By John D. Bennett
ROSAMOND – The Rosamond Community Services District received approval for changes to its wastewater treatment processes from a state oversight board.
“It’s wonderful news, because it’s one of the first of its kind,” said Rosamond CSD General Manager Steve Perez. “Rosamond kind of blazed the way and is one largest permits ever. It feels good we were able to do that and be able to be a pioneer and leader.”
On July 10, the California Regional Water Quality Control Board - Lahontan Region authorized revised waste discharge requirements to allow untreated domestic wastewater to be released into four oxidation/evaporation ponds pending upgrades of Rosamond’s wastewater plant.
Currently, wastewater flow is discharged into a series of compacted native soil lined treatment stabilization ponds, a 2015 board order required upgrading the treatment process or construction of lined ponds. The order was due to data from monitoring wells that indicated groundwater pollution from elevated concentrations of total dissolved solids and nitrate.
When the order was adopted, RCSD was operating a small 0.5 million gallon per day tertiary wastewater treatment plant. Most of the domestic wastewater was disposed into the ponds. The district intended to expand the tertiary wastewater treatment plant to produce tertiary recycled water for all its effluent with delivery to paying customers. Shortly thereafter, the district felt they could not justify the cost of producing tertiary treated recycled water given the limited ability of rate payers to pay the recycled water treatment costs.
The upgraded plant will provide denitrified, undisinfected secondary effluent that is discharged to three new percolation ponds constructed within the newest, least used, existing ponds. The percolation ponds allow water to filter down and recharge underground aquifers.
“The upgrades helps the district dispose of their effluent and provides a necessary resource,” said Perez. “The board complimented the district and our program that would allow us to discharge 1.27 million gallons a day, 1,000 acre feet a year, to help recharge the aquifer and provide water for beneficial use. The state is looking at how to protect aquifers and this is a resource that has not been tapped in past.”
An additional secondary treatment process will be constructed at larger scale to duplicate the existing small treatment plant that is currently in reserve status. That small plant will be re-activated, but the tertiary treatment components (filtration and disinfection) will not be used. The treatment plant will be increased into two aeration basins, two secondary clarifiers, 12 sludge beds, one septage receiving station will be added with a fully lined pond, and three new percolation ponds constructed, according to the meeting agenda Provisions have been made to add a potential fourth percolation pond, if needed. The three percolation ponds will be operated on a 3-month rotation, one in service and two out of service. After drying, the pond bottoms will be scarified to improve percolation rates.
Perez said the engineering for the new facility has already completed and it is scheduled to go out to bid next month. Construction could start as early as December or January.
The Lahonton Region meeting was held in Bishop and attended by Perez along with RCSD Board President Greg Wood, Director Byron Glennon and Assistant General Manager John Houghton.
“We went in force because we wanted to show the board we had a commitment to this,” said Perez.