Council hears public concerns, wastewater treatment report

Lauren Steinheimer
Members of Mount Shasta City Council and staff posed for a lighthearted holiday photo before diving in to hours of discussion regarding the wastewater treatment plant and Crystal Geyser.

Mount Shasta City Council heard many comments about Crystal Geyser, some related to an informational presentation on the city’s wastewater treatment plant upgrade during Monday night’s regular meeting.

Council also received reviews from the farmers’ market management team on the past season as well as from city staff on Mount Shasta’s emergency and snow removal plans.

A special meeting was held prior to the regular meeting to interview candidates interested in serving on the city’s committees.

Wastewater plant

Paul Reuter of PACE Engineering gave a presentation on the state mandated wastewater treatment plant improvement project. He explained the current lagoon-based wastewater treatment system originally constructed in 1976 is inadequate for removing solids and nitrogen.

He said the upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant will replace the chlorine disinfection process with UV and the upgrades are necessary for Mount Shasta to comply with California’s waste discharge requirements for removing copper and zinc by the 2017 deadline.

Reuter said the improvement design doesn’t include considerations for serving the Crystal Geyser bottling plant. He said the wastewater treatment plant might need to be expanded in the future depending on the city’s receipt of an industrial waste discharge application from Crystal Geyser.

He explained that the improvements include two separate but related projects. The state mandated improvements include primary and secondary clarification. The tertiary filtration and UV disinfection improvements are funded by the $3 million EDA grant and therefore treated as a separate project.

The initial study for the upgrade considers the entire project. Council member Geoff Harkness asked if it is possible to request a full EIR through this environmental assessment.

“An EIR has to address a specific project,” answered ENPLAN scientist Don Burke. “We don’t have a project definition at this point. We don’t know what’s going to be in the wastewater. Right now, there’s a lot of rumor about what may happen, but without an application in front of you, there is no project.”

Mayor Jeffrey Collings pointed out the presentation was coordinated to better inform the public and was not required of the city.

A notice of intent to adopt a mitigated negative declaration for the wastewater treatment project was posted on Nov. 23. The comment period is open until Jan. 8 and a public hearing will be held Feb. 8.

Collings encouraged the public to submit written questions and concerns for council to consider. The public information presentation addressed some of the more frequently asked questions submitted by citizens.

Slides from Reuter’s presentation, including frequently asked questions, are included in the most recent agenda packet available at:

Roslyn McCoy asked why the upgraded treatment plant will require more frequent sludge removal, “up to once every three days,” according to the initial study.

Reuter said the lagoon system allows sludge to break down over time, so the buildup rarely needs to be removed. The upgrades include an activated sludge treatment that takes about 30 days. Once treatment is complete, Reuter said most cities remove water from the sludge and then send it to a landfill. He said the increased cost will be passed along to the ratepayers, adding that the costly improvements to the wastewater facility are necessary for the city to meet the new state requirements by 2017.

Council member Tim Stearns said McCloud is utilizing worms to break down sludge and suggested Mount Shasta investigate this “worm factory” option. Collings and council member Michael Burns volunteered to form a committee focused on that.

The audience was packed with concerned citizens who took full advantage of both the general public comment period and the comment period relating to this specific agenda item to direct council’s attention to a variety of issues related to Crystal Geyser.

Emergencies and snow

Police Chief Parish Cross presented a review of the city’s emergency response process. He covered the chain of command in handling critical incidents and explained the training programs city staff participates in on a regular basis to prepare for emergencies.

Public Works Director Rod Bryan reviewed the city’s plan for snow removal. He said an information packet goes out to the public every year to remind residents of the city’s policies. The city starts to plow when snow accumulation reaches about four inches. Vehicles must be parked in driveways or in spaces designated for parking during snow removal. There are signs posted in all locations where a vehicle will be towed if left there during snow removal conditions.

Farmers’ Market

Mount Shasta Farmers’ Market management team members Nancy Swift, Phoenix Lawhon Isler, Kirsten Olson and John Tannaci thanked the city for its support and presented a review of the 2015 season.

Highlights from the year included the largest number of vendors, a record number of farmers, the longest season to date, participation in the market match program, creation of two seasonal jobs for market management and grant support to assist with the transition of ownership to JEDI.

Swift requested the city’s assistance in further expanding the market and possibly using Parker Plaza.

Committee applicants

Committee candidates were introduced to council during the special meeting.

Afa Garrigan applied to sit on the downtown enhancement advisory committee. Garrigan is relatively new in town, but has already impressed council members. They praised him on his diligent attendance and thought provoking input at city council meetings and expressed appreciation for his enthusiasm when regularly participating in city events.

Evelyn Callas and Belinda Higuera both chose to re-apply for positions on the library tax advisory committee and the planning commission, respectively.

Barbara Wagner applied for a new position on the library tax advisory committee and re-applied to the planning commission. She said she wants to ask the library to re-visit their mission and look at what their function is in the community.

Committee appointments are scheduled to made during the council’s January meeting.