By Jennifer Grimes
Triplicate staff writer
If Smith River Rancheria is successful in its efforts to build a wastewater treatment plant, it will likely be located on coastal land in or near Rancheria boundaries and serve several proposed developments as well as the Smith River township.
"Given the low chance of odors and the compact nature of the plant, it could be located almost anywhere on the Rancheria," said a report by the Winzler and Kelly engineering, a firm hired by the tribe.
"Ideally, it would be located on a lower elevation ...and will likely be located in proximity to the discharge point," the report says.
The rancheia has plans for a 70-room hotel, a gas station, 25 three bedroom, two bathroom homes, a community center and gym as well as a five machine laundry facility for the hotel and existing casino restaurant. All are to be built by the Rancheria within the next five years, according to the grant application submitted to fund planning for the wastewater treatment facility.
This planned development and the lack of land for adequate septic drainfields makes a wastewater treatment plant with discharge into the ocean the best option, according to Winzler and Kelly, which explored several sewage processing options for the tribe's master plan.
Currently, the tribe in partnership with the Del Norte County government is applying for a $350,000 grant and a $150,000 no interest loan from the California Pollution Control Financing Authority.
If awarded, the money will fund the required oceanographic studies, environmental studies and permit application costs for a plant.
After those studies are completed, the Rancheria can then apply for money to design and build the facility.
So far, cost estimates for the plant come in at $3.8 million, including the drilling and discharge piping for the ocean outfall, according to the Winzler and Kelly report attached to the Rancheria's grant application.
The engineers recommend a specific facility called a Zenon, Zenogem system that could be contained within a 2,000 square foot building with a single tank to be located outside the building.
"It's a compact system with minimal noise or odor impacts," the engineering report said.
Winzler and Kelly estimate about 150,000 gallons of wastewater per day will be generated by the Rancheria's proposed developments.
If the tribe buys the Ship-A-Shore Resort ¬Ė a possibility indicated in the engineering report ¬Ė another 80,000 gallons will flow into the new plant.
Current wastewater flows of the area are estimated to be 22,600 gallons per day, all of which is processed by several different septic tanks.
The firm strongly suggested in its report that the Rancheria decide soon whether it will purchase Ship-A-Shore before designing and permitting the plant.
Though a specific size and capacity was not identified for the proposed plant, engineers indicated that the Zenogem System could accommodate both the tribe's planned projects for the next 10 years and much of the surrounding community.
Rancheria spokesperson Laura Mayo said the tribe plans to build a facility to serve all of the Smith River township north to the Oregon border.
"Once built, it will provide jobs and support sustainable economic development in Smith River and provide opportunities for construction and infill development without encroaching onto surrounding agriculture fields," said a statement from the Rancheria.