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Water agency moves forward on $30 million water treatment enhancement

Zone 7 Water Board approves first step to add ozone filtration to Lake Del Valle plant

The Tri-Valley's water wholesaler is moving forward with a decades-long plan to add ozone technology to the area's primary water treatment plant, which could end up costing as much as $32.9 million.

The Zone 7 Water Agency board voted 5-1 on May 18 to approve the first $2.74 million for the initial project planning and design contracts, with the remaining cost to be financed with debt issuance. Board member Angela Ramirez Holmes voted against the measure, and board member Sandy Figuers was absent.

The board approved a contract with CDM Smith Inc. for up to $2,664,000 for planning services and with Water Quality Treatment Solutions, Inc., for up to $78,000 for design review and technical support services.

The agency has discussed their intention to take out debt to pay for large construction costs, and it was an important consideration when the board decided to raise wholesale potable water rates for the area's municipalities and water agencies. Higher rates meant greater reserves, which meant a better chance at a favorable debt option.

But the agency has not received any debt issuance yet, general manager Jill Duerig said. The agency has not decided what type of debt to pursue, including whether to pursue a type of debt that requires voter approval.

The planning and design contractors will evaluate the best way to add ozone filtration systems to the Del Valle Water Treatment Plant, which cleans water from Lake Del Valle before it is distributed to Pleasanton, Livermore, Dublin San Ramon Services District and Cal Water's Livermore division.

The total cost of the project is expected to cost $28.3 million -- but it could be as high as $32.9 million if additional upgrades are approved, Zone 7 staff stated.

Ozone technology is a common filtration method among other Bay Area water agencies, and Zone 7 is behind on the times because it was fiscally conservative during the recession, Duerig said.

The filtration system is more efficient at removing bad taste, bad odor, byproducts and cyanobacteria -- bacteria found in toxic blue-green algal blooms. Lake Del Valle is in the midst of a months-long toxic algae bloom, and the lake has been closed to swimmers since the winter.

Some board members said they supported the decision to move forward with the proposal, which had been delayed for at least a decade due to a lack of funding.

"We need that ozone very badly. We need to quit stalling," board member John Greci said. "I don't want to see this delayed anymore. I've waited a lot of years to see this inception."

Ramirez Holmes said she was voting against moving forward because the agency didn't have the debt issuance in place to pay for the rest of the plant.

"We don't have financing yet. … I'm concerned about the downpayment of several million dollars," she said. "I'm concerned at this point that we don't have all the pieces of the bigger picture."

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