CCWD might flush service

May 29, 2003 12:00 am

By SUNNY LOCKWOOD

Calaveras County Water District is debating whether to continue providing wastewater services.

District directors discussed the issue during yesterday's board meeting, bringing up costs and the slim possibility of getting any help from the state.

Originally chartered in 1946 to protect the county's water, the district is responsible for a hodgepodge of small sewer systems scattered around the county.

"Costs of operating these systems are high, and will go higher when future regulations are fully implemented," said Fred Burnett, CCWD operations and maintenance superintendent.

"There doesn't seem to be any financial relief in site from federal or state sources, because the regulators view affordable rates as anything less than $80 per month," he said.

CCWD has 13 wastewater sites in the county, he said, and operates 12 sewer permits.

Maintenance and water testing standards are higher than ever before. Burnett also said sewer facilities require more staff than water systems, and as regulations grow more stringent, staffing requirements and costs for storage and disposal will continue to increase.

Board members discussed four options:

• Continuing to operate as CCWD does now

• Forming a separate wastewater business with a separate board of directors

• Continuing to operate and maintain CCWD's existing wastewater service areas but adding no new ones

• Divesting itself of wastewater services until it is no longer in the business

"Any of these options is an enormous task," Board President Jeff Davidson said. We're on the hook right now for 20,000 sewer connections (in the county). We've already committed to that."

Directors Don Deem and Leroy Fonceca said they'd like to explore the possibility of some other agency taking over the wastewater business.