The new annual tax to the Ironhouse Sanitary District (ISD) is $412 per year, representing a 14-percent increase over the previous $360 per home. It went into effect July 1. The new plant is expected to be in operation by 2010, according to ISD General Manager Tom Williams.
"Whether growth continues or not, we still need a new plant," said Williams. "This plant is 23 years old. We can't just upgrade. We need a more modern and much larger facility. It's a well thought out increase and a fair one."
He added that a public hearing was held to discuss the increase. "We didn't meet any resistance," he said.
A little more than half of the cost of the new facility will be financed through user fees. The remainder will come from fees on new development.
Four disposal options for the discharge from the new plant are being explored.
One option would send discharge into the San Joaquin River. Another would send raw sewage to the Delta Diablo Sanitation District for treatment and disposal. A third option would send treated effluent to New York Slough. And the fourth option would dispose of treated effluent in the Sacramento River.
Williams said that the environmental report took much longer than originally planned because so many things needed to be investigated. The project's construction costs had to be carefully analyzed, as did ways of reducing impacts on the environment.
The first phase of the new treatment plant will nearly double the capacity to 4.3 million gallons from the current 2.3 million gallons of effluent flow daily. The next phase will increase the capacity to 8.6 million gallons. No date has been set for completion of the second phase.
"One of the ways we will keep the cost down is by designing the plant in-house," Williams said. ISD Engineer Jenny Skrel will design the plant, which he said is her specialty.
Williams said that ISD also brings in about $100,000 annually by growing hay on Jersey Island, which it sells to local farmers, ranchers and commercial feed stores.
A hearing scheduled for Dec. 5 at the district office will elicit public comments on the sewage plant
The environmental report is available on the district's Web site, ironhousesanitarydistrict.com. A limited number of copies may be purchased at the district office, 450 Walnut Meadows Drive in Oakley. Copies for viewing are also available at Oakley city offices, local libraries and chambers of commerce.