San Juan Bautista officials, like their counterparts in Hollister, have a big decision to make about treatment of accumulated sludge at the wastewater treatment plant.
San Juan City Council members will hold a special meeting at 3 p.m. Thursday to consider options for sludge removal.
The city in September approved $400,000 to remove 40 percent of the sludge that had built up in the sewer pond, which had been at 99.5 percent capacity after accumulating for the past 30 years. Sludge is a natural byproduct of the wastewater treatment process.
“It was at a critical state,” City Manager Michaele LaForge told San Benito Live.
This week, LaForge will ask council members if they want to invest in removing more of the sludge, since the city already spent $80,000 to get the equipment out there and could avoid those additional costs down the road by doing more sludge removal now. There is another option on the table, however, and that is to develop an ongoing maintenance operation for sludge removal as opposed to doing it all in big, expensive chunks.
“We’re running out of land around the plant to be able to put up a big operation to do these once-every-20-year, sludge-removal projects,” LaForge said. “We may end up just, say, put it aside and put together an ongoing operation.”
That would entail an investment, and would take a good amount of planning and design work if the city goes that route. She said it would probably involve buying some of the land there, filling a portion of the pond and creating a flat area to store sludge-removal equipment.
If the city decides to remove more of the sludge now beyond the 40 percent, LaForge said it would cost about $800 a dry ton. So far, the city removed 435 dry tons of the 1,100-ton capacity.
San Juan Bautista’s consideration for treatment of sludge comes days after Hollister council members Monday decided to spend $1.8 million to have Synagrow, the same company doing the Mission City’s sludge work, remove those materials from the city’s domestic wastewater treatment pond that is at capacity.