Nipomo wastewater treatment facility nears capacity



The Nipomo Community Services District recently learned that it must find $11.2 million to pay for the first phase of an upgrade and expansion to its wastewater facility, said Mike Winn, Nipomo Community Services District Board director.

The district board received estimates on the cost of a new treatment plant from Boyle Engineering, which provides assistance for planning resource services. Boyle's estimates were based on its finding that Nipomo's wastewater treatment plant was at 90 percent capacity. Because of growth in Nipomo, waste will soon be entering the facility at a faster rate than it can be processed and placed in ponds to percolate back into the groundwater, Winn said.

"We were a bit surprised," Winn said, though he noted that the district has known the plant would need to be replaced at some point. "Most of us thought we were at 70 percent. So we have to act faster than we had imagined."

The wastewater treatment facility will also need to upgrade its system to meet an expected change in standards set by the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board, Winn said.

He added that the total price is more than expected, but conceded that such developments always cost more than one might imagine. In addition to the first phase's price tag, the second phase, scheduled for two years later, is expected to cost $4.2 million and take seven years, Winn said.

According to Winn, the money will come from a variety of sources: district reserves, a bond the district plans to form and serve, and new and future district customers. He said that the district has yet to determine how much will be paid for by regular customers and how much will be financed by new growth.

Before they can break ground on the new plant, the district has to review the plant's performance capacity, develop a design center, evaluate treatment alternatives for the future, and develop a financing plan.

When Boyle issues its final report, probably in June, it will be available online and at the district office, said Winn, and the public will have a chance to comment.


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