The Regional Water Quality Control Board, from day one, has recommended cities use treated secondary wastewater for field irrigation as the preferred option when addressing water quality control requirements. Field irrigation doesn’t require advanced treatment of the wastewater effluent, permitting requirements are less stringent, and in effect operation and maintenance costs are less.
The $11.4 million project that the staff is now recommending is an option that should have been implemented years ago in conjunction with the wastewater treatment plant’s $30 million dollar expansion-upgrade, which could have saved millions of dollars in excessive equipment purchases — which will sit unused when field irrigation is implemented. This savings could have paid for the $11.4 million dollar irrigation system improvements.
The $30 million wastewater treatment plant expansion-upgrade included millions of dollars in additional equipment cost to add capacity in excess of the needs of the residents of the city. This excess capacity is for future development, and is a debt development owes.
Prior city leaders implemented developer impact fees to mitigate the impacts to the city’s infrastructure. Former City Manager Rad Bartlam recommended a seven-year reduction of developer impact fees, and council voted for and approved that reduction!
In all fairness, the council cannot increase utility rates on the residents of the city until the council first reinstates developer impact fees. Impact fees could fulfill the city’s need for increased revenue and eliminate the need to increase utility rates on the residents of the city.
In December, the council approved a utility rate increase that took effect Jan. 1, which was the last one of a four-year series of rate increase approved by the council.
Proposition 218 is another series of rate increases the council is considering that could increase utility rates by 3 percent each year for the next five years!
The cure for apathy is comprehension. It’s every citizen’s duty, and in their best interest, to become aware and involved in city government. We needn’t look far to see how indifference has affected other cities.