Mar 10, 2015 7:45 PM by Charlene Cheng
For Cottonwood residents to continue relying on steady sewer services, a major overhaul needs to be made to the local wastewater treatment plant.
That's the message that the Shasta County Department of Public Works delivered to the Board of Supervisors.
"If we don't make these improvements, we'll have failures, which will be bad for the environment, or we won't comply, which will result in fines, which would be bad," Deputy Director Troy Bartolomei said.
To pay for the $6.4 million project, county officials are asking the state for a grant and a loan.
But in order to qualify, rate payers are being asked to pay about $20 a month more for the sewer services.
"So what that means for us is that over the next five years, we're going to tier in a rate increase. Right now our rates are quite low, in fact they're some of the lowest in the North State," Bartolomei said.
Officials stress that these upgrades on the 30-year-old facility are an absolute necessity.
The outdated technology has been resulting in hefty fines for the county.
"Through the last permit process they tightened our PH restrictions, and we had difficulty meeting them at times. Every time you have a violation, the state imposes what it calls a mandatory minimum penalty, which is $3000. That totaled $81,000 for us," Bartolomei said.
The county has entered into a settlement agreement with the Water Quality Control Board.
All fines and violations will be absorbed into repair costs.
"They work with us. Their ultimate goal is to have better compliance, to help improve the environment," Bartolomei said.