Guy Kovner, PRESS DEMOCRAT
A faulty valve caused the accidental release of about 2 million gallons of untreated wastewater into a slough in Sonoma Valley, a county water official said Saturday.
The valve on a pipeline in the Sonoma Valley County Sanitation District failed to fully close and was leaking wastewater for about 24 hours into Schell Slough, said Ann DuBay, a Sonoma Water spokeswoman. The flow was stopped at 10:45 a.m. Saturday, she said.
State and regional authorities were notified, and specialists sent to the spill site did not notice any dead or distressed fish or other species, DuBay said.
The valve is part of a system that collects wastewater from the equivalent of about 17,000 Sonoma Valley homes. The wastewater is treated at a plant on Eighth Street East, near the city of Sonoma.
Guy Kovner, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
The plan will be informally introduced at a town hall meeting held by west county Supervisor Lynda Hopkins in April or early May, officials said.
Guerneville is out and Graton is now in as a potential destination for Occidental’s wastewater.
What may sound like west county musical chairs is actually the latest chapter in a 20-year effort to find an alternative for Occidental’s wastewater treatment plant, which has been under state orders since 1997 to quit discharging treated effluent into Dutch Bill Creek, a Russian River tributary and coho salmon spawning stream.
A plan to send five to 15 truckloads of untreated wastewater a day up Bohemian Highway to Guerneville was scrapped in response to protests from Guerneville residents, and officials are now considering delivery to Graton, where the local community services district has issued what amounts to an invitation.
“We’re taking a look at what might be a better option,” said Ann DuBay of the Sonoma County Water Agency, which operates the Occidental and Guerneville treatment systems and six others in the county.
Engineers are working out the details of the Occidental-to-Graton transfer between two small, rural communities, with a recommendation expected to go to the Board of Supervisors in the fall, said Cordel Stillman, the Water Agency’s deputy chief engineer.
Read more at: Graton may be next stop for Occidental wastewater | The Press Democrat
Frank Robertson, SONOMA WEST TIMES & NEWS
Public comment on the project’s environmental document, called the Initial Study and Negative Declaration, will be accepted through this Friday, Feb. 24, said Sonoma County Water Agency spokeswoman Ann DuBay. After the deadline, water agency staffers will look at the comments and determine whether the environmental review has been adequate or needs more work. “It could take a few months” before the environmental review is complete, said DuBay.
A full house of concerned river residents admonished the Sonoma County Water Agency last week over plans to truck the town of Occidental’s sewage to Guerneville for treatment and disposal.Her neighborhood is “prepared to do anything necessary to stop this absurd idea,” said Guerneville resident Susan Packer, who owns vacation rental property adjacent to the transfer site.
With Occidental’s sewage set to be trucked daily to a pumping station on Riverside Drive, where ongoing problems include odors and recent collection system overflows during Russian River flooding, “you certainly can’t handle any increase,” in sewage coming into the pump station, said Packer.Neighbors organized as the West Guernewood Action Group agree the transfer project is “incompatible and ill-considered” and are talking to an attorney, Noreen Evans, to represent them in opposition to the project, said Packer.
The united crowd of more than 100 people packed into the Monte Rio Community Center last week had little good to say about the project that would help the town of Occidental meet a state-imposed deadline to bring its sewage disposal methods up to code and avoid fines that could hit $10,000 per day. Occidental’s compliance deadline is Jan 1., 2018, said Sonoma County Water Agency Deputy Chief Engineer Cordel Stillman.
“We know there are some issues” with trucking the town’s sewage to Guernewood Park, where it would then be piped under the Russian River to the Russian River Sanitation District’s sewage treatment plant on Neeley Road, said Stillman at last week’s public hearing hosted by the water agency. The trucking project was hammered out during talks in Occidental last year when Occidental residents rejected a water recycling plan there because of the prohibitive cost.
