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We have no option except to raise our sewer rates

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Posted: Friday, June 12, 2009 10:00 pm

What would you pay each year to prevent a citywide epidemic of typhoid or cholera? To keep our rivers clean so we can fish and swim in them with minimal risk?

The price we pay is a pittance compared to the value we receive from our modern wastewater system. In a time when we need to make every dollar count, we receive a remarkably high level of service for about $1 a day.

All we need to do is flip a lever or keep a drain open, and our dirty water is safely gone. We don't give it a second thought. We don't have to.

For Lodians, we can simply flush it and forget it. The cost of this vital service, though, is going up. I'm not happy about that, and I know many citizens won't be. But we have little choice, as the rising costs are created by regulatory mandates. These mandates are set to achieve environmental standards, and they are beyond our control here in Lodi.

Let me provide a bit of background - and explanation.

We take this modern engineering miracle for granted. Hookworm disease is widespread throughout the world, infecting an estimated 740 million people where conditions are less sanitary. This parasite once was common in the southeastern United States, but is now largely controlled because of better waste collection and treatment practices. Also, cholera is almost unknown in the U.S. because of modern sanitation. But much of the world continues to suffer cholera pandemics, with more than 100,000 cases and 4,000 deaths from cholera in Zimbabwe since August.

In Lodi, we avoid this with the help of a sewer system made up of 194 miles of pipes, all leading to a modern treatment plant that separates, filters and disinfects about 2.4 billion gallons of wastewater a year. What starts as raw sewage ends up as water cleaner than what naturally flows past Lodi in the Mokelumne River.

All for about $1 a day.

The federal government essentially paid for the construction of the White Slough Water Pollution Control Facility in the 1960s, one reason we've enjoyed low rates over the years. But we're no longer the recipient of such generosity.

Instead, regulatory agencies set the bar higher for how we operate the treatment plant near Interstate 5. They don't care what it costs; just do it. Although we have a history of responsible operation and mutual respect with the Regional Water Quality Control Board, the environmental agency continually imposes conditions that require more construction, more oversight and more testing. That costs money.

It's this environment that has resulted in a series of wastewater rate increases in Lodi this decade, and the reason we need to raise rates again. You probably received a notice in the mail recently outlining the proposed increase to take effect July 16.

Honestly, this should have been considered more than a year ago. In all, about $50 million has been spent on wastewater plant improvements since 2001. In late 2007, the city issued more than $30 million in bonds in order to pay for state-mandated plant upgrades, facilities allowing the plant to reach its original capacity, and a $7.5 million emergency replacement of the 40-year-old pipeline that connects the city to the plant.

At the same time, however, the City Council was looking at taking measures needed to strengthen the health of the Lodi Electric Utility, and that resulted in higher costs for residents. In the meantime, we were able to use our savings in the sewer fund to temporarily offset the construction and higher operating costs at the sewer plant.

So we waited, rather than have residents and businesses deal with higher energy and sewer costs all at once.

Now we have no realistic alternatives to raising sewer rates, which will still be lower than those paid in many nearby communities. Keeping the status quo means either ignoring state rules and regulations and facing fines of up to $1 million a day, or cutting back other city services by about $2 million a year. That's roughly the annual budget of the Parks Division.

Our society has placed a high value on the environment and public health. We can engineer solutions that most of the world can only dream of. Although that carries a cost, it's a small price compared to what we would otherwise pay in the future.

Larry Hansen is the mayor of Lodi.

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  • posted at 4:58 am on Wed, Jun 17, 2009.


    Biodigesters in every home would clean our waste and give us energy to run our homes and cars. Every time I pay my utility bill or when I throw away garbage or flush the toilet, I think I am paying to have my energy taken away.

  • posted at 11:43 am on Tue, Jun 16, 2009.


    Hey Lodi Electricity Dept. Where is all the money you have collected from EVERY rate payer for "future infrastructure". Spend it on travel expense attending elaborate conventions? Or maybe perks for our city "fathers"? Here is an idea, why don't you save it and spend it on what it was collected for so rate increases aren't necessary when updates and infrastructure have to be made. Wow, you'd think one of you city geniuses would have thunk of that by now.

  • posted at 6:56 am on Tue, Jun 16, 2009.


    CogitoHe wouldn't be trying to pull the wool over over our eyes now would he? Not a former police chief. LOL

  • posted at 5:15 am on Tue, Jun 16, 2009.


