Taking wastewater treatment into our own hands

51gg9qglypl_sl160_pisitb-sticker-arrow-dptopright12-18_sh30_ou01_aa115_4The latest twist to the Cascade Shores wastewater treatment debacle should be the final straw in persuading us to build a regional wastewater treatment plant.

The state’s financial crisis has frozen a loan needed to build the long damaged plan — ironic since the state pushed for the construction in the first place.

Enough is enough. We need to build a regional wastewater plant here to avoid a rerun of this scenario throughout the county.

Land for the plant is cheaper than ever, building a plant would create needed jobs, and infrastructure is fashionable again under the Obama administration.

The situation in our county will only get worse. Sewer rates in some communities around here already are among the highest in Northern California, largely to help pay to cost of sewage treatment plant upgrades.

We’ve seen some sharp increases in Lake of the Pines and Penn Valley, as well as Cascade Shores.

In addition, pending rules to tighten septic tank regulations (AB 885) will be costly for our residents — some of whom never fully imagined the liability of a septic tank in their yard when they moved here from the “flatlands.”

Though boring and not exactly “cocktail banter” within the gated confines of some neighborhoods (or just plain homes), this is the major issue facing our county.

Despite earnest efforts, we’re not getting very far with state and fed officials to get off their bureaucratic bottoms and help out.

The “no growth” contingent will no doubt come out in force to fight a regional wastewater treatment plant. But building one is more about sustaining our lifestyle — not clearing the way for a spate of growth.

We still don’t have enough jobs to support much growth around here, and retirees with diminished nest eggs are scouting out less expensive places to retire. Let’s not fool ourselves: We’ll be lucky to keep what we’ve got.

We already can’t find enough people to care for our growing elderly population — just check out the local classified ads. One ad after another for home-care givers but not much else.

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website SierraCulture.com. Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for 12 years, and he was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News for eight years, among other positions. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing, swimming, and trout fishing in the Sierra.

One thought on “Taking wastewater treatment into our own hands”

  1. Jeff,

    Wastewater treatment will likely be a big issue for a very long time. It is one way that growth is stopped/slowed.

    The state water board is proposing new regulations for the periodic testing of septic systems and wells. I understand there is no easy way for the State Water Board to create a data base of existing septic systems. If we report to them about our septic systems we will create their data base for them. The EPA wants to tax cows because they produce methane, a greenhouse gas. Septic systems create methane. What will stop the EPA from taxing septic systems at a later date using that data base?

    The same would be true for private wells.

    The new regulations would include testing private wells. One might assume since the testing on septic systems and wells come together they want to make sure septic systems aren’t fowling wells? Why then do they want a panel of 14 tests most of which for things not produced by septic systems? Nice trick to get property owners to also pay for a well data base and a state wide ground water survey.

    The periodic testing/pumping of septic tanks will cost > $700 and the well tests will also cost > $700. I often wondered when, not if, controls would be put on private wells?

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