Could Lathrop parks one day be irrigated with treated wastewater?
That all depends on the outcome of a study commissioned last month by the Lathrop City Council to determine whether recycled water from the Lathrop Consolidated Treatment Facility is suitable for irrigation in city parks and publicly-maintained landscape areas throughout the city.
With the council’s blessing, Pacific Advanced Central Engineering will provide an assessment of the recycled water system – which the firm developed – and provide operational strategies that will allow the city to use surplus recycled water on urban parks and street landscapes.
The entire cost of the study is not to exceed $25,520. If approved, the cost for the necessary infrastructure upgrades are already budgeted as part of the treatment facility’s future expansion.
Currently the city’s recycled water is authorized for agricultural use. The city uses spray fields to help dispose of water safely and appropriately.
But just because it’s water that came from a treatment plant doesn’t mean that the finished product – which the city would use for local irrigation – is anything like what flows into the plant.
Current water purification processes make it possible for municipalities to actually treat wastewater and create a finished product that is actually cleaner than the water that comes from some area wells – water that is generally thought to be safe to drink. Some cities in California inject recycled water down into aquifers or let it absorb through the ground in recharge ponds in order to supplement the existing groundwater supply.
Environmental engineering firm EKI Environment and Water is currently in the process of updating the city’s existing recycled water master plan, the data acquired by PACE on the recently approved study will help supplement that process and allow Lathrop to craft clear guidelines and intentions for how they wish to supplement existing practices that use potable water with its recycled counterpart.
Given the stigma surrounding recycled water, the majority of treated wastewater is either dispersed locally onto spray fields or pushed back out into the San Joaquin River. By reclaiming some of that water, Lathrop – which currently relies solely on groundwater to serve the growing community – would be able to further preserve the precious commodity.