The City of Fresno’s Southeast Water Treatment Plant is near completion after years of planning, approvals and construction. The Plant is scheduled to begin operation in the summer and will help the City of Fresno treat the water that comes from Kings River. The treated water will then be supplied to Fresno residents.
Sophisticated processing is required to treat the water, which will go through settlers, weirs and through ozone into filters before being able to be released into the reservoir. The Plant is one of the city’s biggest undertakings and sits on 50 acres of land.
Fresno has been relying on groundwater to supply water to residents, with around 40 million gallons of water able to be treated daily. The groundwater is often run through the best water softeners due to many homes having older plumbing systems.
Fresno’s new Plant will be able to treat 80 million gallons of water daily, doubling the city’s current water production. The city’s officials have been working to make the city less reliant on groundwater in an effort to make the city drought resistant.
Officials state that many of the groundwater wells will be shut off when the treatment plant is in operation. Groundwater has been the main source of drinking water for 80 years, but officials claim that the water levels have declined over 100 feet since the wells were first dug.
Wells are now dug deeper into the ground to access water. Lifts have to be powered by electricity to lift the water to the surface, causing energy bills to rise, too.
Fresno plans to let the water levels rise again thanks to the treatment plant. The wells will remain in good condition, with higher water levels expected as the wells replenish. The city hopes to rely on the wells when the next drought occurs that will limit surface water.
The city will help with the replenishment, using snow melt and surface water when wetter weather is prevalent.
Fresno planned to spend $429 million for the city’s Recharge Fresno plan. The process included $18.2 million to place new water mains along a four-mile section. Engineers originally estimated that the water mains would cost $20 million.
The total cost to build the plant itself was expected to be $159 million, but estimates swelled to at least $200 million.
When the water is too much for the plant to treat, the water will be re-routed to recharge the city’s water tables.
The project is paid for by residents that have seen their water bills double. The average water bill of $24 a month is expected to be $48 a month over the next few years, as the city attempts to pay off the $400+ million project.
Kings River water helps irrigate farms, but the city claims that substituting surface for groundwater will benefit farmers in the long-term. Replenishing the city’s water tables will allow farmers to maintain crops during droughts.
Fresno expects to supply 85% of the city’s water using surface water and reducing the city’s reliance on ground water from 85% to 15%.