What is it about a groundbreaking ceremony for a sewage treatment project that brings together Congresswoman Matsui, Congressmen Bera and Garamendi, two State Assembly members, a host of local elected officials, the Region 9 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Regional Administrator, and the Chair of the State Water Resources Control Board? On May 28th, the Sacramento Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant (SRWTP) project—also known as the EchoWater project
—attracted these important public officials for its groundbreaking,… but why? Perhaps it’s because SRWTP sits just upstream of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the most critical water body in California, or because it is the largest inland wastewater discharger in the western U.S. When you also consider that EchoWater is the most expensive capital project in the history of Sacramento County and is financed by the largest federal loan in the 25-year history of the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) program, the importance of the EchoWater project becomes clearer.
The SRWTP is operated by the Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District—Regional San
—and is permitted to treat up to 181 million gallons of wastewater per day, then discharge the treated effluent to the Sacramento River, where it mixes with river water on its way to the Delta. This translates to over 200,000 acre-feet of water per year. The EchoWater project will upgrade treatment at the SRWTP to tertiary levels and nearly eliminate ammonia from the effluent. As the name suggests, EchoWater will allow reuse of treated effluent for agriculture, municipal irrigation, and industrial uses, and will also provide for cleaner water that will help protect the Delta environment. As California deals with an historic drought, climate change uncertainties, and annual water constraints, the EchoWater project serves as a model for the management and reuse of precious water resources. When “waste” is removed from “wastewater,” we can, as stated by Congresswoman Matsui, “use each drop once, twice, many times.”
(L to R: Doris Matsui; John Garamendi; Ami Bera)
At a cost of $2 billion, the EchoWater project eclipses all prior Sacramento County public projects, including the recent Sacramento International Airport expansion. In order to reduce costs to ratepayers, the project is largely financed by a low-interest SRF
loan administered by the EPA and the State Water Board. At $1.6 billion, this represents the largest SRF loan in the history
of this national program.
Ascent Environmental extends its hearty congratulations to the leadership, staff, and consulting team at Regional San for this tremendous accomplishment. We are proud to have supported Regional San with preparation of the environmental impact report, SRF documents (known as “CEQA Plus”), and environmental permitting. If you have any questions, please contact Ascent Principal, Gary Jakobs, AICP