San Joaquin River DOTMDL -- Technical Working Group

'Sewerwood Forest' in Manteca's future?

Manteca Bulletin - August 15, 2005
By Dennis Wyatt

'Sewerwood Forest' in Manteca's future?

Manteca Bulletin
By Dennis Wyatt, Managing editor of the Bulletin

Recycled water may grow willow trees

When the world gives you treated recycled wastewater make urban forests.

Manteca Mayor Willie Weatherford contends pending state guidelines that will make it virtually cost prohibitive in coming years to return treated wastewater no matter how clean it is to the San Joaquin River provides a golden opportunity for Manteca to cut costs, improve the environment, upgrade Manteca's image, and beautify the city at the same time.

"It makes a lot of sense and solves a lot of problems," the mayor said.

The wastewater treatment plant's close proximity to the 30-acre Big League Dreams sports complex -- they're right next door to each other -- makes it extremely easy to use recycled water for the fields and other landscaping just like Palm Springs does on its numerous golf courses.

The same "purple pipe" that carries treated recycled wastewater to BLD will help fill a five-acre lake with a water feature along the Highway 120 Bypass. It will serve as the focal point for the 400,000-square-foot Stadium Retail Center that will be anchored by Kohl's Department Store. Four sit-down restaurants will offer dining on the water's edge. The recycled wastewater also will supply fountains just off Airport Way at the extension of Daniels Street that leads to the retail center and BLD as well as water features in the sports complex itself. Weatherford wants to extend that purple pipe system and take what he believes is the next logical step is to create urban forests and turn the city's most prominent feature -- the Highway 120 Bypass corridor -- from a brown, weed-infested wasteland into a green oasis.

The mayor said the first project should be to create a small urban forest of willows intermixed with other suitable trees to block view of the site of the wastewater treatment plant from the sports complex. The new plant's design will employ bubble covers and other steps to eliminate odor. But except for some landscaping along Yosemite Avenue, there is no plan to block the visual site lines from nearby property targeted for recreation, retail, light industrial, and residential use.

"A mature willow needs 50 gallons of water a day," said Weatherford noting flood irrigation would accomplish that need inexpensively. "It (the urban forest) would consume much more water than alfalfa fields that we currently use some of the recycled wastewater on."

If an acre can accommodate 100 willow trees, it would consume 5,000 gallons of treated wastewater of the equivalent of nearly 18 homes based on Manteca's average household generation of wastewater of 280 gallons per day.

Weatherford's ultimate goal is to convert 200 acres in southwest Manteca that is the only part of the city in the 100-year flood plain into a massive urban forest. In theory, that 200 acres would be able to use the recycled wastewater from 3,600 homes or almost a fifth of Manteca's existing housing stock.

The wastewater treatment plant property could be ringed with a shallow urban forest. The Highway 120 Bypass would require appropriate shrubbery that consumes a lot of water and is low maintenance along both sides between McKinley Avenue and the Highway 99 interchange.

The urban forests and landscaping would eliminate the need for even more costly processing to return it to the river or the ground. Treatment levels in the new plant expansion will make the water virtually drinkable.

The state is moving to a point, however, that they want no treated wastewater returned to the Delta.

Weatherford said planning now and putting such a system in place starting with the willow screen for BLD and around the wastewater treatment plant will start saving Manteca money and avoid major problems in the future.

"(Congressman) Richard Pombo has expressed interest in finding federal help as an environmental project," Weatherford said.

Manteca's leaders have already identified landscaping the bypass as a possible use of future redevelopment agency funds. #

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