    OTH, typhoid and Cholera are third world problems, not US. That's what makes the whole thing a joke.

  • posted at 3:03 am on Tue, Jun 16, 2009.


    Let's face it, they are going to raise any of the rates they want to so why all this blather out of Hansen? Raise the rates and be done with it. It's not like we have a choice now is it? You can do your scare tactics with typhoid and cholera, Don't make no difference. Just as a qestion and maybe someone has already asked but when is the last time we've had a case of either?

  • posted at 5:59 am on Mon, Jun 15, 2009.


    This entire article is absurd. It starts off with threatening residents with Typhoid and Cholera. When is the last time you've heard about an out break of either of these diseases in the US? There is no limit to the bogus tactics public officials will use to dig deeper into your pockets.

  • posted at 1:22 am on Mon, Jun 15, 2009.


    Ah Lodian, I see one of L's minions has come out from under the bridge....Have you ever lived more than 10 miles from Lodi? Bet not and you fit my previous comment perfectly.....

  • posted at 6:48 pm on Sun, Jun 14, 2009.


    Lodidian: Good one on the Judge Judy quote. Mayor Bob has been dribbling on my feet too long, and its NOT RAIN. LOL Maybe he needs Deoends?

  • posted at 5:33 pm on Sun, Jun 14, 2009.


    Not "op" , up.

  • posted at 5:32 pm on Sun, Jun 14, 2009.


    Illegal, these people must have been unaware that if you pay Mr. Jennings extortion fee op front, by making a requested donation to his organization, he'll leave you alone.

  • posted at 9:09 am on Sun, Jun 14, 2009.


    replaverMr Mayor why don't you answer the people when they ask where all the money went to that fund citizens have been paying for years the the was to replace the rotting pipes downtown? Do you go to bed everynight hoping those pipes don't break on your watch. Or as long as it's not in your neighbor you just don't give a a damn.

  • posted at 6:57 am on Sun, Jun 14, 2009.


    LOL! It's funny to see t jefferson call others a child. It's like he's stomping his feet at the same time. Too funny!

  • posted at 2:36 am on Sun, Jun 14, 2009.


    Ivan,We may not be talking about the same person here. L has repeated talked about his time at Davis, right here on this site. Are we talking about the same Leonard that current resides in either TX or VA, relocating due to wife's work? Good to know she is/was a professor, explains a lot of L's views on the world. If this is the same person, I am not disparaging your family, L brings this on himself. His comment come from a world sheltered from reality and reflect a naivety best demonstrated by children. At some point he shall grow up, I only hope the country can survive his (and people like him's) 40 year childhood.

  • posted at 5:02 pm on Sat, Jun 13, 2009.


    Mayor Hansen, please tell us there is no connection between this rate increase and the millions of dollars the city council has spent, and willcontinue to spend on the WID waterbank fiasco?As judge Judy says "don't p on my leg and tell me its raining.

  • posted at 2:40 pm on Sat, Jun 13, 2009.


    Leonard may have attended the University of California and my daughter may be a professor at UC Davis but Leonard has never attended UC Davis and, to my knowledge, he has never claimed that he did.I enjoy reading your posts here and I tend to agree with a lot of what you say but, when it comes to my family, please try a little harder to get your facts straight.

  • posted at 1:57 pm on Sat, Jun 13, 2009.


    Well Ivan,L talks about his time at UC Davis, loyalty oaths and defending the Constitution. Go have a conversation with him if you want to know where your money went. I can't be everyone's keeper, geeze, I am paying for 3.2 families care already through my taxes.

  • posted at 1:10 pm on Sat, Jun 13, 2009.


    Mr Jefferson, I can't help but wonder what you think you are achieving by misrepresenting Leonard's education and work experience.I paid for a portion of his education, so I know that he never attended UC Davis and, while I have always been proud of him whether he was digging ditches on a construction site or running his own company, to my knowledge, he has never worked as a janitor.Is there some larger point that you are trying to make here or are you just confused?

  • posted at 10:10 am on Sat, Jun 13, 2009.


