Posted on Categories Forests, Land Use, Sustainable Living, WaterTags , , , , , , Leave a comment on Grape growers could alleviate Occidental’s wastewater issues

Grape growers could alleviate Occidental’s wastewater issues

Guy Kovner, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Occidental’s embattled wastewater treatment system needs a multimillion-dollar upgrade completed within three years, and nearby grape growers are likely part of the solution.
If that plan — expected to cost $5 million to $6 million and bump up rates for the sewer district’s roughly 100 customers — doesn’t work out, the small west county community’s wastewater might be trucked out of the area for treatment, officials said.
The proposed solution, including improvements to the existing treatment plant on Occidental Road and a pipeline carrying wastewater to a vineyard on Morelli Lane, will be reviewed at a public meeting at 6 p.m. Jan. 8 at the Union Hotel in Occidental.
Residents will have a chance to comment on the potential impacts of the project as part of the determination of whether it will require a full environmental impact report.
Because the proposed project would be on property already used by the system and on county roads, the county hopes to issue a “negative declaration” and avoid the time and expense of a full report, said Cordel Stillman, Sonoma County Water Agency chief deputy engineer.
Occidental’s system, one of eight operated by the Water Agency, faces a Jan. 31, 2018 state deadline to stop holding treated wastewater in a pond next to the treatment plant, used as a storage reservoir since 1977.
Read more via Grape growers could alleviate Occidental’s wastewater issues | The Press Democrat.

Posted on Categories Land Use, WaterTags , , , , , Leave a comment on Vineyard erosion rules effort restarts

Vineyard erosion rules effort restarts

Jeff Quackenbush, NORTH BAY BUSINESS JOURNAL

As state water-quality regulators prepare to try again this fall with a framework designed to control erosion into the Napa River and Sonoma Creek watersheds, winegrape growers in those areas are getting new tools to help prepare for the as-yet-undefined rules.

San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board staff plan to issue notice by the end of June about the preparation of draft environmental-impact documents connected to general wastewater discharge requirements (WDRs) for vineyard operations in those watersheds, according to Naomi Feger, chief of the regional board’s planning division.

“We will be looking at the regulations that exist in Napa and Sonoma (counties),” she said. “They will not be in conflict.”

The goal is to hold the first scoping meeting somewhere in Napa in mid-July then compile comments from that and those received during the crafting of a conditional waiver of WDRs for vineyards in the two watersheds, an effort that ended in March of last year amid opposition. The current timeline is to release a draft environmental document for the vineyard WDRs in late fall and convene the first public hearings in the first quarter of next year, Ms. Feger said.

via Vineyard erosion rules effort restarts – North Bay Business Journal – North San Francisco Bay Area, Sonoma, Marin, Napa counties – Archive.

Posted on Categories WaterTags , , Leave a comment on Occidental still seeking a sewer solution

Occidental still seeking a sewer solution

 Jamie Hansen, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
The latest in a series of efforts to clean up Occidental’s sewage discharge has stalled, ironically, over environmental concerns.
“It’s back to square one,” said Steve McNeal, a 13-year member of an informal ratepayers group seeking solutions to the small town’s wastewater problems.
Occidental, whose sewer system is run by the Sonoma County Water Agency, has been looking for a new way to dispose of its wastewater since 1997, when the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board ordered it to clean up its discharge to comply with water quality standards by 2008.
The water quality control board extended Occidental’s deadlines over the years, recognizing the financial challenges of updating such a small sewer system, but this February issued another order that authorities believe they must meet by 2018 or face huge fines.
Now, Occidental residents are seeking a fix with increased urgency, both because of the impending deadline and because residents and business owners are struggling to pay current rates. Sewage rates rose from $976 per household in 2005 to $1,682 in 2013, making them some of the highest in the state. And that’s with the Water Agency subsidizing rates to keep costs down for the roughly 100 customers in the tiny sewer district.
Read more via Occidental still seeking a sewer solution | The Press Democrat.