Communities don’t often celebrate sewer plants, but few cities have as many reasons to cheer as Guadalupe does.

The city has just completed a $4.75 million redesign and construction of a wastewater treatment plant that had given its operators and administrators years of headaches, and performed poorly enough to earn the city the attention of the Regional Water Quality Control Board.

Built in 1979 and expanded in 1992 and 2004, the facility never worked at more than two-thirds capacity and had on-going violations of its Waste Discharge Requirement permit.

The “new” system — a Biolac process — has operators, administrators and even city councilmen smiling.

“This is something I’m really excited about,” said Charlie Vasquez, plant operator, showing off the effluent produced by the system that looked nearly as clear as drinking water.

The job of the system is to clean up the city’s sewage enough so that it can be separated, with the effluent used to irrigate pasture land and solids shipped to the San Joaquin Valley to be used as fertilizer. It’s performance is measured in total suspended solids (TSS) and biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) both of which can be measured in milligrams per liter.

The maximum allowable limit for both measurements is 60 mg/L and the old treatment system averaged 66 mg/L for both measurements.

The new system is producing effluent with less than 2 mg/L of TSS and around 8 mg/L BOD.

“A 100 percent improvement is too low. There’s no comparison,” Vasquez said.

The plant’s performance has more than its operators beaming.

“It’s good that we as a city are compliant,” Guadalupe Councilman John Lizalde added after touring the plant on Thursday. “It was a hard road trying to finance it with grants. It’s good to hear

-Article originally posted in the Santa Maria Times; July 06, 2012; By Brian Bullock/Staff Writer

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