By Michael Raffety
Mountain Democrat 2-3-12
Two and out.
The El Dorado Irrigation District completed in two years what it had negotiated to complete in five years in a legal settlement with lawyers for the California Sport Protection Fishing Alliance.
In a deal that cost EID $240,000, the district agreed to reduce the number of sanitary sewer overflows to 5 per 100 miles by the fifth year. Instead the district achieved that in two years. Two consecutive years, to be exact.
That saved the district $6,000, because part of the settlement required the district to pay CalSPA $2,000 a year to “monitor” the district’s SSOs. CalSPA had used the “citizen suit” provisions of the federal Clean Water Act and the district’s own reporting to the state to sue and collect attorneys’ fees.
“If any sewer agency gets sued under the act, the agency will almost certainly lose and have to pay the plaintiff’s attorneys’ fees as well,” wrote Elizabeth Wells, EID engineering manager for wastewater and recycled water.
The reason the district is done with CalSPSa is because it negotiated an early termination clause.
EID achieved that after Operations Director Tom McKinney and Wastewater Division Manager Vickie Caulfield achieved a big switch and a two-fer. They changed from 24-hour shift operation at Deer Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant to a single shift, with offsite monitoring through the district’s sophisticated computer telemetry system. The extra shift was put to work on a newly purchased $350,000 hydro cleaning truck that cleans out sewer lines.
To make night shift elimination work required the district to build a new $1.8 million bridge to the Deer Creek that would be above the flood plain, so plant operators could get to the plant after hours even in high water.
The first year of the agreement the district recorded 4.27 sanitary sewer overflows per 100 miles, down from 10.2 in 2009. The agreement called for 11 SSOs in 2010 and 2011. For 2011 the district recorded 1.96 SSOs per 100 miles.
“This is a very significant achievement for collection crews,” Wells and Caulfield wrote in a report to the board.
“Elizabeth Wells and myself worked our tails off,” Caulfield told the board Jan. 23. “John Shavers, the collections systems supervisor is now working in the rain.”
“We could not have done it without the support of the Board of Directors,” Caulfield said. “Without that trust we could not have accomplished this.”
“The Mother Lode Force main replacement is a huge part of this success,” Caulfield said.
That project replaced 6,700 feet of rotted sewer line at a cost of $1.7 million – below the engineer’s estimate of $3 million.
The district’s sewer system has 561 miles of pipeline, 7,300 manholes and 64 lift stations. It covers 77 square miles.