Healdsburg's plan to use its highly treated wastewater for irrigation rather than discharge it into the Russian River took a step forward Monday with the budgeting of $1 million to build part of a pipeline network.
The City Council approved a $857,000 contract, plus contingencies for cost overruns, to build a 500-foot pipeline over Dry Creek. It will be part of a system that eventually will use highly treated effluent to irrigate Tayman Golf Course, parks, open space and vineyards.
"It's exciting. We're moving forward," City Councilman Gary Plass said. "Anything we can do on reclaimed water . . . is a good thing."
The city also intends to use the crossing to connect to Santa Rosa's Geysers pipeline, which runs though Healdsburg. The system uses recycled water from Santa Rosa's regional sewer treatment system to generate electricity at The Geysers geothermal field.
Healdsburg is under orders from the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board to end by 2015 its wastewater discharges into the river during the dry months of May through September.
The city now discharges the recycled water year-round from its treatment plant on Foreman Lane into a pond, which in turn flows into the Russian River.
Healdsburg is proceeding with a wastewater irrigation system along with The Geysers option.
"We want to have the flexibility to be compliant with the regional board's orders. Having the opportunity to connect and discharge to The Geysers gives us that flexibility," Public Works Director Mike Kirn said.
At The Geysers, wastewater is injected deep into the ground where it is converted to steam that spins above-ground turbine generators to create electricity.
Kirn said Healdsburg has been negotiating with Santa Rosa for about four months on what it will cost the city to join the Santa Rosa pipeline, as well as the quantity of water Healdsburg would contribute. Other technical issues, such as pump reliability and remote access to the system through telemetry, also need to be resolved, he said.