The small group of concerned residents in Woodacre who want to build a sewer plant in the San Geronimo Valley say that a sewer plant with a reclaimed water component is the best solution. That’s a matter of opinion. It’s certainly the best solution if you need government grants given to reclaimed water projects to help offset the high cost of building the sewer system. But is it really the best solution for the unique needs of the San Geronimo Valley? For those people who value the rural nature of our community and want to keep it that way, for those people who want to limit development, for those people who want to limit the visual blight that comes with storage ponds and their 12 foot high dirt walls, for those people who are not willing to take a risk on a sewer plant that will likely smell and spill, there is a better alternative.
An option on the table, but often disregarded by the small group of concerned residents in Woodacre who want to build a sewer plant in the Valley, is an alternative to build a central wastewater collection system for properties in the Woodacre Flats area (the area of original concern) that would be connected to a community leach field system located on nearby wooded open land. The area identified for a potential community leach field site is a wooded knoll along the Fire Road ridge line northeast of Woodacre on property which is part of the Dickson Ranch. This alternative, described by Questa Engineering as Option 3, would have a capacity to serve up to an estimated 176 existing residential connections in the Woodacre Flats service area. There would be no sewer plant, no odor, no storage ponds and no impact on the surrounding communities in the San Geronimo Valley who have not clamored for a sewer plant to be built in our shared community. Additional benefits of this plan are:
- Doesn’t require property owners to carry the cost burden of decommissioning their existing septic tanks
- Allows multiple properties to share cluster tanks
- No complex above ground industrial plant equipment
- No sludge drying in the open air
- Lower overall per property cost than any other option investigated including the option preferred by the small group of concerned residents in Woodacre
The small group of concerned residents in Woodacre who want to build a sewer plant in the Valley use the town of Marshall and their wastewater treatment solution as a model for what we need to do here in the Valley. It’s important to know that the town of Marshall, which wanted to limit the amount of pollution migrating into Tomales Bay, did not choose to build a sewer plant. They chose Option 3! That’s right, they chose a collection system that leads to a community leach field.
The community leach field option is a true Woodacre solution for a Woodacre problem. It solves the problem of failing septic systems in the Woodacre Flats at the lowest per property cost and has the least impact on other towns across the Valley floor and on the golf course which could certainly suffer from a drop in business due to odor and health conditions that would probably not appeal to most golfers. The properties that participate in the system can still create a sanitary district and receive low interest or zero interest loans to cover the cost of the leach field system over a period 20 years.