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Local News

Santa Barbara Approves $8.5 Million Bid to Replace Filter at Recycled Water Plant

While the plant’s offline for about a year, recycled-water users will tap the same supply as residential and commercial customers

The City of Santa Barbara’s recycled water plant has degraded so much that the product has to be mixed with potable water to meet health and safety standards.

The tertiary filtration plant system was one of the first in the state when it was built in 1989 at the El Estero Wastewater Treatment Plant, according to Public Works Assistant Director Pat Kelly.

He said that about 90 percent of reclaimed water is potable now, which is obviously a problem during a drought.

The city’s water district has 80 large-volume customers for recycled water including parks, schools and the Santa Barbara Zoo.

The replacement project will take about a year, starting in June and, unfortunately, lands during dry months when water usage will probably increase. While the plant’s offline, recycled water users will be using the same water from groundwater wells or Lake Cachuma that is used by residential and commercial customers.

The City Council on Tuesday approved the $8.5 million bid for the project by Schock Contracting Corp., a construction management contract with MNS Engineers and construction support services.

Recycled water is the city’s second-cheapest water supply, after water from Lake Cachuma, according to water resources interim director Joshua Haggmark.

Water and wastewater rates incorporate capital project costs over time and city customers are facing increases this year.

The city wants to raise wastewater rates by 5.5 percent to cover big projects coming up and water rates will probably increase by 3 percent or more. The ordinance committee is currently discussing drought rates to encourage conservation during the drought, with lower rates for lower water use.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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