Consider Sewage Treatment Options

Tidings 3/31/2021

I’m trying to find out why there has been no cost-benefit analysis of abandoning the Ashland wastewater treatment plant and hooking into Rogue Valley Sewer Services. This is critical to get our financial house in order. Wastewater treatment is one of the largest items in the budget by far.

According to the biennial 2019-’21 budget, the Wastewater Division accounts for over $6 million a year just to operate. That figure does not include debt service or capital outlay, just personnel, materials/services, and central services.

The current capital improvement plan calls for over $13 million in outlays over the next six years.  Just those two items will cost the city about $50 million over the next six years, not accounting for inflation of costs and unanticipated maintenance items.

The only off-the-cuff estimate of hooking up I’ve heard was maybe $35 million. Even if that’s way low and it’s $50 million, it’s a wash after six years.  Of course we have to find out the usage charges.

And this is just the financials. We would also stop dumping hot water into Bear Creek. We would not have to jump through hoops trying to deal with DEQ, EPA, etc.

What I’m saying is that it’s essential that we investigate the possibility that it might be worth doing. Consider the WWTP a mistake, a sunk cost. Perhaps the facility could be reutilized as some kind of benefit for the community.

And it’s essential that we do it right away, before public works starts throwing money at the upgrades to the current WWTP, which are scheduled to begin this year as preventative maintenance. If those proactive maintenance items can be postponed until they are necessary, perhaps we can avoid them altogether, or many of them.  It seems obvious to me that we must investigate this option now.

How can we make this happen?

Dean Silver – Ashland

Consider Sewage Treatment Options