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$20.1M project upgrades treatment plant
Besides keeping the wastewater treatment plant at optimum operating standards, the $20.1 million project awarded last week by the Manteca City Council will allow food waste such as that collected by students at Woodward School to be converted into biogas to fuel Mantecas solid waste collection trucks. - photo by HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

It is the most expensive public works project undertaken by the City of Manteca in more than 15 years coming in at $20.1 million.
Yet on the glamour scale it is something that you don’t want to see or even smell.
The $20.1 million will rehabilitate and prevent structural failings at Manteca’s municipal wastewater treatment plant as well as make it possible to covert sewer methane gas and food waste into compressed biogas to fuel the city’s fleet of nearly two dozen solid waste collection trucks.
On Tuesday, the City Council awarded a contract to Western Water Contractors to improve digesters at the wastewater treatment plant. The work involves installing two new 65-foot diameter anaerobic digesters, construction of a new digester control building, repair of two existing 60-foot diameter anaerobic digesters, installation of a new compliant flare system, installation of new compliant boilers, installation of new gas handling and treatment equipment plus other associated improvements to support the treatment of waste solids, production of biogas, and the continued smooth operation of the wastewater treatment plant.
If that sounds like a mouthful, then frame the expenditure this way: It  makes it possible for Manteca to continue processing wastewater generated by its 75,000 residents and a large chunk of Lathrop’s 23,000 citizens to a high environmental standard while at the same time putting apparatus in place to produce biogas.
When the work is done, wastewater will be cleaned to the point it is one process short of being drinkable as it has been for more than 15 years. It will assure that the treated wastewater that Manteca in the coming years will recycle to irrigate municipal parks continues to be significantly cleaner that the water in the San Joaquin River where it is released.
Another $6 million project being put to bid in the coming months will build compressed biogas fueling facilities. That facility will be paid in part with a $1.8  million grant from the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District.
The city is also in the running for a $3 million grant from the California Energy Commission.
If the city does get the energy grant, they will know in early 2017 before they seek a bond issue supported by wastewater maintenance and operation monthly charges to users. By waiting until then the city can size the bond to reflect the balance that won’t be covered by grants.
When a new bond is issued it will be combined with the refunding of the 2009 and 2012 sewer bonds to take advantage of lower interest to reduce overall costs to municipal ratepayers. The city’s stellar handling of the wastewater treatment enterprise account allows it to borrow money at virtually the lowest rate possible.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email