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Lathrop moves closer to river sewer discharge
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The City of Lathrop is one step closer to discharging the water that remains after the sewage treatment process into the San Joaquin River.

Last month the Lathrop City Council approved a contract with Fruit Growers Testing Laboratory for $44,535 to conduct testing to see whether the city is meeting its goals prior to formally discharging its treated wastewater back into the San Joaquin River where it will ultimately flow out into the Delta and ultimately the Pacific Ocean.

Currently Lathrop is required to discharge its treated wastewater to land – they spray it on specific fields so that it can filter down through the ground and back into the aquifer – but has applied for the water discharge requirements to be rescinded in June and are awaiting the results of that application.

The cost of the contract will include $29,842 to conduct testing for the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit, and $14,693 for the testing necessary to secure the ability to discharge into the river and not onto the spray fields that have already been designated and approved by regulating bodies.

That contract will remain in place through the end of this fiscal year which concludes at the end of June.

While Lathrop has for years used spray fields to disseminate the treated wastewater from its treatment plant, the ability to discharge effluent directly into the San Joaquin River will allow the city to move forward with development on land that would otherwise be reserved solely for wastewater – turning parcels of land that would otherwise be worthless into something that could benefit residents by providing the amenities that they demand.

In order to qualify for the permit, Lathrop had to hire engineers to conduct a variety of studies including a biological assessment that shows that the city’s desires won’t harm the endangered Delta Smelt – the small, innocuous fish that has been at the center of California’s ongoing water wars – or the endangered riparian brush rabbit or any of the endangered plant species that call the banks of the San Joaquin River home.

To view the staff report prepared for the council on the discharge testing contract visit the City of Lathrop’s website at

To contact Bulletin reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.