Fast Facts

Don’t have time to read through all the great information contained on this website? Still interested in learning more about plans for a sewer plant in the San Geronimo Valley? Here are some fast facts to give you a good understand of what’s going on and why. If you decide that you want to dive deeper, there are many good articles with detailed facts and analysis about the sewer plant.

The basics

  • A small group of Woodacre residents have been trying to find a solution to failing septic systems in their town for almost a decade.
  • The group that wants to build the sewer plant is the Woodacre and San Geronimo Flats Wastewater Group.
  • Failing systems can result in human waste leaching into waterways.
  • Instead of fixing failing systems and solving the problem, some residents have been searching for less expensive alternatives.
  • That search has lead a small group of Woodacre residents to convince the County of Marin to invest in a costly study for a sewer system and sewer plant.
  • A sewer plant with a recycled/reclaimed water component was selected because it has the best chance of receiving grant money from the state and offsetting the cost of the project for residents that decide to connect to the system.
  • Reclaimed water contains human waste, coliform bacteria and viruses and it would be used to irrigate the San Geronimo Valley Golf Course.
  • It is not mandatory to connect to the proposed sewer system and the biggest offenders could still be polluting our waterways.
  • The sewer system would include a sewer plant located near the corner of San Geronimo Valley Drive and Meadow Way.
  • The sewer system would require two large storage ponds be built on the golf course with 12 foot high dirt walls and fencing.
  • Questa Engineering was hired by the county to conduct a “feasibility study” that some have called “flawed and one-sided from the start.”
  • An Environmental Impact Report will be conducted throughout the summer of 2017, paving the way for construction of a sewer plant.

The straight poop

  • No one really knows how many septic systems in Woodacre are failing since only a small portion have been tested.
  • Few, if any, residents know the cost of fixing their failing systems since very few have been assessed by a professional contractor.
  • It could be possible that a few failing systems are causing a high percentage of pollution in our waterways.
  • The “project area” continues to be increased in size in order to get more buy in for an expensive project and bring the per property price down.
  • No democratic process or vote has been conducted in the San Geronimo Valley to determine if the larger community wants a sewer plant.
  • Better solutions provide a “Woodacre solution to a Woodacre problem” including advanced septic technology for individual properties or a Woodacre leach field.
  • A sewer plant with the negative environmental impacts noted by Questa Engineering in their feasibility study could bankrupt residents who live close to the plant.
  • No one knows what the per property cost will be. It depends on many factors including the cost to build the system, the number of properties that connect to the system, cost overruns, and whether or not grant money is awarded. The true cost will not be known until the project has been approved and it’s too late. ‘Guesstimates” range from $40,000 to $80,000 per property. A bond would be sold to finance that cost and properties would see an annual repayment added to their property tax bill.

The science

  • The Woodacre and San Geronimo Flats Wastewater Group plan to place the sewer plant exactly 100 feet from San Geronimo Creek (the same creek they are saying they want to protect).
  • Several parts of the sewer plant will cause an odor problem including the filtration unit which is partially vented directly into the atmosphere.
  • Odor producing human waste will be removed from the filter and dried, bagged and stored onsite.
  • The sewer plant will produce reclaimed water that will be pumped into two large storage ponds on the golf course.
  • Based on Questa Engineering projections about how many gallons of waste will be processed each day, approximately 330 pounds of human waste could be pumped into the ponds each month and then sprayed onto the golf course.
  • Reclaimed water used for irrigation can not be sprayed near drinking fountains or outdoor eating areas.
  • Reclaimed water used for irrigation can not be sprayed when wind speeds reach 30 miles per hour.
  • Sewer systems have a high probability of spilling. Between 2011 and 2013 there were 96 reported Category 1 spills in Marin County. (A category 1 is a spill of any volume that reaches surface water and is considered to be the most serious spill category).
  • Between 2011 and 2013, 688,548 gallons of wastewater spilled into Marin County neighborhoods, streams and the Bay.
  • California’s rules around reclaimed water use (Title 22) require multiple setbacks that this system will have trouble meeting.
  • If the sewer plant can’t meet bacteriological limits set by the state, members of this  sanitary district will be responsible for the cost of trucking waste offsite.
  • If the sewer plant spills there’s a good change the sanitary district will be fined and that cost will be passed on to the members. Ouch.