By CLARK MASON
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Healdsburg’s plan to use its highly treated wastewater for irrigation rather than discharge it into the Russian River took a step forward Monday with the
budgeting of $1 million to build part of a pipeline network.
The City Council approved a $857,000 contract, plus contingencies for cost overruns, to build a 500-foot pipeline over Dry Creek. It will be part of a system that eventually will use highly treated effluent to irrigate Tayman Golf Course, parks, open space and vineyards.
“It’s exciting. We’re moving forward,” City Councilman Gary Plass said. “Anything we can do on reclaimed water . . . is a good thing.”
The city also intends to use the crossing to connect to Santa Rosa’s Geysers pipeline, which runs though Healdsburg. The system uses recycled water from Santa Rosa’s regional sewer treatment system to generate electricity at The Geysers geothermal field.
Healdsburg is under orders from the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board to end by 2015 its wastewater discharges into the river during the dry months of May through September.
The city now discharges the recycled water year-round from its treatment plant on Foreman Lane into a pond, which in turn flows into the Russian River.
Healdsburg is proceeding with a wastewater irrigation system along with The Geysers option.
“We want to have the flexibility to be compliant with the regional board’s orders. Having the opportunity to connect and discharge to The Geysers gives us that flexibility,” Public Works Director Mike Kirn said.
At The Geysers, wastewater is injected deep into the ground where it is converted to steam that spins above-ground turbine generators to create electricity.
Kirn said Healdsburg has been negotiating with Santa Rosa for about four months on what it will cost the city to join the Santa Rosa pipeline, as well as the quantity of water Healdsburg would contribute. Other technical issues, such as pump reliability and remote access to the system through telemetry, also need to be resolved, he said.
The pipeline over Dry Creek is needed for both The Geysers connection and the city’s separate irrigation system.
Originally, the city planned to put the pipeline under the creek, but that was rejected because of environmental concerns and unstable geology, Kirn said.
Now, the pipeline will go over the creek.
“It will basically look like a mini-Golden Gate Bridge,” Kirn said of the 12-inch-diameter pipeline suspended by cables stretched between 46-foot tall towers.
The construction, expected to be completed by July, will be done by MJ Hughes Inc. of Gresham, Ore., which was the low bidder among a half-dozen companies. The pipeline will be connected to The Geysers or irrigation system later.
City officials say it will be part of a $9 million first phase of the reclaimed water irrigation system, expected to be completed in about two years.
A second $6 million to $7 million expansion of the irrigation system will follow, although the timing is less certain, Kirn said.
Some of the costs will be subsidized by low-interest loans and a grant from the U.S. Agriculture Department.
Sewer rates already have been increased to help pay for the system, helping to boost the average water and sewer bill in Healdsburg to the highest of any Sonoma County city.
More rate increases are planned to go into effect this July and July 2014, Kirn said.
You can reach Staff Writer Clark Mason at 521-5214 or firstname.lastname@example.org.