Construction Begins on DBOF Water Recycling Facility

On July 15, construction began on a new state-of-the-art 3.4 million gallons per day (mgd) water recycling facility, readily expandable to 4.2 mgd to replace Santa Paula, Calif.'s existing wastewater treatment plant built in 1939.

The city chose Santa Paula Water LLC, a company formed by Pacific Environmental Resources Corp. and Alinda Capital Partners LLC, to design, build, operate, and finance (DBOF) the plant in May. Santa Paula Water expects operations to commence by Dec. 15, 2010.

PERC will operate the new facility under a 30-year concession with Santa Paula Water. This will be the first facility of its type to be built under California's new regulations encouraging private investment to solve public infrastructure needs.

Brian Cullen, president of PERC, believes the city of Santa Paula's decision to accept PERC's offer "came down to two things: the certainty of Alinda's project financing and the fact that PERC had a superior technical offering. The offer does not require a commitment for capital on the part of the city and is essentially a pay-for-service arrangement."

The new plant will use advanced treatment process technologies -- incorporating membrane bioreactors, aerobic sludge digestion, and ultraviolet disinfection -- that will produce an effluent that meets or exceeds all current environmental wastewater quality standards mandated by the U.S. EPA and the California Regional Water Quality Control Board Title 22 Class A+.

The facility, the exterior of which will resemble a golf course clubhouse, will be completely enclosed for maximum odor control.

Chris Beale, managing partner of Alinda, said, "This project is groundbreaking from a financial point of view. The private sector will put up all the capital and take the risk of compliance with environmental regulations. It will provide ratepayers with a low-cost solution, and it relieves the city of financial risk. We expect this model to be followed by other communities that see the future in converting wastewater liability to a clean water asset."

The city has reserved the right to acquire the facility during the life of the concession and, if it not acquired sooner, the facility will be transferred to the city at the end of the concession period.

In a community effort, the facility will have a dedicated area known as the Recycling Educational Center. There, the citizens of Santa Paula and students of local schools can learn how water is treated to recycling levels and how water recycling facilities operate.

The Santa Paula Facility will be PERC's largest facility designed, built, operated, and financed in California for a municipality. It will also be the first PERC ASP MBR, and Koch Industries first and largest U.S. facility to use the Puron Membrane System.

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