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Wastewater Planning and Infrastructure Projects

Monte Rio-Villa Grande Wastewater Treatment Project

Several economically disadvantaged communities along the lower Russian River contain homes and businesses that rely on Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems (OWTS) for treatment and disposal of septic waste. Many of these systems do not meet the current standards. Because Monte Rio and Villa Grande currently qualify as economically disadvantaged communities, and therefore are eligible to access significant levels of grant funding for planning, design and construction of wastewater treatment systems, these communities were chosen as priority areas for addressing inadequate OWTS. 

With input from the Lower Russian River Citizen's Advisory Group, the Sonoma County Water Agency requested planning funds from the State of California’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund for the development of a Monte Rio/Villa Grande Wastewater Treatment Project Plan of Study (POS). Funding for the Study was awarded in April of 2021. Upon selection of a project consultant, the project is expected to begin during the summer of 2021 and will included opportunities for community input.

The POS will analyze alternatives for compliance with state standards for wastewater disposal in the vicinity of Monte Rio and Villa Grande. The goal of the project is to make it easier and more affordable for property owners to bring community wastewater treatment up to current standards and to comply with the new TMDL requirements. The POS will also help to inform efforts in other communities impacted by the new OWTS regulations.

The POS will explore a variety of wastewater treatment alternatives for the two communities, including, but not limited to, construction of an area wide collection system with discharge to a treatment plant, construction of a limited collection system for identified areas, upgrades to individual OWTS, construction of cluster systems for small neighborhoods, and evaluation of alternative forms of waste water treatment, including experimental toilet systems. It will also assess governance issues (including evaluation of the potential for an onsite wastewater management district), consider funding sources for the various alternatives identified in the study, and seek community input to keep the citizenry aware of the progress of the study and to identify community support for the alternatives that are evaluated. 

Project Phases
A phased approach will ensure that community, local, regional, and state partners have the opportunity to work collaboratively to identify viable options for providing adequate wastewater solutions for properties in the project areas. 

The Monte Rio and Villa Grande Wastewater Treatment Project includes the following phases: 

1) Plan of Study (currently underway)
2) Engineering, Design and Environmental Review 
3) Construction 

Analysis of Wastewater Governance Alternatives

Under a technical assistance grant received by the County from the State, a septic management district formation study was recently completed which analyzed wastewater governance alternatives within the Monte Rio-Villa Grande communities. The study looked at potential options for either existing or new local agencies to provide the organizational structure that could eventually own, manage and operate the preferred wastewater solutions that come out of the Monte Rio-Villa Grande Wastewater Treatment Project Plan of Study. 

Countywide Wastewater Mapping Study

The Board of Supervisors recently approved funding for a mapping study and analysis to identify areas within Sonoma County with low, moderate and high densities of septic infrastructure, where that infrastructure is located in relation to new or foreseeable Total Maximum Daily Load Requirements, and where if feasible, existing or new special service district or wastewater management district boundaries could be created or modified to allow for the management and support of community wastewater needs, including but not limited to, sewer conveyance and treatment, individual and shared septic systems, and alternative wastewater treatment technologies. 

The study will include a community engagement component to assess the level of support for and/or concerns expressed by communities and individuals related to the various wastewater management alternatives identified.

Russian River Clean

Contact Information

Russian River Clean

Alisha O'Loughlin

Lower Russian River Ombudsperson

County Administrator's Office
County of Sonoma

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County Administration Building
575 Administration Drive
Suite 104A
Santa Rosa, 95403