No New Waste Water in Swan Lake


The outlines of a plan to eliminate the contribution of waste water to the Swan Lake flooding emerged from the details about the Stead waste water plant expansion (RSWRF)  presentation.

Here are the salient points:

  • The RSWRF plant has sufficient capacity (2.0 mgd) to handle the Lemmon Valley waste water treatment plant (LVWRF; 0.3 mgd).
  • The RSWRF plant is much newer and treats the effluent to a Class-A standard.  The LVWRF plant is over 40 years old and treats the effluent to a Class-C standard.
  • The Truckee Meadows water treatment plant (TMWRF) has sufficient surplus capacity to treat all the RSWRF effluent to a standard that allows it to discharge into the Truckee River.
  • There is presently an unused pipe (line) from RSWRF to TMWRF that could be connected to transport all the RSWRF discharge to the TMWRF facility.  It has been identified as a “shave” line.

So, why not do the following?

  1. Declare a moratorium on new water and sewer hook ups until the waste water is diverted out of the Swan Lake basin.  New development now is only making the disaster worse.
  2. Close the LVWRF plant and connect its customers to the RSWRF plant.  The LVWRF plant is out of date, treats to a low standard, and requires earthen berms and pumps to avoid being flooded.
  3. Connect the available line to divert all the RSWRF discharge to the TMWRF facility.  Neither LVWRF nor RSWRF will discharge to Swan Lake.
  4. Rescind the moratorium and support new connections up to the capacity limits of the new configuration.

Moving forward more capacity will be needed to support the ambitious development plans for the North Valleys.  The regional plan is to add 17,000 more dwellings.  This will require some serious infrastructure spending in any case.

  1. Expand the RSWRF plant from the current 2.0 mgd capacity to 4.0 mgd capacity as proposed.
  2. Direct the effluent from the RSWRF plant to a new TMWA plant that will refine the effluent from Class-A to Class-A+ that will allow it to be discharged into the Truckee River or used in many applications.
  3. Alternately, direct the effluent from the RSWRF plant to a new reservoir that could be built in the North Valleys to handle more effluent for storage, evaporation, and groundwater recharge.

Risks and Issues …

  • The Class-A+ process is still in a feasibility phase, it is not ready for volume use.  There is some risk it won’t be production ready in time for the new demand.  But, there are a number of Class-A+ facilities in other states, so there should be some reliable way to implement this.
  • Most of the new Long Valley creek is in California.  It is not clear if Reno could get approval to build a new reservoir there.  Fortunately, some of the suitable area is in Washoe County, so there should be a way to move forward in any case.

Let’s start with the first steps.  This can be done in a matter of weeks so that the waste water flows into Swan Lake are eliminated.  If there is some delay in getting the expanded capacity needed for the planned development, that is probably inevitable.  Note that this proposal does not address the issue of rain run off into Swan Lake.

Steve Wolgast sent the Reno City Council, the Reno Planning Commission, the Washoe County Commission, and the Washoe Planning Commission his presentation with a brief introductory note.




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