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Food to fuel will cut greenhouse gas
Wastewater Systems Superintendent Heather Grove makes the rounds at the treatment plant. - photo by HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

Manteca — under a Climate Action Plan adopted in 2013 — must reduce its per capita greenhouse gases by 21.7 percent by the time 2020 roll around.

That target was set in response in not only the general plan that serves as the blueprint for growth that was adopted in 2000 by the City Council but also Assembly Bill 32 that established  specific greenhouse gas reduction mandates.

Experts determined state regulations dealing primarily with vehicles, housing construction, the expansion of solar energy and such would reduce emissions by 19.5 percent. That left the city to come up with a 2.2 percent reduction.

Much of the city’s share of the AB32 required reduction will come from the food waste to fuel program that is in the process of being implemented over the next two years.

When it comes to operations controlled by the city and not the community in general, municipal vehicles in 2013 were the No. 1 source of greenhouse gases generated 2,358 metric tons of carbon dioxide or 32.2 percent. Next is the wastewater treatment process that produced 1,738 metric tons of carbon dioxide.

The food waste to fuel solution that the city is able to implement due to the fact it not only has a state-of-the-art wastewater treatment facility but it also operates its own solid waste collection actually kills three birds with one stone.

They are:

uReducing greenhouse gases as well as other pollution reduction goals established by the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District to 1990 levels.

uMeeting a state mandate to stop burying food waste in landfills.

uA City Council directive to put in place solutions that will keep municipal sewer, water, and solid waste charges at the lowest possible level in the long haul.

When up and running the food waste to fuel process will help take the equivalent of 2,338 vehicles off Northern San Joaquin Valley roads when it comes to air quality impacts.

Food waste that is now being collected at 183 locations in Manteca with more to come will be combined with methane gas produced from the wastewater treatment process to produce compressed gas to power the city’s nearly two dozen solid waste trucks with clean burning fuel.

That in turn will eliminate the need to burn off methane gas as is now happening at the wastewater treatment plant.

In addition the city is moving forward with a solar farm at the treatment plant site. That ultimately will produce almost half the power the plant needs to operate further reducing the city’s carbon footprint. At the same time it will ultimately allow the city to reduce its electricity bill for the plant by 40 percent. The city currently pays PG&E in excess of $1.2 million a year to power the plant.

 The $29.2 million project’s biggest cost is nearly $20 million for the replacement of aging digesters at the wastewater treatment facility. The digesters after decades of use are not only in bad repair but also no longer meet stricter San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District standards. Money to replace the digesters has been put aside over the years. The contract to do the work has already been awarded.

On Tuesday, the City Council is expected to authorize Acting City Manager Greg Showerman to sign documents to seek a $1.2 million grant from Cal Recycle to help offset the cost of the food waste to fuel effort. The city has already been awarded a $1.6 million grant for biofuel production and supply for the California Energy Commission.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email