Let’s Talk Wastewater!

“Let’s all go hang out at the Sewer Plant!”

OK, I know that sentence is not going to generate a ton of excitement, but I do want to invite all of the citizens of Holtville out to the newly rebuilt Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) for a dedication ceremony on Friday, November 17, 2017, at 1:30 pm to see the culmination of many years of work to bring a new technologically advanced plant to the City of Holtville (or, in this case, the outskirts of Holtville.)

The $15 million project to rehab the City’s Wastewater Treatment Plant, financed by the State Clean Water Revolving Fund along with the Border Environment Cooperation Commission (BECC) and the North American Development Bank (which administers funding from the EPA), was designed by Lee & Ro Engineers and constructed by Pacific Hydrotech, with oversight by HDR Engineering.

The need for a new WWTP goes back many years. The process used by the old plant, constructed in the 1940’s or 1950’s and refurbished multiple times since, became incapable of treating the City’s Wastewater to acceptable levels under State oversight. In the early 2000’s, increased regulation on the discharge requirements for the effluent – specifically for the level of ammonia in the discharge – led to repeated violations and accumulation of fines for the City’s Sewer Enterprise. Discussion began at that time about the necessity for rehabilitation of the WWTP. By 2005, a Preliminary Engineering Report had been prepared exploring options for a rehab project.

Through the decade plus since, the project went through studies, selection of the process to be used, design and jumping through hoops to obtain funding. As the design process neared completion, t h e cost estimate to construct the plant increased substantially. At two separate points, the EPA and NADBank committed to funding the additional costs of the project. By the time construction began, the cost of the project more than doubled. In the end, the City laid out less than $150,000 and committed to about $3.8 million in low interest loans to fund the project.

The plant is now fully constructed and working as well or better than was expected. The City’s effluent limitation for ammonia is 1.9 PPM, and the levels as high as 20 PPM led to our repeated violations. Samples taken the following day were sent to an independent laboratory, demonstrating .52 PPM.

In answer to a few common questions: Does it stink? Surprisingly, no it does not! Where is the WWTP? It’s all the way at the end of Kamm Road, west of Highway 115, northwest of the City. With that said, we invite all citizens of Holtville to attend the dedication ceremony at the plant next week! For anyone interested, there will be tours and an explanation of the process. We hope to see you there – let’s all go hang out at the Sewer Plant!

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