Is there a long term storage solution?

Title 22 are the rules that California has established for the use of reclaimed water from sewer plants. There is a good article on reclaimed water that discusses Title 22 on this website. One very important thing to know about Title 22 is that it requires sewer systems that use reclaimed water to have either redundant mechanical systems in case a piece of equipment fails or a long term storage solution in case the effluent from the sewer plant does not meet bacteriological limits for an extended period of time. That’s a scientific way of saying that there might be a situation where the reclaimed water isn’t clean enough to spray on the San Geronimo Valley Golf Course. The plan for this sewer plant is to have redundant systems and just one day of storage in the case something goes wrong.

Since the engineers responsible for this project have decided that long term storage of sewage effluent that doesn’t meet bacteriological limits is not possible, they are relying on their equipment. What happens if redundant systems go down? Earthquake, human error, fried electrics, burned our pumps, rats that like to chew on wires, a tear in a gasket or membrane? Who knows because in life we can’t account for every eventuality. It has happened before. Did you read the article about the sewage spill in Seattle on this website? Even large, fully staffed treatment facilities can experience malfunctions that can’t be fixed in one day. So what happens if that were to occur in the San Geronimo Valley. Engineers say that the solution would be to truck the sewage offsite for however long it takes to fix the problem. It’s a solution but it’s an expensive one. Members of the sanitary district will be directly responsible for these costs. And those aren’t the only costs they’ll be responsible for. Do you know who is on the hook if the state fines the sanitary district for a spill into the creek? You guessed it, members of the sanitary district. Just remember, the Ross Valley sanitary district had to pay $1.5 million for spills in 2010. Ouch.

The concerned residents of Woodacre who want to build a sewer plant on the Valley always say the same thing. They say that this system will be new and that if it does spill, the spills will be smaller than Ross Valley. Yes, but here’s the truth. The engineers who want to build this sewer plant have said that many sewer spills are the result of human error. Human error that doesn’t know the difference between new and old or big city and small town. And the system won’t always be new and the San Geronimo Creek is a lot smaller than the Ross Valley drainage. It won’t take much to ruin what we’ve got.