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Angels Sewer Plant: $6 Million Phase Two

Angels council reviews second phase of sewer plant; price tag tops $6 million Completing the next phase of the Angels Camp sewer plant, and fixing a leaky holding basin at the site, will cost an estimated total of more than $6 million.

That was the figure presented by city engineer Gary Ghio to the Angels Camp City Council during its May 20 meeting. The sewer plant expansion would boost its capacity from 400,000 gallons per day to 600,000 gpd.

Also included is an ultraviolet disinfection facility to treat wastewater that might have to be dumped into Angels Creek during the winter when storms inundate the facility with runoff water.

City officials are in the process of seeking a discharge permit from the state that would allow them to do that.

The expansion project has a price tag of about $5.05 million. The basin was discovered leaking into Six Mile Creek in September 2001 when crews began using it to hold effluent while the new sewer plant was being built.

That resulted in a cleanup and abatement order from the state Regional Water Quality Control Board, according to information from Ghio.

Repairing the 2.8 million gallon basin will cost about $576,904. And that´s just the latest estimate.

Ghio told the council that state officials initially said only a single layer of clay liner was needed in the basin. But after submitting plans to that effect, the state then required an additional thick plastic layer, at an additional cost of $60,000.

While that cost had already been factored into Ghio´s figures, it indicates how mercurial state officials can be with their requirements.

“Anytime you´re doing anything with the state Water Quality Control Board, it´s never a cakewalk and you´re never sure what they´re going to come up with,” City Administrator Tim Shearer said. That´s particularly true when it comes to the emergency discharge permit sought by city officials.

Since the new plant treats water to a Title 22 level – meaning it´s drinkable – the city council has applied for a permit that would allow the facility to discharge water directly into Angels Creek when winter storms overwhelm the facility. Other agencies seeking such a permit have had to construct facilities to cool the water, remove the chlorine that was used to disinfect the water in the first place, and even add certain minerals to the water, Shearer said.

It was hoped the ultraviolet disinfection facility proposed as part of Phase II would help ease some of those requirements since it would treat the water without chlorine.

Ghio said his $1 million estimate of that part of the project is high, based on a unit to clean all of the plant´s sewage. If that´s scaled back to treat just the water that would be discharged into the creek, costs would be lower.

Costs at this time are based on the city getting the discharge permit and are covered by water rates and connection fees approved last June. Monthly sewer rates rose to $35.17 and the connection fee was set at $8,045 at that time.

If the discharge permit is denied, then the only other alternative left to city officials is to construct a new holding reservoir for treated effluent to replace the present Holman Reservoir. That has an estimated price tag of $8 million, Ghio said, and could push rates to $71 per month and raise the connection fee to $16,000.

Don Deem, a director with the Calaveras County Water District, spoke as an audience member and said his agency is wrestling with the same concerns. The problem, Deem said, is that rural communities don´t have the kind of clout in Sacramento that larger cities do in dealing with these types of situations.

Small communities need to use the California Environmental Quality Act when dealing with developers to address the need for storage of treated effluent, Deem said. “Let them come up with some ideas,” he said.

The matter was presented as an information item and no official action was taken.

Story By Craig Koscho

Contact Craig Koscho at ckoscho@calaverasenterprise.com.