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Goal: Save water, cut costs

Manteca pursuing sweeping green strategy

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Goal: Save water, cut costs

The South San Joaquin Irrigation District already reduces energy costs at the water treatment plant using solar power.

Bulletin file photo/


POSTED April 5, 2014 1:31 a.m.

It’s a major undertaking: Make Manteca’s official color green.

The City Council has adopted a sweeping enhancement of conservation and green technology programs as a top municipal goal.

The strategy includes:

• Developing wind and solar energy generation on city property.

• Pursuing a cogeneration plant to produce electricity using methane gas at the wastewater treatment plant.

• Using reclaimed water from the wastewater treatment plant for landscape maintenance.

• Using 417 acres the city bought on Hays Road south of Manteca as a countywide land bank for prime farmland conversion.

• Evaluating stricter water conservation measures throughout the city.

• Re-evaluating landscaping standards in a bid to reduce water use.

• Implementing a paperless agenda system using tablets or laptops for council members and department heads that the public can also utilize using their own devices.

And as with all previous municipal green initiatives, the bottom line also involves reduced operating costs.

The three most ambitious among the goals is solar power, the land bank and reclaiming treated waste water instead of returning all of it to the San Joaquin River.

 

Solar power farm

City staff is already working on a plan to possibly install a sea of solar panels doubling as shade structures for vehicles at the Big League Dreams parking lot to help reduce Manteca’s $1.1 million annual electrical bill for the municipal wastewater treatment plant.

The city is spending $135,000 on consulting services for a design and to help secure possible federal and state grants to construct a solar panel farm that could cover up to 20 acres and cost $3.9 million to install. The consultant is exploring how the city could use carbon tax credits to their advantage by financing the project in the private sector.

The cost recovery of the investment is expected to take six to seven years. That means the city could save up to $9 million in 15 years after recouping its original investment.

 

Reclaiming waste water

Manteca’s state-of-the-art municipal wastewater treatment plant releases 7 million gallons of high quality water back into the San Joaquin River each day. It is significantly cleaner than the water it blends with at an outlet a stone’s throw from the Oakwood Shores neighborhood.

Manteca’s treatment plant processes enough water to support 90,000 people. After users pay nearly $2 million a year to treat it — including $1.1 million in power costs — it is simply given away free to downstream users.

The city has already gotten the initial clearance from the state to use treated water for landscaping. The initial target was to irrigate the Big league Dreams sports complex and landscaping at the nearby Stadium Retail Center. While purple pipe is already in the ground the city has had the project on hold.

The city is currently requiring several new projects including the 1,673-home Trails of Manteca southwest of Woodward and McKinley avenues to install purple pipe to deliver treated waste water to landscape areas and parks. It is for when the city actually starts using reclaimed water for that purpose.

Not only would such a strategy conserve water but it would reduce the use of expensive treated water to irrigate landscaping.

 

Land bank

The purchase three years ago of farmland at 23000 South Hays Road near the San Joaquin River roughly over a mile west of the T-intersection of Airport Way and West Ripon Road was paid for by using sewer connection fees assessed on new development. 

Acquisition of the land was part of a plan by the city to:

• Create spray fields to pipe untreated agricultural waste water from Eckert’s for disposal.

• Use those same spray fields to actively go after securing food processors that seek locations to expand near crop production in the San Joaquin Valley to create jobs.

• The relocation of spray fields plus the transporting of sewer sludge for drying to the Hays Road location will eliminate any traces of odors connected with the present wastewater treatment plant.

• To replace wetlands among the more than 100 acres of city-owned wastewater treatment property west of Costco and Big League Dreams to allow the land to be converted into prime commercial uses.

• Create the first wetland mitigation bank in San Joaquin County working in conjunction with the Army Corps of Engineers that they can they sell easements to other jurisdictions in the county for the replacement of wetlands when needed within their communities.

• Develop the city’s own green waste composting facility.

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