates.
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