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Residents leery of recycled water

Raise concerns about future impacts on their well water

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Residents leery of recycled water

The Hays Road land he city owns where it may use recycled wastewater for crop irrigation.

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

POSTED May 9, 2014 1:59 a.m.

Nearly 100 rural Manteca residents are casting a wary eye toward the City of Manteca’s plans to potentially use recycled treated wastewater for everything from park and farmland irrigation to recharging underground water tables.

Rural South Manteca resident Marty Harris on behalf of a new advocacy group being formed that’s dubbed Neighbors United on Tuesday presented the City Council with roughly 100 signatures asking that the use of recycled water be given exhaustive scrutiny.

The bottom line of their worries is the recycled water eventually will make its way into underground water tables they depend upon for domestic and irrigation uses. Harris made it clear the group is concerned about impacts using recycled water will have on both sides of the 120 Bypass in urban and rural areas alike.

And while Manteca officials assured rural residents that the city will be required to meet state standards for cleaning wastewater for re-use, they still voiced concern about issues such as salinity.

City Manager Karen McLaughlin noted environmental issues as well as the proper use of recycled wastewater will  be addressed in studies that will  be part of a reclaimed water use master plan the city will develop during the next fiscal year that starts July 1.

Recycled wastewater is being used elsewhere in California to do everything from irrigating golf courses near Palm Springs and providing irrigation water for farmland to recharging aquifers so cities can pump out water for domestic uses.

Among Manteca’s various options for treated wastewater are:

• Irrigation of parks and landscaping along the 120 Bypass corridor.

• Creating possible wetlands in conjunction with the Trails at Manteca neighborhood on the western end of Woodward Avenue.

• Possibly diverting the water to the South San Joaquin Irrigation District for farm uses.

• Selling the water to downstream uses as allowed under state law.

• Disposing of it on 417 acres of farmland they bought three years ago along Hays Road near the San Joaquin River roughly over a mile west of the T-intersection of Airport Way and West Ripon Road.

The city plans to identify crop opportunities that treated water could be used for as well as develop the master plan and obtain state regulatory clearance to apply treated effluent from the wastewater treatment plant and/or Eckert Cold Storage wastewater to the 417 acres.  

This could:

• avoid future costs the city is expected to incur as water standards are tightened further for releases into the Delta by switching to land disposal.

• allow 100 acres the city owns around the wastewater treatment plant to eventually be converted to entertainment zoning effectively increasing the value of the land in today’s prices by at least 500 percent.

• generate revenue by leasing the Hays Road land complete with a water source to farmers. It would be similar to an arrangement now on property around the wastewater treatment plant that nets the city income from farmers growing corn for use as silage while using the treated water from the plant.

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