Council: City at the table with RWQCB, plan forming to sell recycled water

March 03, 2017
Santa Paula News

The city is back at the table with the state Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB) over its permit and chlorides but the City Council learned help is on the way, and it’s a lot cheaper than what they had been told.

At the February 21 meeting, Acting Public Works Director John Ilasin, updated the council about the negotiations with the RWQCB and results of the water softener buyback program, which has created measurable improvement, dropping chlorides by 15 percent.

Betsy Elzufon of Larry Walker & Associates told the council the board had been concerned about chlorides that impact groundwater and wells.

“As a result, the city implemented a number of programs,” including the water softener buyback program that has proven successful.

Another way to reduce chlorides said Elzufon is to get water out of the percolation ponds after it goes through processing at the wastewater treatment plant, and out of the groundwater. Rather, the plan is to get that water and get it into the hands of those that will purchase and use it.

“We’ve been working hard to get approval of the program,” from the state and already South Mountain Farmers, Mountain View Golf Club, Limoneira Co. and United Water Conservation District have all shown an interest in the recycled water.

“Once we get authorization,” Elzufon said the city “can take water out of the pond, use it and have less impact on ground water…and we’ve been able to communicate that to the regional board. The city has convinced the regional board we are taking this very, very seriously,” and there is time to plan and craft a solution to the city’s benefit.

The city’s permit is scheduled to expire in May and the state has already committed to extending the expiration date to December 15, 2017.

Such a plan would forego the $40 million Reverse Osmosis system proposed by PERC, the company that built and owned the plant with Alinda Capital Partners before the city purchased it. PERC remains the plant’s operator although their contract has been cancelled and a new operator will be starting soon.

The council was told they would be updated.  

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