SEWAGE STUDY TO BEGIN SESSION TO EXPLORE PLANT NEEDS, SOLUTIONS.
LANCASTER - Los Angeles County officials are launching an environmental study on how to treat sewage for Lancaster as its population grows through 2020, a study a growing number of civic leaders say should not include plans for using Edwards Air Force Base property.
Los Angeles County Sanitation District 14 will meet in Lancaster on Thursday to take public comments on the scope of a planned environmental impact report on the capacity needs at its Lancaster treatment plant. The session begins at 7 p.m. in the emergency operations center at Lancaster City Hall, 44933 N. Fern Ave.
Lancaster Mayor Frank Roberts, a member of the sanitation district's board, said he has received more than three dozen letters in opposition to any use of Edwards property by the sanitation district. Lancaster City Council voted in the fall to direct Roberts to vote against any use of Edwards land.
``We will bring folks together and resist that,'' Roberts said. ``There are alternatives.''
Opponents to the project say the proposal weakens the base's ability to fend off future land grabs and that the sanitation district needs to live up to its commitments to keep effluent from coming onto base property. Proponents of the lease proposal say it would be less expensive and ultimately less costly to sewage district customers than purchasing privately owned land.
Acquiring large amounts of land would likely require going to court in eminent domain proceedings to compel owners to sell, and that would be expensive, with some preliminary estimates as high as $30 million to $40 million, according to county sanitation officials.
``I don't think we should be eliminating any options at this point,'' said Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford, who is also a board member of the sanitation district.
The sanitation district is looking at six options - two involving the purchase of private property, two involving the leasing of Edwards land, and two that would rely solely on agricultural and municipal recycling of treated effluent. All options involve some level of using recycled water on farm lands or city property like street landscaping.
The six options can be divided into two categories - those that would allow treated effluent to overflow in winter onto Edwards' Rosamond Dry Lake and those that call for no overflows.
For acquiring private property, the sanitation district is looking at two possible locations - one immediately south of Edwards, bordered by avenues D and G, and 50 and 100 streets east, and one roughly bounded by Avenue E and Avenue A, and 70th and 45 streets west.
Depending on the extent of authorized winter overflows, storage ponds would cover 510 to 1,070 acres.
Each reservoir will have an area of approximately 40 acres and a water depth of about 10 feet. Reservoirs will either be lined with compacted clay or a synthetic liner.
If no overflows are authorized, the district would need to acquire or lease 1,070 acres.
Depending on the option selected, the district will need to acquire between 2,430 acres and 7,220 acres of land for agricultural operations.
Sanitation District 14 is facing a 2005 deadline from state water regulators to stop the overflow of treated effluent from the Lancaster sewage treatment plant onto Rosamond Dry Lake.
Sanitation representatives are talking with Air Force officials about the possibility of leasing four square miles of vacant land on the base's southwest corner.
Any such lease agreement would require approval from the Pentagon and the sanitation district's three-member board of directors.
The occasional effluent overflows onto the dry lake bed are a symptom of a greater problem: the district's need for additional capacity to handle the region's projected growth.
The Lancaster plant has the capacity to handle about 12 million gallons of sewage a day, but will need to handle 22.2 million to 25.7 million gallons per day by 2020 to deal with anticipated population growth.
District officials said the Edwards land, if they were to lease it, would not be enough, and that the ultimate solution will be a plan that includes agricultural use and municipal recycling.
Lancaster officials are working on a proposal initially to use 1.5 million gallons of recycled water to irrigate street median landscaping.