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Chico human waste production breaks records post-Camp Fire

Action News Now broke this story and asked Camp Fire leaders if the post-Camp Fire population boom is putting pressure on the sewer system.

Posted: Oct 14, 2019 7:29 PM
Updated: Oct 14, 2019 10:30 PM

CHICO, Calif. - City wastewater treatment workers tell Action News Now they are seeing record-breaking numbers in human waste production.

In December Action News Now reporter Stephanie Lin discovered Chico's wastewater facility processing an extra million more gallons per day on average. That's a 16% increase in human waste production. On Monday, Action News Now learned that percentage has gone down to 10%, or roughly 600,000 gallons extra per day. 

"We anticipate that to be the commonality for many years to come," said City Manager Mark Orme. 

"It is definitely more of a stress on staff to cover everything that's needed at this time," said James Carr, Wastewater Treatment Plant Manager. 

One of the components that will need to be added is an additional secondary clarifier, which would cost the city roughly $14 milion dollars 

"Chico continues to be the support that Paradise, Magalia and Concow need. We are pleased to be that, but we are looking for an opportunity to mitigate the cost," explained Orme. 

The city of Chico saw a 20% population surge shortly after the Camp Fire. There have been no rate increases to make up for the additional strain on waste management staff, water treatment chemicals and day-to-day operational costs of keeping the facility running. 

Should waste production continue at these elevated levels, a sewer rate increase may be introduced. City manager Mark Orme says any increase would first be open for public discussion before implementation. Right now Chico pays extremely low sewer connection rates, he says, at roughly $23 per month. 

Orme also says that roughly $200,000 in relief support has already been allocated to help relieve the cost of wastewater management, but more funding is needed. His team continues to work with Cal OES and FEMA for monetary support, although he acknowledges much of the priority remains on rebuilding Paradise. 

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 786168

Reported Deaths: 15016
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles2607976353
Riverside566811153
San Bernardino52471908
Orange520631128
San Diego44577760
Kern31379354
Fresno27668355
Sacramento21297375
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Santa Clara20410296
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Stanislaus16319335
Contra Costa15837199
Tulare15599256
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Imperial11558314
San Francisco1074599
San Mateo9522143
Monterey946767
Santa Barbara8862110
Merced8750134
Kings728377
Sonoma7060114
Marin6557112
Solano608555
Madera429658
Placer346641
San Luis Obispo336927
Butte274835
Yolo274754
Santa Cruz22188
Sutter164210
Napa161413
San Benito130111
Yuba11187
El Dorado10684
Mendocino84918
Lassen7310
Shasta68714
Glenn5503
Colusa5096
Nevada5066
Tehama4984
Humboldt4826
Lake46510
Calaveras31114
Amador28616
Tuolumne2214
Inyo18714
Mono1652
Siskiyou1610
Del Norte1361
Mariposa752
Plumas490
Modoc240
Trinity150
Sierra60
Alpine20
Unassigned00
Chico
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Oroville
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Paradise
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Air quality has worsened for most of northern California as a lot of smoke from our area fires as settled over the valleys and foothills. We can expect more hazy, smoky sunshine on Tuesday with light to moderate breezes as autumn begins.
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