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Sewer debate: Go with flow or incentive for new growth?

A pipe and how much sewage can flow through it made for an often fluid conversation at the Nevada County Board of Supervisors’ meeting Tuesday.

Other times it clogged into a debate about the direction of the county’s population growth.

At issue is a long-range plan for Nevada and Placer counties to share a sewer line that would connect a wastewater treatment plant under construction in Placer County to Lake of the Pines in south Nevada County. Placer County initiated the plan in 1996, and Nevada County entered a joint powers agreement in 2001. Current plans call for design and construction of the pipeline to start in 2011.



The meeting was largely informational but changed course when Board Chairwoman Sue Horne asked that construction plans consider using a pipe large enough to accommodate Alta Sierra, in case such a need arises.

A larger pipe, she said, would provide a backup plan for Alta Sierra residents in case their septic systems fail.




“I would like to see that we get the best bang for our buck here,” she said.

Supervisor Peter Van Zant worried the project has gotten larger the more it has been discussed and that such a move would spur rapid growth. He called the need for a larger pipe a case of “build it, and it’ll be used.”

As for Alta Sierra’s septic systems, he said, “The failure rate isn’t that high to offset the cost of a pipeline.”

Al Schafer, president of the Alta Sierra Property Owners Association, said he knew of few homes with failing systems.

Later, Horne said Alta Sierra was only included in discussions because the need could arise but any discussion of including the community is premature.

The county’s current General Plan, she added, reflects the sewage flows being discussed for the pipeline.

The pipe in question would run from the Lake of the Pines treatment plant south to a plant in Auburn, from there sewage would head to Lincoln. It would serve roughly 4,300 households, 2,200 of them from Lake of the Pines .

Horne is vice chair of the Placer/Nevada Wastewater Authority, which is spearheading the project and gave the board an update Tuesday. She’s also a resident of Lake of the Pines, a gated community which she said needs the Lincoln sewage option because the LOP plant needs $7 million in upgrades to meet new state requirements. Residents already pay a $315 annual assessment for sewage services.

The group that oversees water issues in the county, the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board, supports the wastewater project, and federal money has already helped pay for it.

It is too early to say what the county’s cost would be, Horne said.


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