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Manteca turns sewer land into economic Mother Lode
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Most people saw just an old dump and abandoned wastewater treatment plant.

Manteca leaders saw an 18-hole golf course with a country club-style clubhouse.

The Manteca Park Course - the most successful municipal course in the Northern San Joaquin Valley based on rounds played - was built atop the old municipal dump and wastewater treatment plant.

Just over a mile away the city is enjoying three consecutive years of record success at the 30-acre Big League Dreams sports complex. It is just a stone’s throw from the actual wastewater treatment plant and was built on land once designated for semi-treated wastewater holding ponds. The same is true of the adjacent Stadium Retail Center anchored by Kohl’s and Costco.

And now Manteca may even top itself with the potential development of an actual resort on wastewater treatment plant land.

The year 2012 could roll around with families forking out close to $400 a day to stay at a $200 million resort hotel and that ultimately could have 600 rooms along with a 70,000-sqare-foot indoor water park. Visitors could easily look gaze out of the sixth floor looking north and get a sweeping view of Manteca’s wastewater treatment plant. The city also may entice development of another 100 acres as a family entertainment zone. And all of it is on wastewater treatment plant land.

That doesn’t include the South County administrative center that will be built on additional land once tied to the treatment plant that will bring county services as well as upwards of 600 jobs to Manteca.

The out-of-the-box thinking takes advantage of the expensive treatment process that Manteca put in place ahead of other cities in the region. It effectively eliminates odor issues and helps compact the treatment process with cutting edge technology such as ultra-violet light.

So how can the city top that since they need the remaining land for additional treatment plant expansion?

Yes and no.

They do need the land to comply with state requirements but they don’t need the eland there necessarily.

The city is toying with the idea of using purple pipe to transport water to required standing past treatment ponds south of the 120 Bypass onto 200 acres that could turn into an urban oasis of sorts. Mayor Willie Weatherford at one time suggested planting it heavily with high water consuming trees such as willows.

Whatever the case such a move could allow Manteca to easily put in place a mirror treatment process to double the size of the plant.

Meanwhile, the city won’t have to tie up high exposure land with wastewater treatment ponds. Instead that land could generate significant revenue for municipal uses.

While much ado has been made about the McKinley Avenue interchange the city is pursuing and how it will open up southwest Manteca to development it also provides incredible access to city-owned land that most people would consider useless for development. The city-owned land would then be located between two interchanges - Airport Way and McKinley Avenue.

That is why long-range plans have called for developing a business park north of BLD on the eastern most wastewater treatment plant land by extending Milo Candini Drive all the way to Yosemite Avenue.

That would be pursued in conjunction with the redevelopment agency buying up property when it becomes available between Yosemite Avenue and Daniels along Airport Way that is planed in the regional road system as ultimately being six lanes.

That would turn an area of the city with rundown former rural housing and a wastewater treatment plant into an economic juggernaut.

And it gets even better.

The city has received permission from the Regional Water Quality Control Board to use treated wastewater to irrigate the BLD complex and landscaping at the Stadium Retail Center as well as power the fountain along the 120 Bypass. Before you turn your nose up at the idea, the water is cleaner than that in the San Joaquin River. The treatment process has been used successfully elsewhere in California to provide clean water needed for everything from the manufacturing of silicon chips to irrigating the many golf courses in Palm Springs.

The dogged pursuit of an economic Mother Lode from wastewater treatment land is a Manteca success story.

It illustrates the value of bold, innovative, and visionary thinking.