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EDH sewer plant permit in doubt

By March 6, 2012

The El Dorado Hills Wastewater Treatment Plant’s permit is in limbo after a tie vote failed to advance the permit renewal process.

A request to approve a $56,000 consulting contract to aid the permit renewal process got a no vote from El Dorado Hills-based Director Alan Day Feb. 27.

“I have a real problem voting for something when the director from that area won’t,” said Director John Fraser. “It gives me heartburn.”

Fraser provided the other no vote to leave a 2-2 tie, with Directors George Osborne and Bill George voting in favor. Director George Wheeldon was absent.

Day asked Fraser why he voted no with him and then said, “Not just continuing to spend … sometimes it’s broken and we can’t fix it.”

“If you think this is a big impact on ratepayers, but if we don’t act it’s going to cost us way more. We’ve had to provide safe water not just kick the can down the road,” said George.

George then responded to Day’s comparison of the El Dorado Irrigation District spending to a household budget by saying not renewing the sewer plant’s permit “is like not making a car payment. They’ll come and take your car away.”

The board then voted 4-0 to approve all capital spending items except the $56,000 for the five-year renewal of sewer plant’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit.

The NPDES permit is issued on behalf of the EPA by the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board. The renewal process requires the district to submit a Report of Waste Discharge and then work with the regional board’s staff to develop a draft permit, tentative permit and then final permit.

“Permit renewals are critical to the district,” according to the staff report on that capital improvement project. Staff time and expert professional services of Robertson-Bryan Inc. are necessary so the district can negotiate a waste discharge permit that is in compliance with the law, but does not go above and beyond what the law and state water board policy requires.”

District wastewater treatment engineer Elizabeth Wells told the board , “The permit has additional requirements we would like to negotiate out of the permit.”

“The aluminum issue is important,” said District Counsel Tom Cumpston. ‘The California Sport Fishing Alliance claimed the regional board erred in not applying it to Deer Creek (into which the Deer Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant discharges). Having a strong administrative record is important to the legal case.”

Wells added that the aluminum measurement in the creek is a”higher level than what is coming into the plant.”

March 1 it was announced that the regional board won a lawsuit that CalSPA had brought against it primarily on this issue.

The other capital expenditures approved added up to $528,325. All but two were projects required as part of the district’s hydroelectric system permit from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The remaining two were $50,000 to study converting from chlorine gas to sodium hypochlorite at Reservoir A Water Treatment Plant and $373,000 to move a water line and lift station because of road improvements planned at Patterson Drive and Pleasant Valley Road.

Michael Raffety


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