RMWD considers sewer plant improvements

With future growth potentially affecting the Santa Maria Sewer Service Area (SMSSA), members of the Ramona Municipal Water District (RMWD) listened to a March 10 presentation on possible improvements to the sewer plant.

“In 2005, there were roughly 4,087 equipment dwelling units (EDUs) using the system,” said District Engineer Tim Stanton. “With possible new areas being established, specific plans must be made in terms of expanding the plant to provide for additional needs.”

Stanton was joined by David Barnum, chief financial officer for RMWD during the presentation, which was designed to prepare the board for upcoming decisions regarding improvements to the plant.

The Santa Maria Sewer District was formed by the county in 1946 with a limit established on how many total dissolved solids (TDS), sulfate and chlorine disinfection it could handle in terms of the size of the area.

These limits have consistently increased over the years. Activities associated with the plant, in addition to a continued increase in monthly average effluent, have led to the need to expand the plant.

“There are quite a few decisions that need to be made relative to the project,” said Stanton.

Included in these are a design for the plant, certification, construction and financing options. Of these four items, the design dictates the construction and financing.

“The design moves you forward with the project,” Stanton said. “You cannot go any further without a design.”

A limiting factor in the design for potential improvements is the existing sprayfields in the area.

“In terms of wet weather storage after 2005, we had 262 acre-feet (AF) of storage available,” Stanton told the board. “Based upon the amount of flow, we determined a need for 433 AF.”

The district anticipated needing more land for sprayfields. As a result, an additional 285 acres were purchased last year. To increase the plant, the sprayfields will determine the size and design.

Stanton and staff worked up projected EDUs for the area.

“We calculate assumptions,” said Stanton.

The first assumption is that no one who is currently on septic within the sewer district will go on the sewer in the future. A second assumption is anyone who is on 2 acres or more, outside the sewer district, will also be on septic. These assumptions could help reduce the number of EDUs, versus what the county’s projections indicate.

According to the county’s 2020 Plan, a projected increase of 7,941 additional EDUs will eventually be located in the area, according to district staff.

“Based on our calculations and modifications, we have projected a 3,031 EDU increase,” Stanton said. “A typical projected 30-day demand on the plant will equal 1.84 million gallons per day (MGD).”

With this figure in mind, it became clear that the district needed to move forward with some form of management of effluent and in-flow at the facility, he said.

Since 2006, a total of $2,567,000 has been committed on the project. Stanton explained to the Board that the goal is to establish a plant based on the capability of producing 1.5 MGD, designed and built with the least cost alternative, and utilizing a three-phase development strategy.

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