A taxing drought has brought new urgency to a 10-year-old promise to reduce Sacramento’s water consumption by 20 million gallons by 2024.
The Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District, which treats the area’s wastewater, plans to build a 6-mile pipeline by 2016 to deliver treated, recycled effluent to the cooling station of a south Sacramento power plant. The plant, at the site of the former Campbell’s Soup factory that closed last year, is now using potable water for its cooling needs, while current treated effluent goes into the Sacramento River.
According to the district’s lead engineer, Prabhakar Somavarapu, the pipeline will be large enough to eventually use treated wastewater for the community’s landscaping and irrigation needs, as well. A district report says state grants will provide about $3.6 million for the pipeline project, with the district on the hook for the remaining $12 million.
The pipeline must still be approved by the district’s board of directors and is just one of two projects that the district has planned. The second is at least eight years away, and aims to eliminate farmers’ groundwater usage by providing them with 40 million gallons of water per day.
Groundwater depletion, an issue of growing concern among environmentalists, is causing the Earth’s surface to sink in places as underground reservoirs are used up. This is also causing surface streams that once flowed year-round to disappear in the summer months.
“By sending the farmers water, that will allow the groundwater reservoirs to fill back up,” Somavarapu said. “But that’s still a future project.”
An environmental-impact report studying the pipeline’s impacts has been released. The public has until August 27 to comment on it. If approved, construction of the pipeline could begin next summer.