Santa Rosa, CA – June 6, 2018 – The Sonoma County Water Agency (Water Agency) Board of
Directors (Board) today approved a plan to extend sewer service in the
neighborhood of Larkfield Estates that was destroyed during last year’s fires.
The Board directed Water Agency staff to initiate the design and construction
of a sewer collection system in the neighborhood of Larkfield Estates, which
includes an area primarily southeast of Old Redwood Highway and Mark West
Springs Road, and to develop a financing program to lessen the financial burden
of connecting to sewer service.
“In response to the need to be bold in our approach to fire
recovery, the Water Agency has come up with a creative way to provide sewer service
to those who want to connect,” said James Gore, Water Agency Director and
Sonoma County Supervisor whose district includes the Larkfield Estates
neighborhood. “This program is aiming to take advantage of the rebuilding
process to improve community infrastructure and give neighbors real choices
about how they want to rebuild their homes. True resilience is about not just
rebuilding what we had, but making our communities stronger.”
The Sonoma Complex Fires, which swept Sonoma County
beginning on Sunday, October 8, 2017, caused widespread damage. In the
Airport-Larkfield-Wikiup Sanitation Zone entire neighborhoods were destroyed by
the Tubbs Fire, including Larkfield Estates. Many homes in the Larkfield area
were connected to septic systems.
Today’s Board vote directs the Water Agency to hire a firm
to begin the design of a sewer collection system that could include as many as
125 homes. The design and construction of the collection system will initially
be financed by the Water Agency, and costs will be allocated on a pro-rata
basis to the property owners who choose to participate in the program.
Participation in this program is completely voluntary and sewer construction
and connection costs will only assessed to property owners who choose to connect
to the sewer.
To ease the financial burden on property owners of
constructing the system, eligible property owners will be offered a financing
package that includes a 20-year low-interest loan for the sewer connection fee,
and a 30-year, low-interest loan for construction costs that includes a
10-year, interest- and principal-free grace period. The Board directed Water
Agency staff to develop an ordinance to implement the financing program, which
is expected to go before the Board of Directors late in the summer of 2018.
“The development of the plan to extend sewer service and
provide a financing program has been an iterative process based on the
requests, input, and feedback from a series of community meetings, discussions
on social media platforms, and many conversations with property owners in this
neighborhood” said Mike Thompson, Water Agency Assistant General Manager. “We
are truly appreciative of the partnership that has formed between Water Agency
staff and the Larkfield community who have worked with us to help us understand
their needs and to make this program better.”
“As septic systems age in areas served by the sanitation
districts and zones, the Water Agency is eager to develop programs like this
one which can help residents connect to sewer service,” Thompson continued.
“This is a unique opportunity for the Water Agency to responsibly reinvest our
resources into the community that is working to recover from the Sonoma Complex
Fires and to help develop a model to make sewer service connections feasible at
a neighborhood scale.”
More information about the sewer financing program, and
about how to opt-in to this program will be shared with the public as it
becomes available. Updated information on this project can be found by visiting