    L - Education is a terrible thing to waste, thought you would have learned that when you were defending the country - oh wait sweeping the floors up at UC Davis. Here's a site for you yourself.Never said they didn't deseve a pension, just said the cost of the pensions they now have (raised to the current level in the last 10 years) are going to bankrupt the system. Take an LEO for instance. Starts at 20 works 30 yrs retires with 90% of pay COLAed each year. 10% contribution rate. After 7 years of retirement, the entire contribution of said LEO as well as all growth is GONE and this retirement is now covered by the taxpayers. Repeats 10s to 100s thousands of times = Bankrupt state. Get it? For an example look at GM, not as good benefits and bankrupt....

  • posted at 10:06 am on Sat, Jun 13, 2009.


    i love you, edumacation! Please protect me from the forces of evil that dwell in city management and council and don't drink the water. Just how many wells are shut down right now in Lodi because they're contaminated, Mr. Mayor?

  • posted at 9:26 am on Sat, Jun 13, 2009.


    No, you're his wife.

  • posted at 8:56 am on Sat, Jun 13, 2009.


    Patton1: Just because citizens don't approve of payoffs to their supporters doesn't mean they are wrong headed. Someone must standup to our self-loving representatives. I don't think that they are as evil or stupid as they appear. They are just misguided and listen to the orders of the GOB instead of to the votesr. The VOTERS voted again to stop the attempt to attack our city coffers with the phoney baloney RDA ruse. Now Hansen and company are trying to jack around our family businesses by forcing them out of business with yet one more blight inducing SWM.The claim about kissing the cheeks of the latino gamgs is accurate. These gangs are ILLEGAL. We don't need more laws, we need enforcement. No tickle tickle games with these career criminals.Some of the GOB landowners need the income from renting to multiple family occupancy of illegals. Its illegal to have five families living in one residence. It's illegal to live in a garage. Enforce the laws and we won't have these problems of blight. The house is not evil but these squatters are.

  • posted at 8:43 am on Sat, Jun 13, 2009.


    Observer 8:27- I thought you told me that I was papercut? LOL Talk about conspiracy theories. You have to back off on the pain medication, I hear it can be habit forming?illegalinLodi is RIGHT ON TARGET. Its okay to have plans and schemes for your buddies all paid for by taxpayers. But when an infrastructure issue arises you blame us, the taxpayers. Lets try this approach? Stop shoveling tax money to your buddies and we will have enough money to fix these type problems without raising taxes. One of your schemes to help your GOB buddies was recently voted down. Don't you ever stop to realize what you are doing to this town? Its the old pillage and take philosophy taht we see daily in the news. Vote for me--so I can give your money to my friends.

  • posted at 8:22 am on Sat, Jun 13, 2009.


    No matter who`s in charge, the past, present or the next in line to be mayor of Lodi, those 40 + year old sewer pipes need work or replacment. From the post I have read the blogers make Hanson sound like he is doing his best to piss off the residents of Lodi. While I won`t stick up for the Mayor, he has some valid points. The waste water must be treated, think of the "stink" if the waste water were to released into the San Joaquin River without being treated. Any idea where last night`s T bone goes after that cup of coffee in the morning, to the treatment plant of course. As far as all of you are concerned, out of sight, out of mind. To not bring this plant up to date, your out of your mind. Just like the water meters that will be installed, the state mandates what the cities must do to treat waste water.

  • posted at 7:19 am on Sat, Jun 13, 2009.


    16925 regarding your post at 10:10 AM....AMEN!

  • posted at 5:44 am on Sat, Jun 13, 2009.


    Mayor Hansen, you have a city computer and cell phone and a private sbcglobal mailbox, don't you? Please give us the real justification for the sudden need to update the water treatment plant at White Slough when it was so critical to build a new plant at Lodi Lake right away? Why don't you and councilman Johnson participate in these blogs and answer the questions put to you? You two usually don't even have the courtesy to respond to e-mails from Lodi citizens. Why not? If you're not spinning, you shouldn't have to worry. Or do you blog under one of those corny names that praise you for doing such a wonderful job. You owe every Lodian some honesty and not a bucket of BS spin.

  • posted at 5:35 am on Sat, Jun 13, 2009.


    The Lodi city council and management let the wineries and canneries contaminate and pollute this land. They had to to protect those valuable jobs at the businesses. It's pretty sad when they knowingly contaminated and then let their own citizens drink that poisoned water. They don't tell you that last year they were fined, $20,000 and $60,000 for that same contamination, some from Flag City. Mr. Bill Jennings filed a lawsuit and if you read the document posted earlier, it's pretty self explanatory. That's why those ponds have to be pumped, lined in concrete and treated with special ultraviolet lights. This upgrade wouldn't have been needed without your own city leaders cheating or just plain ignoring doing any testing at all. What happened all of a sudden to the new plant at Lodi Lake? They had to remedy the problem at White Slough before building another facility for the new developments and the superWalmart. And again observer and patton1, you are the same two idiots or paid bloggers that keep saying your city council and manager are doing such a great job. Great job, browneye, er brownie. Remember? I'll start calling you two the bush brothers.

