Editor, Manteca Bulletin,
As pointed out in the April 16 news article, today’s treated wastewater from Manteca’s wastewater plant is clean enough for drinking and showering, and discharging into the San Joaquin River. As my old friend, Mike Brinton, the former Manteca public works director, used to say, as long as the fathead minnows can survive the lab’s test of the reclaimed water, we are good to go.
For decades Manteca has been maneuvering through the ever-changing state and federal standards for disposal of wastewater from Manteca’s sewer plant. In support of staff’s endeavors, it has been an arduous task to keep up with and anticipate the standards as they become more stringent with time. However, the response to the changing requirements has been representative of the adage, a day late and a dollar short; because the “best” solution is never implemented and the “cheapest” fix is always the outcome.
Council is now proposing to discharge reclaimed wastewater onto surrounding farmland because the land is abundant and in desperate need of water; if it were only that simple. With all the state and federal standards that the farmers themselves must meet, they now will have to content with the wastewater salts and nitrates deposited into the top soil layers as the reclaimed wastewater from Manteca’s sewer plant seeps through the soil.
Rather than “passing the solution” to someone else, why not finally solve the problem. Let’s transform the existing sewer plant into a regional wastewater treatment facility with integrated reverse osmosis that services the future needs of Manteca and Lathrop, and the farming community. I propose formation of a 7-way partnership of South San Joaquin Irrigation District, the farmers, Manteca and Lathrop, the development community, the Regional Water Quality Control Board, and the federal clean water agency, to resolve the problem of reclaimed wastewater disposal. Doing so will be an economic benefit at many levels.