Council Mulls Alternate Sewer System for District 5

The La Cañada Flintridge City Council was briefed in a workshop held Monday on a low flow sewer system to be offered for homeowners in proposed District 5, south of Foothill Boulevard.

The council will make final decisions on the proposal at a special meeting July 30, and will present it at a public meeting in September.

The District 5 sewer system has been widely debated for the past several years. A gravity system such as was used elsewhere in the city was more considerably more expensive for the Flintridge area and was rejected in an informal poll of its residents.

Archer Consulting was one of three firms to propose alternative systems, and along with Fraser Engineering has been holding talks with the city and a council committee.

According to Mayor Dave Spence, the proposed low flow system has several advantages, including being less expensive and less disruptive to local streets to install.

"There wouldn't be an added cost for the connection between their property and the sewer line," he said. "It's all one package."

The cost for ratepayers would range from about $36,000 to $66,000 for the larger estates.

The city will have to identify about $3 million in funding to fully design the system before it is built, Spence said. "We'd be looking for possible grant funding for that," he said. The system would also be more expensive in annual operation and maintenance.

La Cañada will once again rely on an advisory vote from residents before proceeding formally with the plan, the mayor said.

A question still to be answered is how much pressure the state's water quality board will put on the city to complete the system quickly, as a way to improve the local watershed.

La Cañada, long relying on septic tanks, has been building a sewer system since the late 1990s, using state loans and city bonds. Districts 1 and 2 have been completed and District 3A/3B is under construction (there is no District 4).

Construction delays and the cost of individual assessments have made the program a controversial one, and have given the city public works department a large assignment to run the program. Deteriorating septic tanks and concerns about water quality have driven prior public acceptance of the program.

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