Water board gives up on Bargar plant

A clarifier sits idle at the 37-year-old Bargar water treatment plant. The plant has not been operational since 2007. Sentinel photos/Karen Brainard
A clarifier sits idle at the 37-year-old Bargar water treatment plant. The plant has not been operational since 2007. Sentinel photos/Karen Brainard

By Karen Brainard

After about four years of working with third party firms and spending approximately $380,000, Ramona Municipal Water District directors have agreed to no longer pursue a plan to bring the out-of-service Bargar water treatment plant into operation for use as a water source in emergencies.

The Bargar plant was closed in 2007 when it could not meet new requirements and the board at that time determined it would cost too much to bring the plant to required standards. Because water to the Bargar plant would be gravity-fed from Lake Sutherland, which the city of San Diego owns, RMWD board members saw Bargar as a possible source for treated water in times of emergencies. The district’s water is pumped up 1,000 feet from the Poway pump station, which relies on power from SDG&E.

RMWD Assistant Manager David Barnum brought the item before the board at its Sept. 27 meeting with estimates from Southwest Water, the firm that the district has been working with. Those estmates showed that if Bargar was operational, the cost of treated water would be about three times the amount charged by the San Diego County Water Authority.

Additionally Lake Sutherland only has water seven out of 10 years, the proposed plant would only be able to supply half of the current demand for treated water and, depending on the severity and nature of the emergency, water might still not be available.

Director Darrell Beck said he was disappointed that the district would not be able to have the gravity-fed water and in Southwest Water, which “led us to believe they could do this at a reasonable price. This doesn’t solve the problem...we need to think about our supplying the community with water in the future, because we’ve had several of these close calls and I think we need to start thinking about the next one.”

Although board members discussed tearing down the plant, which is on district-owned property, General Manager Ralph McIntosh said the site is still used as a lab for testing water.

   
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