Con­sul­tant to aid RCSD with treat­ment plant

Antelope Valley Press - - FRONT PAGE - By AL­LI­SON GATLIN Val­ley Press Staff Writer

ROSA­MOND — The Rosa­mond Com­mu­nity Ser­vices District has hired a con­sul­tant to en­sure its waste­water treat­ment plant ex­pan­sion and re­vamp is oper­a­tionally sound and to set and pro­ce­dures to meet reg­u­la­tory re­quire­ments.

The Board of Direc­tors on Wed­nes­day unan­i­mously ap­proved two con­tracts with Bak­ers­field-based Aqua Op­er­a­tions.

The first con­tract, for $21,535, is to re­view the con­struc­tion from an op­er­a­tional stand­point to avoid or ad­dress any prob­lems that might im­pede op­er­a­tions once the plant is up and run­ning, “and head them off be­fore we get to the end,” Gen­eral Man­ager Steve Perez said.

With a spe­cialty in plant op­er­a­tions, con­sul­tant Michael Popichak, Jr., Aqua Op­er­a­tions pres­i­dent and chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer, can

iden­tify is­sues that the plant’s de­sign­ing en­gi­neer may not have con­sid­ered.

“I don’t have any prob­lem pick­ing on en­gi­neers,” he said. “They can de­sign, but they don’t op­er­ate. We have to make those screw-ups work.”

“We’re go­ing to give you that over­sight,” Popichak said. “We’re just an­other set of eyes from an op­er­a­tional point of view.”

The sec­ond con­tract, for a max­i­mum of $17,800, is to over­see de­vel­op­ment plans and pro­ce­dures to meet the reg­u­la­tory re­quire­ments set by the La­hon­tan Re­gional Wa­ter Qual­ity Con­trol Board and the state’s Depart­ment of Wa­ter Re­sources.

Board Pres­i­dent Greg Wood asked Popichak to eval­u­ate the en­tire plant sys­tem as part of the con­tracted work to pro­vide any rec­om­men­da­tions for im­prove­ments that may al­low it to per­form bet­ter.

Popichak said that eval­u­a­tion would be part of the re­view, with rec­om­men­da­tions made to Perez.

“I’ve also learned that we’re not go­ing to get per­fect,” he said. “It doesn’t mean we’re not go­ing to make progress and try to im­prove things.”

The to­tal cost for the two con­tracts, $39,335, is in­cluded in the over­all $15 mil­lion bud­get for the waste­water treat­ment plant project, ac­cord­ing to the staff re­port.

Popichak is fa­mil­iar with the District, work­ing on train­ing per­son­nel with them in the past. He has 51 years’ ex­pe­ri­ence in the field and has worked with nu­mer­ous plants as they start op­er­a­tions, he said.

The re­vamped and ex­panded plant is ex­pected to open in spring 2021 with a new name — The Rosa­mond CSD Wa­ter Recla­ma­tion Plant — to bet­ter de­scribe its ul­ti­mate pur­pose.

In ad­di­tion to han­dling the com­mu­nity’s waste­water dis­posal, the plant will recharge the un­der­ly­ing ground­wa­ter basin, pro­vid­ing ad­di­tional ground­wa­ter for the District to pump.

The waste­water treat­ment plant project was de­vel­oped as a means of ad­dress­ing more than one is­sue fac­ing the District.

The District has been un­der an or­der from the La­hon­tan Re­gional Wa­ter Qual­ity Con­trol Board since Novem­ber 2015 to re­duce ex­cess ni­trates seep­ing into the ground­wa­ter from wa­ter treated to a sec­ondary level at the waste­water treat­ment plant. The treated wa­ter is cur­rently sent to eva­po­ra­tion ponds on-site, which have been found to be leak­ing.

An op­tion to re­line the ponds was deemed to be too costly and this al­ter­na­tive was de­vel­oped.

This project will take the sec­ondary-treated ef­flu­ent, run it through the some­what mod­i­fied ter­tiary treat­ment equip­ment to re­move ni­trates, then per­co­late the re­sult­ing wa­ter into the ground.

This is in­tended to not only re­solve the ni­trate con­tam­i­na­tion prob­lem with the reg­u­la­tors, but also recharge the aquifer, al­low­ing the district to pump more ground­wa­ter.

The project calls for in­creas­ing the higher-level treat­ment ca­pac­ity of the plant from the 500,000 gal­lons per day to 1.27 mil­lion.

Once it is fully op­er­a­tional, the ex­ist­ing eva­po­ra­tion ponds will be cleaned of the “sludge” left be­hind and aban­doned.

Three new per­co­la­tion ponds, where the treated wa­ter will be al­lowed to soak into the ground, will be built as part of the project.

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF ROSA­MOND COM­MU­NITY SER­VICES DISTRICT

The Rosa­mond Com­mu­nity Ser­vices District has con­tracted with an out­side con­sul­tant to en­sure its waste­water treat­ment plant ex­pan­sion and re­vamp is oper­a­tionally sound and to set and pro­ce­dures to meet reg­u­la­tory re­quire­ments. The $15 mil­lion project at the plant, shown here, will not only clean waste­water and re­move ni­trates, but also help re­plen­ish ground­wa­ter.

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