City Beat January 2022

By Don Reynolds, City Manager
As published in the January issue of the Mission Village Voice

This month, I am sending  a message of gratitude. On December 14, 2021, the community overwhelmingly supported an $18 million, complete transformation of its wastewater system: the force-main to Hollister's wastewater treatment plant. The City Council approved the project, the required environmental studies; and an increase in sewer rates to pay for it. The City will offset the cost with an estimated $5.4 million in state and federal grants. This transformation will remove the odors from the industrial domestic wastewater entering the City and decommission the current plant.  This was a very hard decision, and it is recognized that not everyone agrees with it. Thank you so much for trusting the City Manager to build it on time and under budget.

The new sewer rates go into effect February 1, 2022. The wastewater project will now prepare the final construction plans and prepare it for bidding. Construction should begin in early summer and last 12-14 months.

This is only half of the water work the City has been focusing on. In order to comply with the EPA's mandate to have the water systems in repair by December 2023, both the source water and the way the City disposes of its wastewater have to be fixed. The two projects, combined with the discontinuance of brine-producing water softeners, will cut the amount of salt in the ground water and wastewater by more than 60%. The projects will also free our staff to focus on water distribution and collection system upgrades. Both big projects will greatly improve the quality of life for those who live in San Juan Bautista.

Importing water will provide a source other than groundwater to be part of its "water portfolio" and will greatly reduce the hardness of the groundwater we currently rely on. The import of fresh drinking water from the  West Hills Water Treatment Plant continues to move forward but at a slower pace. It is being managed in a partnership with the San Benito Water District. Its design is 30% complete, and some preliminary cost estimates were received in December. These estimates are being refined to determine the impact this project will have on the water rates. Early next year, a second round of rate increases will need to be considered to complete the whole effort.

In other news, the Public Safety Ad-Hoc Committee is, among other things, working on a City dedicated Sheriff deputy and installing a camera system. The City is stepping up its enforcement of dog-leash and dog defecation laws, with new signs at City Parks. The Verutti Park restrooms are being ordered in December and should arrive in March. The new park in Franklin Circle will break ground the first week of the New Year. The City Council is appointing a newly formed Economic Development Citizen Advisory Committee. Special events are back in 2022. TAFN... please stay in touch.

We wish everyone a productive, warm, and healthy New Year!