After years of uncertainty, the Hercules City Council is expected to make a decision on wastewater at Tuesday’s council meeting.
City staff are recommending that the city stay with the shared Hercules-Pinole Treatment Plant and commit to state-mandated plant upgrades. The alternative is switching to the West County Wastewater District, a far more expensive plan that past city administrations have seriously considered during the last four years or so.
City officials say the decision will come down to dollars and cents. Staying with Pinole would cost Hercules $23 million for treatment plant upgrades costs.
Moving to the West County district would cost about $56 million and would require the city to secure 8.5 miles of right-of-way for a raw sewage pipeline, Municipal Finance Director John Stier said at a recent Town Hall meeting. Hercules has already spent about $3.5 million in engineering costs related to the potential West County move.
Both Stier and Pinole Public Works Director Dean Allison spoke about the Hercules-Pinole wastewater dilemma at the Town Hall.
Currently, he wastewater from both cities is treated at a plant located in Pinole. It’s then pumped through a 24-inch-diameter pipeline that runs through Hercules to Rodeo, where the treated wateswater is released deep into the bay.
The Hercules-Pinole wastewater treatment plant treats an average of 3.2 million gallons of water per day in dry weather. On wet-weather days, up to 22 million gallons of water can move through the facility. Since the plant has a maximum treatment capacity of 10.2 million gallons per day, millions of gallons of excess water end up being released into the shallow part of the bay in wet weather.
That excess flow has caused the regional water quality control board to require that the Hercules-Pinole plant be upgraded, Allison said at the Town Hall meeting.
Allston said the primary reasons to upgrade the plant are to to increase capacity for wet-weather days and, secondarily, to accommodate future growth in Hercules.
“We have to increase our capacity with the plant and increase our capacity with the pipe(line),” Allison said.
Plant upgrades must be completed by 2015 if Hercules chooses to stay with the joint Pinole-Hercules. It will take two years to design and three years to build the upgraded plant, Allison said.
"We really should have been under design by November, 2010,” Allison said. “We’re under the gun to make a decision, and the sooner we get a decision made, the better for our plant."
The Hercules City Council must to adopt a resolution committing to a wastewater plan before moving forward with either the plant upgrades or the move to the West County district.