The City Council on Tuesday approved a slew of costly sewer-related projects, a reminder that cleaning up dirty water costs Modesto a pretty penny.
Some of the projects are related to upgrades at the city's Jennings Road treatment plant. The upgrades are needed so Modesto can meet stricter government regulations on how clean waste water must be before it's dumped into the San Joaquin River.
The city has until 2013 to meet those requirements; doing so will cost an estimated $454 million.
That price could mean a sewer rate increase is looming. The City Council put off a scheduled increase last year, but city staff indicated Tuesday night that a possible increase will be revisited sooner rather than later.
However, the city hopes to win federal stimulus money to pay for some of the sewer upgrades, which could lessen the burden on ratepayers, said Director of Utility Planning and Projects Nick Pinhey.
The council voted 7-0 to move forward with the following projects:
A $10,452,745 contract with Siemens Water Technologies for a membrane system that cleans waste water. "It's a lot cleaner than the standard conventional treatment methods that we had before," said senior civil engineer William Wong.
A $1.7 million contract with Trojan Technologies of Ontario, Canada, for an ultra-violet disinfection system. The system zaps waste water with ultraviolet light, which "deactivates" bacteria and disinfects the water. It's a safer alternative to chlorine, Wong said.
A $99,000 contract to EcoLogic Engineering of Stockton to design and plan a system to provide clean drinking water for employees at the Jennings Road treatment plant.
The city was cited by the State Division of Occupational Safety and Health last year because non-potable water was being used for showering at the end of shifts and for washing dishes used for drinking and eating.