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A concern: Gophers & wastewater

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POSTED April 10, 2014 1:25 a.m.

LATHROP – Just how clean is that wastewater after it goes through its tertiary treatment and chlorination process?

Clean enough to use on crops. 

While the City of Lathrop doesn’t actually use the water that’s recycled as a byproduct of the treatment process to grow anything, according to the State of California there’s nothing to fear about it being used on or around any sort of food crop or the land used to grow them.

Convincing people of that, however, is a different story entirely. 

On Monday the Lathrop City Council agreed unanimously to allow the city to move forward with construction of additional reclaimed water spray ponds at the end of Dos Reis Road that will serve a portion of new houses being built as part of the Central Lathrop Specific Plan. 

Neighbors – specifically landowner Dan Doyle – is worried that the lined retention basin and the unlined bowls that will make up the complex will be subject to the one pest that no area farmer, in his decades of working the land in the area, has ever been able to conquer. 

Gophers.

A single hole into that retention basin, Doyle claimed, could leak the treated wastewater into his neighboring field and jeopardize the future value of his land and the crops that he would be able to grow on it. 

City Engineer Glen Gebhardt, however, said that Lathrop’s treatment process is so refined that the water is actually safe enough to be used on crops and doesn’t fall under the same wastewater reclamation standards that Doyle was referencing – still, at the same time, maintaining that the city would strive to be a good neighbor and would assume any liability to future land values as a byproduct of an accident or a rupture. 

Treated wastewater – which, after a purifying process can be as clean as or even cleaner than the drinking water that comes from the tap – is often sent back out to the San Joaquin River or released out into spray fields or onto crops that aren’t utilized for food. 

Given California’s current water situation, talks are underway at the local and the state level to incorporate the use of treated wastewater into everyday tasks – preserving standard, often precious drinking water.

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