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, as well as for potential 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
The EchoWater Project is among the largest public works projects
in Sacramento’s history. When completed, it will keep Regional
San in compliance with its regulatory permits and improve water
quality by resulting in a 99 percent reduction in ammonia
discharged to the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. Ultimately,
EchoWater will be capable of meeting our region’s
needs and protecting our waterways for generations to
The project is now in the construction phase—get current
construction updates here.
Low-Interest Financing Saving Millions
The project has received nearly $1.6 billion in low-interest
financing from the State of California’s Clean Water State
Revolving Fund. The favorable loan terms will save
ratepayers more than a half billion dollars in interest costs.
This low-interest financing for the EchoWater Project has been
provided in part by the Clean Water State Revolving Fund through
an agreement with the State Water Resources Control Board.
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.
Regional San’s 2010 discharge permit contains strict mandates
that require us to construct costly new “tertiary” treatment
processes for ammonia and nitrate removal, filtration and
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 been implemented. No further rate increases will be
necessary for the remainder of the project, which must be
completed in 2021–2023. For more information on the rate
impacts of the EchoWater Project, please visit Monthly Rates.
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