McFarland Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrades Establish Safety and Efficiency in Agricultural Community


The City of McFarland, touted as the “heartbeat of agriculture”, is nestled in the southern San Joaquin Valley of Kern County. Graced with almost year-round days of warm sunlight, the City thrives on an enterprise of cotton, sugar beets, potatoes, and roses. A citrus processing plant, almond hulling facility, and vineyards also stimulate the area’s economy. Amidst this abundant agrarian culture, the City operates a wastewater collection, treatment, and disposal facility for their residents and small industry.

As the on call Municipal Waste Water Engineer for McFarland, Cannon has been involved in several projects surrounding the WWTP. Recently the City chose to convert 160 acres of land previously utilized for vineyards into feed and fodder farming. The decision stemmed from a need to comply with regulations that disallowed the use of secondary non-disinfected effluent on vineyards. Cannon provided professional services in four progressive phases: vineyard removal RFP development and coordination, pump station and irrigation pipeline design, bidding services, and construction services.

One of Cannon’s most prominent achievements for the McFarland project was the completion of the WWTP’s 20-year master plan. The document presented plans which altered the existing aerated lagoon system into an extended aeration activated sludge plant with biological nutrient removal. The plan estimated approximately $10 million in project costs, which The City requested phased over a 7 year program starting with construction of the headworks and the aeration basin for the activated sludge plant. The headworks facility design will include an influent parshall flume, mechanical bar screen, and a lift pump station for establishing hydraulics through the plant.