With water becoming more of a valuable resource this dry season, Oakdale city officials are contemplating the idea of finding a way to utilize treated wastewater for irrigation purposes or to possibly recharge the city’s eight deep ground water wells.
With the completion of the city’s wastewater treatment plant upgrades and with the continued dry weather in the region, city officials feel it is a good time to explore the topic and begin dialogue with the Oakdale Irrigation District about the possibility of working together to conduct a Wastewater Reclamation Feasibility Study.
The City of Oakdale owns and operates the Oakdale Wastewater Treatment Plant located at 9700 Liberini Avenue north of the Stanislaus River. The facility can treat up to 2.4 million gallons per day of domestic and industrial wastewater.
The Wastewater Treatment Plant is accountable for eliminating contaminants from wastewater. It goes through a physical, chemical, and biological process. This method gets rid of bacteria, reduces turbidity, removes odors, reduces the amount of iron, and removes other particulate matter that remains in the water. Officials claim the water is even clean enough to safely drink after it has been treated.
“It’s pretty much in its infancy stages right now,” said Oakdale City Councilman Tom Dunlop on the research into the possibility. “I know there’s usable water there. We have to see how best to use it.”
Dunlop said that since there are many ways to use the wastewater, the study would help define for the city which avenue to take and what infrastructure would be needed.
On Jan. 21, the Oakdale Irrigation District board unanimously approved a partnership with the City of Oakdale to investigate a water conservation project. OID and the city have talked for a number of years about a project to recycle treatment plant water into OID canals as a way to conserve water.
These types of projects exist around the state in various types of communities. CH2M Hill, an OID consultant on contract, will develop a scope of work and cost for the study. OID and the city will then look at the cost of a feasibility study before deciding if they wish to move forward.
“I’m hoping with good use of this, we can set the city up to be in a much better position,” Dunlop said. “This may not be a revenue generator, but a cost eliminator.”
Dunlop explained that money obtained from the water sale would offset the high power costs for the ultraviolet process used to treat the wastewater.
Just last week, the OID cautioned area farmers that the water shortage could diminish its water deliveries this year. OID also revealed on Jan. 21 that it plans to pump more than 5 billion gallons of groundwater from Stanislaus County aquifers to crops, five times more groundwater pumping than the normal amount.