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AAFES, Discovery Academy in need of sewer service

The Defense Logistics Agency’s decommissioning process of the 724-acre Sharpe Army Depot site is to the point the federal government will be shutting down the facility’s wastewater treatment plant and portable water wells as early as October.

That will leave the 850,000-square-foot Army Air Force Exchange Services’ West Coast Distribution Center as well as the Discovery Challenge Academy that works with at-risk youth that are located on the site without water or sewer service. The City of Lathrop where Sharpe Depot is located can provide water service. As for sewer service, the closest treatment plant is the Manteca facility. The City of Lathrop wants to send the wastewater from Sharpe Depot to the Manteca plant but there is one issue: Lathrop’s 14.7 percent contractual share of the Manteca plant’s 9.87 million gallons a day treatment capacity is maxed out on paper.

Lathrop would like to send the wastewater from AFFES and Discovery to Manteca.

The City Council last week on a 3-1 vote with Richard Silverman dissenting and Gary Singh absent opted not to consider approving the request until Manteca municipal staff gives them a clearer picture of how much of the remaining capacity Manteca growth in the pipeline that includes commercial, industrial, and residential will consume as well as the cost of the two entities connecting to the Manteca plant.

Public Works Director Mark Houghton indicated  staff was “comfortable under current growth trends”  that Manteca would be able to accommodate growth without a hiccup as the city prepares to decide the best way to expand the wastewater treatment plan in five years or so.

The requested capacity — 32,000 gallons a day — would take Lathrop’s share of the treatment plant up from 14.7 percent to 15 percent.

Silverman argued that given 32,000 gallons is small compared to the remaining capacity of around 3 million gallons that approval would not have a significant impact.

Silverman called helping Lathrop “being good neighbors.”

While Mayor Steve DeBrum agreed that helping neighbors was important adding he is a big component of regionalization, he wanted to have more specific information about future Manteca needs before making a decision.

Lathrop determined it would cost around $500,000 to send the wastewater a longer route to Lathrop’s treatment plant as well as install ponds and spray fields. Lathrop didn’t believe the work could be done by October to connect to their plant.

Manteca staff noted Lathrop is current using 67 percent of its allocated capacity at the Manteca plant on any given day. At one point it was suggested Lathrop could possibly contact the developers in their community they have committed the rest of their existing Manteca treatment plant capacity to in a bid to make room for AAFES and the Discovery Academy.

 AAFES is a major regional employer. More than 500 work at the complex that serves as a distribution center for Army and Air Force base exchanges throughout the Pacific Rim.

Discovery Academy is a partnership between the California National Guard and San Joaquin County Office of Education for at-risk youth between the ages of 16 and 18 who have dropped out of high school. Discovery offers a highly structured environment that promotes leadership, cooperation, and academic skills, while building self-esteem, pride, and confidence.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email