Friday, June 5, 2020     Volume: 21, Issue: 14

Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on January 7th, 2020, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 20, Issue 45 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 20, Issue 45

Solvang wastewater treatment plan still waiting on Santa Ynez

By William D'Urso

The Solvang City Council is still shopping for ways to cut costs for management of its wastewater treatment plant as plans for a new facility inch along.

The city is looking to upgrade its wastewater system, but Solvang’s 6,000 people would be on the hook for a $16 million facility if it moves forward with building a new treatment plant. Looking for alternatives, Solvang sent a proposal to the Santa Ynez Community Services District in August 2019 that outlined what things might look like if the CSD took over management of the city’s wastewater system instead. That proposal included managing Solvang’s 400 connections, 169,000 linear feet of sewer line, and the various waste policies that Solvang wants observed.

“I think the council’s direction was to see if there were cheaper ways to be more regional and combine the costs,” said Xenia Bradford, Solvang’s city manager.

The Santa Ynez CSD called a special session in August 2019 to figure out if it wanted any part of this plan. The CSD’s board chose to continue evaluating the proposal and how it could affect future operations. 

At the time, CSD General Manager Jeff Hodge said the more important thing was to open up dialogue with Solvang about the possibilities. If the CSD and Hodge took over the reins of Solvang’s wastewater treatment, that would mean more than doubling the territory it now manages. The unincorporated area the CSD manages includes 800 connections, fewer than half of what Solvang has. 

The CSD already has experience managing other wastewater treatment facilities, as it took stewardship of the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians’ plant when it was built 15 years ago.

Bradford said Solvang’s proposal is still being clarified, and the needs and wishes of both parties are still coming into focus. Bradford said that she suspects that the proposal will include a consolidation of staff between the city’s wastewater facility and the CSD, a first step in most cost-saving endeavors. But it’s still unclear how a change in management could save Solvang money.

“That’s the analytical piece we haven’t gotten through yet because we haven’t gotten a proposal from the district yet that shows the tangible financial side of it,” Bradford said.

Solvang is also in the process of taking bids for an overhaul of its treatment facility. Bradford thinks the city could select a firm to draw up plans in a month with approval of the plan possibly coming by the end of the year.

—William D’Urso

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