Currently every drop of water that comes out of faucets in Ceres comes straight out of the ground. But come June 2023, some of that water will be directly piped from the Tuolumne River after it’s been treated.
Construction is about 25 percent completed and running $1 million under budget, a manager of the project told the Ceres City Council on Monday evening.
Bob Granberg, general manager of the Stanislaus Regional Water Authority (SRWA), a joint powers authority to allow the cities of Ceres and Turlock to buy water from Turlock Irrigation District and operate the plant to treat and deliver water at cost, gave the update.
“We continue to find ways to reduce the cost of the project and make the project more efficient in operation,” said Granberg.
Both cities have enacted a series of rate increases in city water rates to pay for the $220 million plant. Granberg said that the JPA borrowed $184.9 million for the plant after receiving $35 million in grant funds. Borrowing from the State Revolving Fund at 1.2 percent interest rate has saved the project $100 million it would have incurred through municipal bond financing, he noted.
Based on water needs of their populations, Ceres will pay roughly a third of the cost, or $61.6 million, while Turlock is responsible for two-thirds, or $123.3 million. The annual debt service for Ceres is $2.5 million over 30 years and approximately $1.7 million for operations and maintenance depending on staff, electrical and chemical costs.
Ceres will ultimately receive up to 15 million gallons of water per day while Turlock takes 30 million gallons. Two additional phases will increase the plant’s capacity to produce 45 million gallons per day for the two cities.
The surface water plant has been in discussion for 30 years.
The SRWA is its own separate public entity with its own board with both cities having representatives.
“The leadership of the cities has to be commended for moving this project forward after decades of planning and decision and non-decisions and reverses decisions,” said Granberg.
The surface water system is deemed key for Ceres and Turlock to have a guaranteed source of good clean water. As water quality regulations tighten, it’s harder for groundwater alone to meet standards without expensive treatment.
Granberg noted that the plant will be an environmental benefit for fish upstream as more water is released from Don Pedro Dam downstream to accommodate what is drawn into the plant at Fox Grove. Ceres is currently relying on 13 wells with the 14th one being constructed near the Clinton Whitmore Mansion property. Public Works Director Jeremy Damas said the city will still use groundwater conjunctively with river water, especially in the summer, noting that in the summer peak use of 11 million gallons per day while the plant will only supply up to 5 million gallons. He estimated about 75 percent of the water consumed in winter time will be treated river water.
Granberg said that…
Read more:: Surface water plant operational by June 2023?