Water conservation


Intensified water conservation due to drought could dry up house building in Manteca, but not for the reason one might think.

The Manteca sewage treatment plant is approaching capacity due to “increased solid waste load”. It’s not just about 700 housing units and various businesses added every year.

Simply put, people are flushing less water down the toilet via the “if it’s yellow, it’s soft” rule and sending less water down the drain from showers, baths, dishes and laundry .

All of this is essential to stretching the city’s water supply as we head into a fourth year of drought.

But in terms of the treatment process, it eats away at the planned treatment capacity because there is less water in the system in proportion to the solids to treat what is sent to the treatment plant.

The board on Tuesday approved spending $508,057 on plans and specifications for seven projects designed to improve the process so the plant can eventually operate near its adjusted design capacity of processing 8.5 million gallons of water. water per day.

The plant was originally designed for 9.23 million gallons per day as originally built. This capacity has been reduced over the years by state-mandated changes to the wastewater treatment process.

Mayor Ben Cantu removed the consent agenda item for staff to expand on the treatment plant situation.

“I want the community to know that we are close to capacity and we are in a position to have to expand the plant,” Cantu said. “The last time we were in this situation was in the mid-1980s and we woke up one morning and we were at full capacity and went into a three-year moratorium while the company was expanding. factory. I’d like to avoid that.”

From the way the item was on the agenda, it was not clear that the proposed improvement projects were essential to accommodate more connections in the near future.

Staff said daily throughput was between 7.3 and 7.5 million gallons per day. The increase in the percentage of solids processed due to water conservation measures brings the plant’s operational capabilities closer to their cap of 8.5 million gallons per day.

The proposed improvements are designed to ensure that connections can be established for up to three to five years before reaching their maximum.

Meanwhile, staff are working on a fourth-phase expansion project that would allow for more sewer connections for years to come.

Staff said the seven projects would “give us some breathing room” as the fourth phase design and build stories unfold.

“I just don’t want to wake up one morning and find that we had to turn off the building permit tap.” Cantou said.

Councilor Charlie Halford noted that the silver lining of the sewage treatment plant situation was the fact that “water conservation works”.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email [email protected]