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Lathrop step closer to state OK for river discharge

The City of Lathrop is one step closer to earning a permit that will allow for the discharge of treated wastewater straight into the San Joaquin River. 

Last week the Lathrop City Council approved an agreement with environmental engineering firm Robertson-Bryan Inc. for $74,939 – funded by River Islands with the expectation that the costs will “eventually be split and reimbursed by the future benefitting parties” – to support the review necessary to receive a National Point Discharge Elimination System permit that will allow the city’s treated wastewater to be discharged rather than stored or sprayed. 

Currently the City of Lathrop disposes of the effluent that is generated from the Lathrop Consolidated Treatment Facility by storing it in basins during the winter months, and then applying it to urban or agricultural landscapes during the summer months. 

But the permit will do more than just add convenience when it comes to disposing of the effluent generated during the treatment process. 

According to the staff report prepared for the council, being able to dispose of surface water will become a necessity as wastewater flows increase and land for proper disposal becomes unavailable – potentially lost to the sorts of development that is continuing to drive up the need for the city to secure a long-term solution. 

So far, the city has held several meetings with RBI, the environmental engineer, and the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board, the agency that would issue the permit, and have stated their intention to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act by completing the necessary studies and reports that are required for discharging into a public waterway. 

With residential development taking off in River Islands – which will eventually be home to more than 11,000 dwelling units – and other residential developments, in places like the Central Lathrop Specific Plan, set to add thousands more, the need to not only meet the necessary sewer capacity but also the long-term discharge has long been a priority of city staff as they plan for the future. 

And River Islands has taken the financial lead on many of these long-range projects – fronting the money for other developers and recuperating that investment at future dates when other development occurs. The development was instrumental in the construction of the Lathrop Consolidated Treatment Facility that will serve the city’s new development in exchange for first rights to sewer capacity as it becomes available in modular upgrades. 

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.