Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Sewer Board To Discuss Plant Expansion Plans

Sewer Board To Discuss Plant Expansion Plans
By Barry Eberling

FAIRFIELD - A $45 million Fairfield-Suisun Sewer District plant and sewer system expansion is proposed to handle the expected growth for the two cities.

On Monday, the Sewer District Board of Directors will decide if the bigger plant would hurt the environment. The Fairfield and Suisun City Councils comprise the board.

A study by Environmental Science Associates sees no problems that can't be addressed. The one "significant and unavoidable" effect is growth of the cities, since a bigger plant would allow the cities to keep growing.

"The plant expansion is responding directly to the approved general plans of the two cities," said Larry Bahr of the district.

But some residents are skeptical. They are concerned a bigger sewer district plant would send larger amounts of treated sewage sludge to Potrero Hills Landfill near Suisun Marsh. They are afraid the treated sludge is bad for the ecosystem and public health.

The board meets at 7 p.m. in its chamber at 1010 Chadbourne Road.

The sewer district plant handles about 14.5 million gallons of sewage daily. Its capacity is about 17.5 million gallons and the proposed expansion would make the capacity 23.7 million gallons.

Without expansion, the district plant will have increasing problems properly handing wastewater flows, the environmental report said. Options include expanding in piecemeal fashion or imposing development restrictions, it said.

But the expansion environmental report hasn't satisfied a local group called Citizens Against the Dump Expansion.

The group's focus is blocking an attempt by Potrero Hills Landfill to expand. The private owners say the dump will fill up in a decade unless it gets bigger. Potrero Hills Landfill is located in hills amid Suisun Marsh, a few miles south of Suisun City.

The group sees a link between the proposed dump and sewer district plant expansions. That's because the sewer district plant sends its treated sewage sludge to Potrero Hill Landfill to be disposed of by covering garbage.

Bahr has said the treated sludge poses no public health or environmental threats when handled correctly. Others are concerned the biosolids could contain pathogens, as well as pharmaceuticals and other materials that end up in the sewers.

Citizens Against the Dump Expansion questions whether treated sewage sludge - also called biosolids - can legally be dumped in the protected Suisun Marsh area.

"We believe Potrero Hills Landfill is an inappropriate destination for biosolids currently and into the future," Dwight Acey wrote on behalf of the group.

Acey asked what the sewer district would do with its treated sewage sludge if the dump does indeed close. He wants that issue addressed in the sewer district expansion environmental study.

"The major concern we have is they don't have an alternative site," Acey said.

The district will be looking at other options for biosolids disposal in coming months, Bahr said.

The sewer district plant expansion is to take place over three years. But work can't get started until the district board approves the environmental report.

On Monday, the board will decide if the environmental report is sufficient.

Reach Barry Eberling at 425-4646 Ext. 232 or at beberling@dailyrepublic.net.

At a glance

Who: Fairfield-Suisun Sewer District Board

What: Environmental study to expand sewer district plant

When: 7 p.m. Monday

Where: Fairfield-Suisun Sewer District plant, 1010 Chadbourne Road

Info: 429-8930

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