May 30, 2008

Willows, Calif., Unveils New Wastewater Plant

Plant turns sewage into water suitable for agriculture in 24 hours

The new sewer plant near Willows, Calif., was unveiled with a dedication ceremony and tours May 28, the Willows Journal reported. The $10.3-million facility takes in raw sewage, treats it to near drinking water quality and then pumps it into the Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District canal. This means that whenever residents flush a toilet, they save money, help the environment and help local agriculture.

“We’ve come a long way,” said Willows Public Works Director Greg Tyhurst at unveiling of the new facility. “It took five years from start to finish.”

The plant was last renovated in 1992, Tyhurst said. At that time, the facility treated wastewater through an aeration and sedimentation.

Now, sewage at the facility goes through several treatment and disinfection processes in order to meet the state’s strict Title 22 standards for tertiary recycled water.

Within 24 hours, the plant turns the sewage entering the plant into water that is clean enough for agricultural use and for use in the Sacramento Wildlife Refuge, Tyhurst said.

The facility, operated by SouthWest Water Company, was financed through grants and a low-interest loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

“The plant will meet the needs of the city of Willows into the year 2020,” Tyhurst said. “The current design allows for additional modules to be added on, expanding the plant to meet those needs as they arise.”

Greg Cash, an engineering geologist with CRWQCB, congratulated the city for meeting the tough state regulations.

“The city stepped up and met the requirements,” Cash said. “This facility is now a model for other cities.”

Cash said cities that failed to meet the state’s requirements now face high construction costs and large fines.

“People don’t like seeing their service rates go up,” Cash said. “People can see policemen and firemen, but they don’t think about sewage after they flush the toilet. It’s expensive to build a tertiary plant and some people just don’t want to pay for it.”