Rainbow outsources Oak Crest Estates wastewater treatment to WQS

The Rainbow Municipal Water District (RMWD) will now contract with Water Quality Specialists (WQS) to treat wastewater generated by the Oak Crest Estates mobile home park.

The decision to fill the Rainbow board’s vacant Division 3 seat was deferred to the district’s Feb. 28 board meeting since one of the candidates was unable to attend, so the Rainbow board only had four members Jan. 24 but all four of those voted in favor of the agreement.

“The district is still involved as a co-permittee for the plant, but there’s going to be another firm that’s going to handle the day-to-day operations,” said Rainbow general manager Tom Kennedy.

In 1993 the Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB) adopted requirements for the discharge of domestic waste by the mobile home park, and the Rainbow district was included as a co-permittee on that waste discharge order. The order allows for the disposal of up to 12,000 gallons per day of treated domestic wastewater which is disposed of y spray irrigation on approximately five acres.

The treatment facility, which serves 112 units within the mobile home park, is an extended aeration package treatment plant whose secondary effluent is not chlorinated before being discharged to the spray area. The treatment plant, which for safety and security reasons is fenced off to prevent public access, includes two concrete-lined storage ponds with a total capacity of 1.2 million gallons.

The previous agreement between Rainbow and Oak Crest reimbursed the Rainbow district for staff time required to assist Oak Crest staff in the day-to-day operations of the plant.

“For many years we’ve been partners,” said Kennedy.

The RMWD currently discharges wastewater to the Oceanside Outfall and does not have its own treatment facility and thus Rainbow employees do not have certain treatment plant operator certifications common for operations staff of agency-owned treatment plants.

Due to the treatment plant’s small size, it was allowed to operate without advanced treatment certifications, and throughout the history of Rainbow collaborating with the mobile home park, there have be no operational failures or notices of discharge violations. The most recent RWQCB inspection of the plant identified no issues requiring remediation.

State law has revised operator certification requirements, and in September 2016 Rainbow received a notice from the RWQCB that the plant was classified as a Grade III wastewater treatment plant which requires an operator to have a Wastewater III certification or higher. State law requires full-time employment at a significantly larger plant for the issuance of a Grade III certification.

“We had to have someone else,” said Kennedy.

Rainbow and Oak Crest staff worked together to find a suitable contractor. The district and mobile home park decided to utilize WQS, which is headquartered in Escondido. All treatment and disposal operations will be conducted by WQS and Oak Crest staff.

Rainbow executed the contract with WQS for $1,950 per month, which will be reimbursed to the district by Oak Crest. Although WQS will develop reports for submittal to the RWQCB, Rainbow will review the reports and will provide any other needed administrative oversight. Oak Crest will pay Rainbow $100 per month for the administrative oversight.

The contract with WQS is through September 2017. The agreement also calls for Rainbow and Oak Crest to renegotiate new fees prior to September 2017 or to take steps to replace WQS with a different contractor.

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