Drinking Water and Wastewater Update June 2018

On June 7, 2018, I attended another of the water and sewer project meetings held by the Community Services District (CSD).  This meeting included members of the CSD; members of the Boonville Planners, a group put together by the CSD, including Boonville property and business owners; the project manager from the Sacramento State Waterboard Funding (for both Wastewater and Drinking Water projects); folks from the State Water Resources Control Board in Santa Rosa; folks from Rural Communities Assistance who help the CSD navigate the process; and, finally, our two engineers from Brelje and Race, the firm hired by the CSD to plan the projects.

Drinking Water

The first item was Drinking Water.  Jack Locey, from Brelje & Race, brought the group up to speed with progress since the last meeting.  The project initially started off quickly with a location for water storage identified and with a landowner willing to cooperate with the project.  Then began the process of identifying where the water was going to come from; as Locey stated “water supply was going to be a challenge”.  Initially the team was hoping to identify a small number of high producing wells but this wasn’t to be.  Instead, studies, including some water quantity tests on existing wells, indicated that most “good” wells in the area produce between 8-10 gallons per minute (gpm).  This information indicates that more wells are needed.  The number of wells needed, based on approximately 270 hook-ups, is 16.  The amount of water and the amount of storage needed in case of fires is a lot.

Areas for the wells include the Johnson property (also called “Asti Field”) across from the high school, the Lambert Lane area (several property owners there) and the Meadow Estates wells and some others in that area.  The project is to run from Hutsell Lane to the Elementary School; however, the inclusion of Anderson Valley Way only requires one more well; the Elementary School has an existing well and thus won’t add to the load.

Because most of these existing wells are not cased to 50 feet the water will have to be treated as though it is ground water.  Locey indicated that not casing these wells that deep is not unusual as much of the water in those wells comes from above that level.  It is more feasible to leave that as it is and treat the water rather than case them and need even more wells.

Cost remains the largest question; at this point it is estimated to cost close to $16,000,000 ($60,000 per hook up).  Boonville is considered a “severely disadvantaged economic community”.  Thus, we qualify for considerable State aid; however, even that is not enough and at this point the CSD is starting to look at other sources for grants.  Obtaining loans is likely not feasible because rates for service must be kept low; the low rates will likely not allow servicing a note.  To be clear, the community is not being asked to pay for this project; the project will only move forward if full funding is found.

Wastewater

The second item on the agenda was wastewater.  Dave Coleman of Brelje & Race brought the group up to speed on this topic.  Since the last meeting, two other entities have expressed interest in joining the community – the high school and the health center.  Also, the project would like to include the Fairgrounds (all except the grandstands, the RV parking and the camping area) in order to protect the ground water.  The project now includes information about the large events at the Fairgrounds, particularly the Sierra Nevada World Music Festival (SNWMF).  This event is estimated to create 45,000 gallons of waste water per day (the whole of the community will likely generate 50,000 gallons per day); measurements taken during the next SNWMF will provide a better idea of the actual number of gallons generated per day.

A determination made since the last meeting is that the best financial option for the water treatment system is a grinder system.  This will include a grinder at each hook up which will grind the solids down before pumping them to the treatment location.  In terms of costs, the project will cover costs associated from the grinder pump to the system; the funding will also cover the private laterals to the parcel’s grinder pump.  This will ensure proper capture of sewage in the Waste Water district.  Responsibility for electricity to the grinder pump will rest with the homeowners’, estimated to be about $17/year.

The sewer system will be slightly smaller than the water system; other than the high school and clinic, it will stop at the bridge at the north end of town and won’t include Meadow Estates.

The Johnson property/Asti Field across from the high school is a location for the treatment system.  This will include a set of spray fields for summertime irrigation with treated water and a winter storage pond of about 5 acres; the airport proximity requires covering the pond.  As the covered pond will hold treated water no odors will be emitted.  The pond and spray fields are for the liquid portion of the waste.  It is likely that the solid portion will be pressed (the liquid will be removed) and then trucked elsewhere for disposal.  A pleasant surprise is that there is a demand for sludge like ours which is not contaminated by industry.

The cost is also the big question here.  The cost estimate is between $12,000,000 and $14,000,000 (about $60K/household).  There is State grant money for this project, however, it is not enough and more sources are needed.  As with water, this project will not go forward without funding; the CSD is fully aware that property owners cannot afford this on their own.  The CSD is committed to making this happen for the community and not at the community’s expense.

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