Sanitary district wants to develop island

Photo by Chris Campos

Dawn Morrow (left), president of the board of directors of Ironhouse Sanitary District, came to the Oakley City Council meeting Tuesday night with General Manager Chad Davisson (center) and Director Peter Zirkle.

OAKLEY – Jersey Island, owned by the Ironhouse Sanitary District, has long been a literal dumping ground for the sewage district. Next, it might be the next battleground over development growth.

The island is located between Oakley and Bethel Island on the San Joaquin River. Ironhouse currently grows fodder crops such as hay and alfalfa on the 3,520-acre island. The District purchased the island for $3 million in 1993. The District is permitted to apply biosolids on the farm fields. Biosolids are an organic, nutrient-rich soil amendment that are produced through the wastewater treatment process. For years, maintenance of the levees surrounding the island has cost the district about $1 million per year according to Chad Davisson, the district’s general manager. Now, the outside sale of biosolids has covered much of the levee maintenance but the district wants to turn its burden into a profitable asset.

Facing the increasing costs of climate change and rising sea levels, the island sits from 4 to 18 feet below sea level, the district teamed up with Montezuma Water Inc. to come up with a development plan. On Tuesday night, Davisson presented their proposal to the Oakley City Council.


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