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Lathrop seeks discharge of treated wastewater into San Joaquin River

The City of Lathrop wants to secure a permit that will allow for the discharge of treated wastewater into the San Joaquin River.

And on Monday they agreed to spend more than $400,000 to take steps towards achieving that longstanding goal.

As part of the consent calendar of items that were discussed and approved the Lathrop City Council agreed to sign three contracts with specialized consulting firms that will allow the processes involved with securing the permit – which the city believes will help stave off future sewer rate increases – to move forward.

The city will partner with Ascent Environmental to conduct the biological assessment required by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Robertson-Bryan Incorporated to obtain the environmental permits necessary for the project, and EKI Environment and Water for modeling and hydraulic calculations of the recycled water system – three contracts that total $407,418.

Currently Lathrop’s wastewater is treated at both the City of Manteca’s Wastewater Quality Control Flow and the City of Lathrop’s Consolidated Treatment Plant – with the effluent from Manteca’s plant primarily discharged into the San Joaquin River while Lathrop disposes of its effluent into holding pond and spray fields.

By eliminating the need for holding ponds and spray fields that are going to become harder to come by as development occurs around the city, Lathrop hopes to save money as growth increases the amount of wastewater flows and the need to secure even more contracts to dispose of the recycled water.

The funds to pay for the contracts were not fully included in the City of Lathrop’s annual budget, and as part of their action on Monday the council authorized spending $406,966 from the wastewater connection fee fund to help the city take steps towards achieving the longstanding goal.

The most expensive of the three contracts – a $249,504 agreement with Robertson-Bryan – will help the city secure the necessary environmental permits and will continue the partnership between the city and the firm that began in January of last year when they contacted to prepare the reports necessary for the permit acquisition for $74,939.

Later that year the city contracted with Ascent to prepare the first phase of documents that will allow Lathrop to complete the California Environmental Quality Act process necessary for advancing the project forward, and earlier this year the city approved a professional services agreement with Ascent for $574,446 in order to draft the final environmental impact report for the project.

The additional services will help the city through the laborious process involved with securing the permits from the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board – the body that currently regulates the city’s effluent disposal and reuse.

As part of the biological assessment that will have to be conducted, the city’s consultants will have to show that discharging additional effluent into the San Joaquin River will not harm the Delta Smelt – the small, endangered fish that has become a focal point in the fight for water rights in the Central Valley – and the endangered riparian brush rabbit, as well as a number of plants that grow along the banks of the river.

For additional information about the what the contracts entail, or to view a the specific contacts with each of the three firms, visit the City of Lathrop’s website at

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.