News Feature | April 2, 2014

Santa Rosa Studies Best Use Of Wastewater Capacity

By Sara Jerome
@sarmje

santrarosareg

Santa Rosa may invest in its wastewater infrastructure in what could be lucrative development for local businesses. 

The city is considering a proposal that would allow "trucks to deliver high-strength wastewater directly to the Laguna Wastewater Treatment Plant, a potential boon for regional wineries, breweries and others that currently haul such waste to a treatment facility in Oakland," according to the North Bay Business Journal

It is "a long-discussed proposal to further accommodate the accelerating growth of the region’s beverage and food producers," the report said.

At this point, the city is still studying the proposal. The City Council "authorized the utilities department to spend $150,000 to design a receiving station for slurry from food processing companies," The Press Democrat reported

Treating waste locally would be the goal. That would keep trucks "off the highway, and boost the plant's energy output in the process, explained Mike Prinz, who oversees the Laguna Road treatment plant," the Democrat report said. 

As Prinz put it, the proposal is not "rocket science." Currently, "the plant operates huge digesters that break down human waste into gas that powers generators supplying up to one-third of the plant's summertime power needs. The city has been studying for years how it could use other waste materials to provide a disposal option that also would boost the gas production from its digesters," the report said. 

"The digesters have extra capacity, but there isn't currently a practical way to add food waste to them, Prinz said. The receiving facility would create a way for those wastes to be efficiently added to the digesters, he said. The types of waste material and costs are all yet to be determined," it continued. 

Santa Rose is a medium-sized wastewater district. 

The city "runs a local collection system consisting of 580 miles of sewer mains serving about 45,000 customers.  Wastewater travels by gravity through the mains under the street until lifted by one of the City’s 19 wastewater lift stations so it can continue its gravity propelled journey to the Subregional Treatment Plant.  The Utilities Department maintains the portion of the sewer that is within the public right-of-way," the city explained.  

Image credit: "Santa Rose Public Library," © 2011 wheezy, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en

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