  • posted at 5:10 am on Sat, Jun 13, 2009.


    The failure of measure w had NOTHING to do with this rate hike.Bad management and state madates are the reason for this increase.Beside, redevelopment cannot pay for the costs of the white slough water treatment plant.

  • posted at 5:08 am on Sat, Jun 13, 2009.


    patton1 wrote: "To bad the nut jobs conned people into voting against measure w! I told you then that the same people who were against keeping more money in Lodi would complain when rates had to go up."Really? You could also look at this another way: The rate hikes are here as retaliation for Measure W being defeated.

  • posted at 4:53 am on Sat, Jun 13, 2009.


    t jefferson wrote on Jun 13, 2009 8:11 AM:" Give me a break Hansen. You are a major cause of this problem. The pension paid to govnt workersI honestly don't know much about the subject of Lodi City worker's pensions so, TJ, enlighten me.Is there some reason that city workers should not receive pensions when they retire? I rode with the Lodi cops a few times over the years and they seemed to put in a honest days work. Should theyy not be comfortable in their old age?

  • posted at 4:43 am on Sat, Jun 13, 2009.


    You speak of: "The price we pay is a pittance compared to the value we receive from our modern wastewater system"!What about all those City wells that are STILL full of Cancer contaments on the East side of the RR Tracks?

  • posted at 4:06 am on Sat, Jun 13, 2009.


    To bad the nut jobs conned people into voting against measure w! I told you then that the same people who were against keeping more money in Lodi would complain when rates had to go up. You cant have it both ways people. When I saw that the measure w lost I started saving right away because I saw the rate hikes coming.

  • posted at 3:40 am on Sat, Jun 13, 2009.


    Taxpayer & Citizen, t&c, papercut, lodeye, eyewhitie and now illegalinLodi is the most hate filled person in our community. Hansen allowed the gangs to help rich people? All time low with that one.

  • posted at 3:27 am on Sat, Jun 13, 2009.


    Taxpayer & Citizen, t&c, papercut, lodeye, eyewhitie and now illegalinLodi. You are a real piece of work. Back to the name calling, conspiracy theories, ranting and raving. And to think how peaceful it was around here while you were suspended. Oh well, bring it on!

  • posted at 3:18 am on Sat, Jun 13, 2009.


    And, Hansen, how about an editorial on the new round of lawsuits filed by COG against Walmart and the city of Lodi on,I believe, Thursday? It was in the Stockton Record but not the Sentinel. Doesn't it have something to do with you, Johnson and Katzakian overruling your own planning commission to approve an already flawed EIR report? And doesn't the land involved in this project belong, or did belong, to one of your favorite buddies. Isn't that the real purpose of this Walmart project? To validate that land sale before the real estate appraisal on it drops any further? You are one terrible spinmaster, sir?

  • posted at 3:11 am on Sat, Jun 13, 2009.


    Give me a break Hansen. You are a major cause of this problem. The pension paid to govnt workers, the additional employees that are on the payroll but not needed. The money spent on all sorts of stupid programs, etc. All this is going to be supported on the backs of the things people need. Water, Sewer, etc. You are jacking the rates because you can. You are a worthless council person, but are in good company. Keep this letter you wrote, because you will need to pull it out next year when you jack up rates again.

  • posted at 3:02 am on Sat, Jun 13, 2009.


    The government wont pay for White Slough for one simple reason-Hansen, you allowed the wineries and canneries to dump their untreated water there and pollute not only the ground and crops irrigated with that contaminated water, but also the ground water. Isn't that the prupose of pumping all those storage ponds and having to make them concrete and lined, so the contamination can't further seep into the underground drinking water supply?

  • posted at 2:57 am on Sat, Jun 13, 2009.


  • posted at 2:55 am on Sat, Jun 13, 2009.


    You are a major player in our high water, electric and sewer, councilman. Not to mention responsible for the gangs and high crime rate while you were chief and looked the other way as the gangs organized and the wealthy took over Lodi.


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