Trucking the sewage to Guerneville was seen as a stopgap measure that would give Occidental ”breathing room” until a more permanent solution is found, said Stillman.
The meeting in the Monte Rio Community Center was the first real public forum for river residents to weigh in on the transfer plan that was hatched last year as a way to solve Occidental’s inability to find an affordable sewage disposal plan so that the town’s wastewater does not pollute Dutch Bill Creek.
Read more at: River rats castigate county over Occidental sewage trucking | News | sonomawest.com
Sonoma County Water Agency, SONOMA COUNTY GAZETTE
Heavy rainfall from a large atmospheric river resulted in several wastewater overflows within the Sonoma Valley County Sanitation District (District). Nearly 2 inches of rain was measured during a 24-hour period ending Tuesday at 9 a.m. at the Sonoma Valley wastewater treatment plant. Other areas of the valley reported 3 inches of rain overnight.
Wastewater maintenance and work crews, including biologists, responded to nine separate sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs) starting at 2:30 a.m. Tuesday. Sanitation District staff are working to minimize the flows as much as possible, evaluate any impacts to public and environmental health, and will continue to monitor the collection systems. The State Office of Emergency Services and California Department of Fish & Wildlife were notified.
The majority of the SSOs occurred in the Boyes Hot Springs and Fetters Hot Springs areas, with two overflows in Eldridge. Several of the overflows resulted in wastewater flowing into Sonoma Creek. One reported SSO at the Sonoma Charter School and Flowery Elementary School campus was determined to be a private overflow resulting from a failure of the collection system on school district property. Total volume of the overflows will be calculated at the end of the storm event.
During heavy rain events the District’s wastewater collection system can become overloaded due to inflow and infiltration of rainwater and groundwater into sewer mains. The District is currently implementing a multi-year sewer main replacement project. Another contributing factor to SSOs, which is being addressed by the District, is leaky private sewer laterals and illegal connections of roof downspouts, yard drains, sump pumps and other non-sewer discharges into the sewer system that can greatly increase the amount of wastewater entering the system during storms. The SVSCD Board recently approved an ordinance that will require older laterals to be inspected and repaired, if necessary.
Read more at: Heavy Rains Cause Sonoma Valley Wastewater Overflows
Frank Robertson, SONOMA WEST TIMES
A county plan to truck Occidental’s sewage to Guerneville for treatment and disposal appears to be stopped up for now owing to neighborhood opposition and possible legal issues.
Guernewood Park neighbors near the site where sewage would be unloaded at a Russian River Sanitation District pump station met with new Fifth District Supervisor Lynda Hopkins last week to vent their concerns about neighborhood truck traffic, potential odors and other compatibility issues if the sewage plan goes forward.
A sympathetic Hopkins told neighbors there may also be a legal problem if proposed pump station improvements, including a new paved driveway under the redwoods at the site, constitute an expansion of the sewer system onto vacant residential property next door.
“I don’t see how we can say that’s not an expansion,” said Hopkins, regarding a proposed new turnaround that sewage trucks would need on the property next to the lift station located between Highway 116 and Riverside Dr.
Sonoma County acquired the neighboring property in the 1980s as part of a legal settlement with the owner; a condition of the sale included an agreement that the county would not expand sewage system operations onto the neighboring property, said Hopkins. The previous owner had a house on the property that was in the path of a prevailing breeze carrying the lift station’s smell. The county demolished the house.
The deed restriction only surfaced last week after neighbors began asking questions about the Occidental sewage transfer plan that seemed to have been formulated with numerous discussions among Occidental Sanitation District residents but little or no dialogue with Guerneville residents whose properties would be impacted by the sewage transfer process involving from five to 15 daily truck deliveries of raw sewage arriving at the Riverside Drive lift station.
A Sonoma County Water Agency environmental review of the plan last year concluded it would have “no significant impact” on the Riverside Drive environment, but neighbors last week said they were never told about the project and are prepared to challenge the environmental finding in court.
