Turning Planada's waste into farmer's water

PLANADA, Calif. (KFSN) -- A new wastewater treatment plant in the North Valley will soon help clean up the community and create irrigation water to help combat the drought.

The Planada Community Services District broke ground on a project it's been planning for more than a decade.

In the video, you'll see the creek where Planada's treated wastewater has ended up for years. But it doesn't meet current state standards -- and was even blamed for killing fish. So the community services district was told to make a change or face steep fines.

Planada CSD District Manager, Daniel Chavez, said, "There was violations, and we knew we had to go through a new project."

Now, 12 years later, this small rural farming community is celebrating the start of a major upgrade. Local leaders held a groundbreaking ceremony along with the state and federal partners that are helping to fund the $13.5 million project.

Anita Lopez with USDA Rural Development said, "It's really taken a lot of perseverance and determination by the board and the community to see this project all the way through."

The district bought more than 100 acres of land to expand its current aeration plant and add infrastructure. The new system will allow the treated wastewater to be used for irrigation, instead of sending it to the creek.

Chavez said, "We have a farmer we're leasing the land to, he's growing alfalfa, and he can grow other crops that are non-human consumable."

A Valley-based company has already started the excavation work and believes this project could be a model for others, especially during the drought.

Residents will have to pay an extra $1.50 a month for their water and sewer services, but officials believe it's a worthwhile investment.

Chavez added, "The community, their needs will be met for years to come."

The project is expected to be complete in the next 18 months.

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