Sewer plant savings to pass onto public
By Jean McLeod — Wednesday, February 27th, 2013
Expect slower rising water/sewer bills
Steve Stewart with Fillmore's Planning Department and Tom Peterson, American Water Contact Operations, explained to council they expect a savings in maintenance of up to one million dollars due to an unexpected longer life of the micro-organisms used to treat the sewage at the plant.
The February 26, 2013 Fillmore City Council Meeting was one of the shortest in recent years, lasting only 45 minutes. But, that did not mean things weren't getting done and being addressed. One agenda item most residents will be pleased with was the possibility of a slower increase in Fillmore sewer rates. Also, during Public Comments One Step a la Vez gave a short presentation of the various programs and activities they provide Fillmore's youth.
The residents of Fillmore have seen their monthly sewer and water rates steadily climb in the five years since the Fillmore Water Treatment Plant was built. The Plant, which is contract to be run by American Water, has been a political football here in Fillmore with two opposing camps; those that were involved in the building of the plant and those that opposed it. But it was the State of California that threatened to levy huge fines if Fillmore did nothing. Other towns in California have water and sewer rates equal to Fillmore, some even higher, such as San Luis Obispo, but Fillmore is a much smaller town with a greater percentage of residents on fixed incomes.
Steve Stewart with Fillmore's Planning Department and Tom Peterson, American Water Contact Operations, explained they expect a savings in maintenance of up to one million dollars due to an unexpected longer life of the micro-organisms used to treat the sewage at the plant. The micro-organisms, which is called the membrane, was budgeted to be replaced this year, but it is still functioning and lasting longer than anticipated. Steward informed the Council that the filtering membrane system may continue to be useful for another year or maybe many more years. This will delay the $800,000-$1,000,000 replacement deposit required and will hold back an increase in sewer rates by five dollars each month. Stewart also informed the Council that Dave Burkhart, who was previously with the Ventura Regional Sanitation District, has worked hard in exploring ideas to generate revenue and ways to keep costs down.
Stewart asked the Council join with Ventura, Santa Paula and Piru in the Lower Santa Clara River Groundwater Basins Salt and Nutrient Management Plan Development Group (all those towns that run along the Santa Clara River) in developing a regional plan to help recycle water from waste water. This is part of the State Water Resource Control Board (SWRC) Policy of encouraging the use of recycled water from waste water sources as a safe alternative water supply. The goal is to increase the use of recycled water over 2002 levels by one million acres-foot per year by 2020 and two million acre-foot by 2030. SWRC is moving forward with this plan and due to some areas along the river having higher salts and nutrients SWRC determined the cities should work together. In August of 2011 a cost sharing plan of 25% matching funds from those participating was established along with $397,000 in grant funding through Proposition 84.. Participants are required to provide $134,530 (Fillmore's share is $10,762) of the $531,530 total cost of the project.
Also on agenda, Lynn Edmonds Director of One Step a la Vez gave a presentation of the many accomplishments the organization has achieved. Along with tutoring, community service hours, help with college registration, providing laptops to students, the importance of an education and help with learning to play a musical instrument, the organization teaches Fillmore youth community involvement such as the Chevron Site Health Survey and early intervention in behavioral life. Edmonds informed the Council that One Step's yearly budget is $209,000 mostly from grants and spoke from the heart when she stated, "Youth involved have a better chance to be successful.....every youth that's at the Center is not out there tagging, not that they would do that."