Read more at: Occidental sewage transfer may be stalled by legalities – Sonoma West Times and News: News
Frank Robertson, SONOMA WEST TIMES
Guernewood Park residents weren’t exactly crying ‘Oh, thank-you’ this week to a Christmas gift of raw sewage from their Occidental neighbors.
“Totally unacceptable,” said Susan Packer, a Guernewood Park vacation homeowner whose property is on Riverside Drive adjacent to where the County of Sonoma wants to deliver Occidental’s sewage.“
This is a residential neighborhood,” said Packer, writing on the Nextdoor Guernewood Park email site where alarmed neighbors are now talking about the plan, announced two days before Christmas, to truck Occidental’s sewage to Guerneville for treatment and disposal. “We should not be the repository of Occidental’s problems,” said Packer.
The Sonoma County Water Agency (SCWA) sent notices of the project to Guerneville neighbors two weeks ago describing the project and opening a public review window that closes in two more weeks, at 5 p.m. on Jan. 23. The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors is expected to give final approval after a public hearing scheduled for March 21.
Some Guernewood Park neighbors say that’s too fast and the rush to bring Occidental’s sewage to Guerneville seems a little hurried considering that Occidental residents have been arguing for more than 20 years about how to dispose of their sewage. One thing Occidental ratepayers agree on is that it’s too expensive to keep the sewage in Occidental when it can be trucked to Guerneville where the town treatment plant operates at about half capacity.
But the abrupt notification and brief public review window are problematic, said Guernewood Park resident Richard Skaff.
“Things have been happening with no public discussion,” said Skaff, who asked newly elected Fifth District supervisor Lynda Hopkins this week to hold a community meeting in Guerneville so that “local residents could hear about the plan and provide you with their thoughts and concerns,” said Skaff, in an email to Hopkins this week.
The Occidental Sanitation District would transport about 15,000 gallons of raw sewage per day to a Russian River Sanitation District lift station sandwiched between Highway 116 and Riverside Drive in Guernewood Park. From there the sewage would be mixed with Guerneville’s sewage and pumped to the River District treatment plant on Neeley Road in Vacation Beach.
The Guerneville Transport Compliance Project would enable Occidental to stop draining its treated wastewater into Dutch Bill Creek in the winter.
Sonoma County Water Agency spokeswoman Ann DuBay said anyone with questions about the Occidental project should call her for information and guidance on the environmental issues and approval process. Her number is 524-8578.The public review period ends Jan. 23 at 5 p.m. Comments should be submitted to Jeff Church, 404 Aviation Blvd, Santa Rosa, CA 95403 or to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: Guerneville: ‘no thanks’ to Occidental sewage – Sonoma West Times and News: News
Guy Kovner, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
The Occidental district has been under water board orders since 1997 to quit storing treated wastewater in a pond next to the treatment plant and discharging it into Dutch Bill Creek, a coho salmon spawning stream.
Twenty years of headaches over handling wastewater from the tiny west county community of Occidental appear to be nearing an end with a relatively inexpensive, although admittedly inelegant solution: Truck it down the road for treatment in Guerneville.
After scrapping plans to upgrade the Occidental treatment plant and pipe the effluent to a storage pond on a nearby vineyard at a price tag of up to $6 million, county officials settled instead on a $1.4 million project that depends on existing facilities and a pair of 5,000-gallon water trucks.
“It’s the most economical solution we could find,” said Cordel Stillman, Sonoma County Water Agency deputy chief engineer.
Cost has always been a factor, since the Occidental sanitation district, which serves about 118 parcels clustered along Bohemian Highway, already has the highest rate in the county — and among the highest in the state — at $2,086 a year per equivalent single-family dwelling.
A subsidy of about $400,000 a year from the water agency’s general fund has offset rate hikes, and the bargain-priced project won’t cause any increases, Stillman said.
