SANTA MARIA — Construction started this month on the first phase of the $53 million Laguna County Sanitation District upgrade project. The 62-year-old wastewater plant received its last upgrade in 2001 for regulatory compliance reasons but has many facilities that have exceeded their useful lives from the original construction in 1959.
Improvements to the wastewater reclamation plant include a new headworks, ultraviolet disinfection break tank, a laboratory and operations building, activated sludge and secondary clarifier process facilities, on-site stormwater facilities and electrical improvements.
Once complete, the upgraded plant will comply with Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board requirements and master recycling permits for the next 50 years. Construction is expected to finish in 2023.
The second phase of the project, which will increase the plant’s treatment capacity from 3.7 to 5 million gallons per day, is in the planning stage and is anticipated to meet future development needs associated with the build-out of the Orcutt Community Plan.
4th District Supervisor Peter Adam said, “This is a 60-year-old piece of equipment, and it’s time to get this updated. When I came into office, some people questioned why we needed a new plant. The lack of opposition today is a good indication that we convinced Orcutt ratepayers of the value of this project.”
5th District Supervisor Steve Lavagnino said, “With surface water becoming scarce and expensive, maximizing water efficiency is vital to our parks, facilities, and agriculture. Laguna Sanitation’s recycled water is an essential drought-resistant supply for our residents and visitors in the Santa Maria Valley.”
The District, which serves the Orcutt and unincorporated Santa Maria area, was formed in 1958 in response to a housing boom brought on by Camp Cook’s conversion to the Vandenberg Air Force Base. The reclamation plant is located west of the Dutard Road and Black Road intersection northwest of Orcutt.
The District also absorbed the Orcutt Sanitary District (circa the 1920s) and some of the wastewater system that historically was treated by the Santa Maria-Lompoc Air Base (now the Santa Maria Public Airport) treatment plant disbanded in 1977.
Today, the District treats 1.8 million gallons of wastewater per day and maintains 128 miles of pipeline. It serves a population of approximately 35,000 with nearly 12,000 residential and business customers. All water recycled at the plant is used for irrigation and industrial purposes. Once complete, it will also serve the Northern Branch Jail.
The W.M. Lyles Company will construct the project. Utility service charges were adjusted over several years to generate capital reserves to fund most of the work and assist in qualifying for lower interest rates on a Certificate of Participation.
For more information on the District, visit www.countyofsb.org/pwd/laguna.sbc.