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Letter: Not all work on treatment plant was for growth

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Posted: Thursday, March 27, 2014 12:00 am

I take exception to several comments in the letter published Feb. 13 critical of Lodi’s past improvements at the wastewater treatment plant.

First, not all the work done in the 2000’s was for growth or advanced treatment. The concrete pipeline from the city to the plant, installed when the plant was built in the late 1960’s, was literally falling apart and was repaired with a PVC liner that will last many more decades. Portions of the original plant received much-needed improvements in the way of corrosion rehabilitation and modern screening.

Second, although the Regional Board does promote land disposal, this does not mean that requirements for treatment stand still. In Lodi’s case, increased requirements for nitrogen removal led to major improvements to the secondary treatment process — in effect, requiring large capital expenditures.

The advanced (tertiary) treatment portion of the project was required by the Regional Board to allow any discharge to the San Joaquin Delta. Given the high cost of land, relying on 100 percent land disposal is not always economical. In addition, having tertiary treatment allowed the water to be used for the new power plant which pays the city a substantial amount of money for this water.

Yes, part of the cost can be (and was) allocated to new growth; however, municipal lenders all require that the borrower show that their rate structure will support ongoing debt service. With the housing recession, there was no development, hence no additional revenue. There are several ways the city can charge new development for these past costs. While I am not aware of details of how the city is currently accounting for new development’s share, I would be surprised if they are not being addressed in a reasonable manner.

Similarly, knowing the staff and consultants involved, I am certain that, as in the last decade, improvements to the city’s wastewater treatment, handling and disposal are being thoughtfully planned and designed.

To look back at past work in the light of current standards and regulations is an exercise in 20/20 hindsight.

Richard Prima

Lodi Public Works Director 1998-2008

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