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RMWD Seeks Fee Study for Santa Maria Wastewater Plant Upgrades

The mandatory updates could reduce customer fees, says General Manager David Barnum.

The Ramona Municipal Water District is seeking a fee study for the Santa Maria Wastewater Reclamation Plant improvements that may help reduce customer mitigation and sewer connection fees in the future, according to General Manager David Barnum.

"We hope that by having less storm water to be treated and by having reduced costs of these improvements, that the fee study may have a favorable impact or possibility to reduce some of the fees that are currently being charged at the Santa Maria facility," Barnum said.

The fee study is the third phase of a long term master plan for Ramona's Santa Maria Wastewater Reclamation Plant. A third party expert would conduct the study to look at the costs of the plant's needed upgrades and set up a financing option.

"They look at the cost and they proportion it accordingly," Barnum said. "There's an element to the cost that has to do with what rates you might have to charge in the future."

Barnum said the fee study will also provide a timeline that gives the water district notice of when they would, if at all, have to borrow money for projects.

"What might actually happen is the fees may go down," Barnum said.

At its Jan. 8 meeting, the water board authorized the district to start the third phase of the plant's master plan and gave Barnum the go-ahead to solicit proposals from qualified third party consultants to conduct the fee study.

The fee study shouldn't cost more than $20,000, a number Barnum said wouldn't affect the current customer's rates.

Barnum told Patch the fee study could take three to six months to conduct.

Total capital cost for the improvements at Santa Maria are approximately $16.5 million.

"Staff here was able to basically cut the costs of the total anticipated work at Santa Maria by close to half," Barnum said of the $16 million figure.

The treatment plant master plan includes, but is not limited to:

  • installation of a secondary clarifier
  • effluent transmission pipeline replacement
  • spray field improvements
  • wet weather storage pond
  • valve replacements
  • and more

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