Wastewater plant problems to be addressed | TheUnion.com

Wastewater plant problems to be addressed

Matthew Renda
Staff Writer

Nevada County moved a step closer to addressing persistent wastewater infrastructure issues by leveraging a $1.3 million federal grant to administer improvements to the Penn Valley Wastewater Treatment System.

The funds will be used in conjunction with a loan from the California Water Resources Control Board to install a 4.5-mile pipe that connects Penn Valley area houses to the Lake Wildwood Wastewater Treatment Facility, according to the weekly memo distributed by County Executive Officer Rick Haffey.

"This project is highly important to the Penn Valley community," Haffey writes.

Penn Valley's current wastewater treatment facility has multiple deficiencies, including an inadequate holding pond and surface discharge area that has resulted in cease- and-desist orders from the Water Quality Control Board.

The ongoing wastewater issues in Penn Valley prompted the board of supervisors to prioritize an improvement project during the Community Development Block Grant application process earlier this year.

"The Health & Human Services Agency partnered with the Community Development Agency and made extraordinary efforts to develop a competitive application, including conducting door to door surveys to meet grant eligibility criteria," the memo states.

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"This grant award acknowledges that critical community needs can be met through united efforts of policymakers, stakeholders and staff."

The entire project is estimated to cost $5 million, according to Nevada County Public Works Director Steve Castleberry.

Nevada County has been plagued by issues surrounding its wastewater treatment facilities in recent years, as poor planning led to the construction of several isolated wastewater treatment facilities that serve small populations.

As a result, when state of federal government officials mandate improvements to a deficient plant, homeowners must bear the financial burden.

The paradigm for the problem is Cascade Shores, a small residential community with 86 units connected to one regional plant.

When a landslide destroyed the previous wastewater treatment plant, neighborhood members were forced to pay high costs to replace it.

The current annual sewer rate for a homeowner in that neighborhood is about $2,500, one of the highest rates in California.

To contact Staff Writer Matthew Renda, email mrenda@theunion.com or 530-477-4239.

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