A 100-acre plant south of Flag City, with miles of sewage pipelines and tanks of sludge and waste, is no one’s idea of a tourist destination. But without it, no one in Lodi could take a shower, flush their toilet or even wash the dishes without finding a place for all that wastewater.
It’s the White Slough Pollution Control Center, and it’s responsible for cleaning 5 million gallons of grey water each day for the city of Lodi.
“The whole place is just a marvel of engineering,” said Larry Parlin, deputy Public Works director.
But with a round-the-clock cleaning cycle and an ever-increasing supply of soiled water, the plant needs frequent maintenance and upgrades.
Last week, the Lodi City Council approved $300,000 in repairs and upgrades to the plant’s main building, including an expansion of the women’s locker room. When the plant was created in the ‘60s, treating wastewater was mostly a men’s industry. But now six women work there daily, and they need more space.
The planning and design phase will begin in a matter of weeks, and construction will begin in January.
In the works are more projects to find a use for all the water, gases and solids the plant produces.
One idea is to install two micro-turbines to convert methane gas into electricity. The power would be used on-site. The project could cost $1 million.
Another plan is to find a way to store the water that is released into the Delta during the winter, when there are no crops to irrigate. Later this year, a study will begin to find out what it would take to install that storage.
In October, the new five-year water discharge permit from the California Water Resources Control Board will be renewed.
Right now, workers at the plant are cleaning out a 35-foot-tall anaerobic digester. It’s one of four used to break down the sludge sifter out of the water. They are also working on replacing a rotating screen to filter out large debris.
Contact reporter Sara Jane Pohlman at firstname.lastname@example.org.