Placer County partners with Army Corps on potential wastewater solution for region

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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With a few strokes of a shared pen, Placer County and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are signed on as partners in moving a regional wastewater treatment project forward. Auburn-area Supervisor Jim Holmes, chairman of the county board, and Lt. Col. James Porter, the corps deputy engineer for the Sacramento district, inked the agreement Friday, clearing the way for as much as $21.3 million more in funding to bring the project closer to reality. Initially, the agreement provides $3 million to help fund design work and some construction for a system that could replace five aged treatment plants in the county — including Auburn and North Auburn — with two modern plants. Facility Services Director Jim Durfee said the new system would have the capability to serve residents of the area for the next 100 years. The signing ceremony Friday comes four years after Congress passed an Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act establishing $40 million in funding for design and construction assistance for water and wastewater projects in Placer and El Dorado counties. El Dorado County was allocated $8 million and a third of the remaining $32 million was provided to the city of Lincoln for its reclaimed water program. The balance of $21.3 million is authorized for use by Placer County in efforts to design and construct the regional solution to long-term wastewater. Preliminary cost estimates by the county have placed the price for the system at more than $200 million, with a best-case scenario seeing work completed in 2013. Holmes said U.S. Rep. John Doolittle, R-Roseville, should be thanked for the hard work he has done while in office over the past 18 years to support the project with federal funding. “We hope working with you will bring this project to fruition,” Holmes said. Porter also recognized Doolittle and his staff’s work to push through funding authorization for the project, particularly an EPA project grant of $5.1 million and the $21.3 million in funding for studies and construction. “Without their efforts we wouldn’t be where we are today,” Porter said. Auburn City Councilman Mike Holmes was in the audience for the ceremony and said afterward that he was happy to see the money starting to be utilized. “I am hopeful it will benefit the city of Auburn in its quest to join with the regional wastewater treatment project,” he said. “The project is authorized but total funding is not. I’m hopeful the Congress will give consideration to moving forward with more funds because we’re under constant pressure from the state Water Quality Control Board and the EPA to upgrade.” Holmes said that he personally feels that the regional plan would be good for Auburn as long as it doesn’t require local ratepayers to pay “an extraordinary amount.” The Journal’s Gus Thomson can be reached at or comment at