Under the new plan, the trucks would haul Occidental’s wastewater, which averages 17,000 gallons a day in dry weather and up to 100,000 gallons during rainstorms, from the lift station on the Occidental Camp Meeker Road about nine miles to the Guerneville treatment plant, also operated by the water agency.
As a backup plan, when wastewater volume is high or roads are closed, Occidental’s wastewater would be trucked — in the opposite direction — to another one of the water agency’s eight treatment plants located next to the Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport.
Both the Guerneville and airport plants provide tertiary treatment of wastewater, the highest level of sewage processing.
Read more at: Occidental eyes inexpensive wastewater treatment plan | The Press Democrat
Clark Mason, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Healdsburg is moving toward expanding the use of its recycled wastewater as more grape growers express interest in its use for vineyard irrigation.
The City Council has taken an initial step of expanding the area where Healdsburg delivers reclaimed water, requiring a new two-mile pipeline from the wastewater treatment plant to serve approximately 600 acres between Westside Road and the Russian River to the south.
Some vineyard managers there are eager to get access to the water, and Healdsburg — which has been under pressure for years to reduce discharges of that water into the Russian River during summer months — is ready to oblige, to the point of footing the approximate $500,000 construction cost of the pipeline.
“We’re under a mandate to not release water — tertiary, highly treated water — into the Russian River five months of the year,” Mayor Tom Chambers said Friday. “We need to come up with various ways to achieve that and one way is to provide water for irrigation to vineyards interested in doing so.”
Read more at: Healdsburg may expand water reuse program | The Press Democrat
Santa Rosa is putting the finishing touches on a $200,000 wall surrounding vital sections of the Laguna wastewater treatment plant in an effort to prevent El Niño-fueled flood waters from inundating the low-lying facility.
Workers this week maneuvered into place the final few 4,000-pound concrete blocks that will make up most of a 950-foot-long wall designed to keep the waters of the Laguna de Santa Rosa at bay in the event of serious storms.
“It’s a little bit like Legos,” explained Mike Prinz, director of operations at the Llano Road plant, describing the construction process.
The location of the city’s wastewater treatment plant alongside the Laguna leaves it vulnerable to flooding. In the winter of 2005 and 2006, for example, floodwaters entered the plant and swept away an estimated 50,000 gallons of partially treated wastewater. For that and other violations, the city was fined $194,500 by the North Coast Water Quality Control Board.
So plant officials have been thinking for a few years about building a permanent flood protection wall to keep the plant safe from 100-year or even 500-year floods, Prinz said. But that project is still being studied and has yet to be funded.
Read more at: Flood wall built to protect Santa Rosa treatment plant
Derek Moore, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Sonoma County officials fanned out in the Canon Manor neighborhood east of Rohnert Park this week warning dozens of residents that water drawn from private wells may be contaminated with E. coli and fecal coliform bacteria.
Two wells outside homes in the neighborhood near Sonoma State University already have tested positive for what county officials called “extremely high” levels of the two strains of bacteria. The county ordered the property owners to discontinue using the wells, which are in the 1700 block of Lynn Drive. The owners have subsequently hooked up to a system operated by the Penngrove/Kenwood Water Co.
County health officials stressed that there have been no reports of anyone being sickened from drinking or using water from contaminated wells in Canon Manor. Symptoms of E. coli infection include abdominal distress and headaches. It’s unknown whether the contamination also includes potentially deadly strains of the bacteria as the county’s lab tests are not that specific, according to Karen Holbrook, the county’s deputy health officer.
“We’re acting out of an abundance of caution,” she said.
The county first received a complaint about sewage odors emanating from a well Dec. 18 from a property owner on Lynn Drive. Tests of wells on two adjacent properties revealed the presence of more than 2,419 colonies of E. coli and fecal coliform in a 100-milliliter sampling of water. There are no safe levels for either bacteria.
Read more at: E. coli contamination in wells near Rohnert Park | The Press Democrat