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Eckert pipeline solution helped 100s of families
Eckert cold storage on Moffat Boulevard south of the Manteca High football stadium.

There is an item on tonight’s City Council meeting agenda tied to a 2000 decision that saved more than 300 blue collar jobs in Manteca of which many still exist today.

The 23-year-old decision also made it possible for 1,853 homes to be built with the bulk of those being around Woodward Park.

 That in turn provided jobs in Manteca for not only tradespeople that built the homes but those employed in industries tied to home construction for everything from materials to financing and outfitting houses with furniture and appliances.

The council item tonight adjusts the annual industrial sewer system charge for Eckert Cold Storage to  $179,906 for 2023.

The charge has been adjusted yearly to reflect city costs. It was $152,724 back in 2010.

The cold storage facility is on Moffat Boulevard and backs up to the Manteca High football stadium.

 Washing red peppers

was the problem

The food processing and cold storage operation in November of 2000 was sending 500,000 gallons of wastewater a day to the treatment plant from its process of washing red, green, and yellow bell peppers for processing.

An inordinate amount of red peppers was playing havoc at the treatment plant prompting the city to exceed acceptable nitrate levels and creating a potential lethal situation for fish swimming near the city’s outlet for treated wastewater on the San Joaquin River.

The solution was to build a purple line from the Eckert’s plant down Moffat, along the Highway 120 Bypass to a point west of Airport Way and up to the wastewater treatment plant where the nitrate laden water would be disposed on surplus land for crops  that thrive off nitrates.

Unless the city could reduce the nitrates, Eckert’s would be forced to close costing more than 300 Manteca private sector jobs. Eckert’s couldn’t afford the $1.2 million tab for the pipeline.

The housing boom was underway and sewer capacity was running out at the treatment plant.

Developers — working in conjunction with city staff —  hatched a plan to have the capacity used by Eckert’s shifted to residential uses in exchange for developers fronting the $1.2 million to build the line plus give another $2.3 million in bonus bucks – development agreement fees paid in exchange for sewer allocation certainty. The water, basically harmless for land disposal, would no longer flow into the treatment plant.

Those bonus bucks made it possible to complete the Union Road fire station, build the skate park, and install traffic signals at two Tidewater crossings – one on Louise Avenue and the other on Northgate Drive.

The land diversion of Eckert’s wash water freed up plant capacity to accommodate 1,853 single family homes.

The pipeline wasn’t used for its intended purpose for almost seven years. The following year after the line was installed, Eckert reworked its process to pre-treat the water and reduce red peppers that was the cause of most of the problem.

Should Eckert’s not need the pipeline in the future, the city now has a backbone in place to transport treated water along the Highway 120 Bypass corridor for use in landscaping  to nearby heavy water users such as Woodward Park, the Spreckels BMX Park, as well as other parks and large expanses of lawn at schools.

The city at one pointed had a goal to use treated water to irrigate Big League Dreams sports complex and nearby shopping center landscaping. Purple pipe for that is also in place.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, e-mail