Commission gets ‘first look’ at water sewer master plans

OCEANSIDE — On Tuesday the Utilities Commission shared their feedback on Oceanside’s 2,000 page Water, Sewer and Recycled Water Master Plans that will keep water flowing for the next 30 years and beyond.

Plans spell out capital improvement projects (CIP) through 2050 for needed infrastructure repairs, systems upgrades and water sustainability.

“They focus on rehabilitation and renewal of existing infrastructure as well as the expansion of the system due to development,” Cari Dale, city water utilities director, said. “The major effort in the water master plan includes the continued investment in local water supply development.

“Implementing these (projects) will ensure service reliability, fire protection, and water quality,” Dale added.

A major project on the horizon is the demolition of the La Salina wastewater plant, and consolidation of treatment facilities at the San Luis Rey site.

City plans also include expansion of recycled water treatment and delivery.

“It takes the city from a recycled water system in its infancy (serving two customers), to beneficially using a large portion of the wastewater treated in the city,” Dale said.

Commissioners responded to a draft copy of plans that is not available for public review. A presentation of revised draft plans will be shared at the next commission meeting. At that time commissioners will share final comments and recommendations before plans are presented to the City Council for approval.

Approved plans set the water utilities department budget and drive future water and sewer rates.

Several commissioners commented on the difficulty seniors have in paying rate increases, and asked that necessary rate hikes be spread over time.

Dale said any rate increases would be smoothed into the water utilities’ financial plan to avoid ups and downs in rates.

There was also kudos from commissioners that capital infrastructure costs are broken out into rehabilitation costs, paid for by existing customers, and expansion costs, paid for by development.

Commissioner Michael Bardin said his overall impression of plans is they are detailed, forward looking, and provide reliability.

“I don’t think you can exist unless you take care of infrastructure,” Bardin said.

Plan adoption will allow the city to pursue state Proposition 1 funds for recycled water projects.

“There are quite a bit of recycled projects,” Amy Czajkowski, a city CIP manager said. “We want to be one of the first ones in the gate.”

The commission will review revised draft plans Jan. 19.

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