Rohnert Park to take casino sewage

The Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria casino resort next to Rohnert Park will be connected to the city's sewer system under a deal approved by the City Council Tuesday.

"It is the environmentally superior alternative," Mayor Jake Mackenzie said of the plan, which means the tribe will not build its own wastewater treatment plant or dispose of treated water on its Wilfred Avenue reservation.

But residents criticized the arrangement, saying it was put together too quickly and adopted without enough thought.

"It is going too fast," said Eunice Edgington.

The agreement, approved 4-0 by the council, is designed to protect the city's groundwater supplies and guard against other impacts, such as "objectionable odors" from wastewater treatment on the site, said city officials, who proposed it to the tribe.

"We're trying to provide an alternative that has the least environmental impact," said City Engineer Darrin Jenkins. The plan brings to bear one of the limited means available to the city of minimizing the project's impacts, he said.

The alternative, said he and City Manager Gabe Gonzalez, was a wastewater treatment plant directly adjacent to Rohnert Park over which the city had no control. The tribe, as a sovereign nation, is largely exempt from local and state regulations.

The federal government's 2010 approval of the project explicitly outlines the tribe's options as including either connecting to the city's sewer lines or building its own facility.

Also, a revenue-sharing contract the city and tribe negotiated in 2003 provided for the possibility of a connection to the city and sub-regional system.

The tribe plans a 3,000-slot machine, 317,750 square foot casino complex and, at a later date, a 200-room hotel on 66 acres of its 254-acre reservation just south of Home Depot.

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