LATHROP — It isn’t electricity that’s important when you’re building new homes.
It’s not the price of concrete or steel, or whether your plans are to market them to executives or working families.
It’s something much less sexy than that.
It’s sewer capacity, plain and simple. You can’t build more homes than what the local sewer plant can keep up with in terms of its capacity.
And with the approval of a measure by the Lathrop City Council Monday night, the City of Lathrop cleaned up an otherwise convoluted sewer agreement and took the first step towards expanding its capacity as it prepares for development once again.
According to City Engineer and Community Development Director Glen Gebhardt, the item that the council approved on Monday did a variety of things — primarily clearing up a paperwork nightmare that began in the mid 2000s when two large master planned communities were being constructed on the west side of Interstate 5.
One of the communities, Gebhardt said, worked out a plan with the city to build its own separate sewer facility so that it didn’t have to wait on the other massive development — essentially dedicating one to each of them. The move by the council on Monday combined the two, and now gives Lathrop just under a million gallons-a-day of capacity.
Talks are also underway with the City of Manteca that could allow Lathrop to get a temporary boost in its sewer capacity while the construction is ongoing. Initially the city chose not to approve that request, and Gebhardt said that he didn’t know whether the issue would continue to be discussed between City Manager Steve Salvatore and representatives from Manteca that oversee the city’s sewer treatment plant on West Yosemite Avenue.
But it’s not like Lathrop won’t have the sewer capacity to meet the future needs of developers that have started to once again take an interest in the community.
Gebhardt says that while the city only has a capacity of just under a million gallons-a-day now, their master plan calls for just over 9 million gallons-a-day once it is completely built out — providing enough sewer for roughly the equivalent of 162,000 residents.
“Every step from here on will be incremental,” Gebhardt said. “It will be a long time before we reach that full capacity mark, and that’ll be beneficial because it will give us the chance to see what we need to meet future needs.”
Construction is expected to begin in the next several months.