By Jennifer Grimes
Triplicate staff writer
A new sewage treatment plant is under consideration by the Smith River Rancheria that potentially could serve all of northern Del Norte County, from Smith River to the state line.
"This was one of our needs and it will serve the needs of the rest of the community as well," said Laura Mayo, Environmental Programs Director for the Smith River Rancheria.
To begin the evaluation process, the Rancheria is partnering with the Del Norte County Board of Supervisors to win a $350,000 grant and a $150,000 loan from the California Pollution Control Financing Authority for design, permitting and preparation.
According to that application, a waste water treatment plant would allow for more and different types of development in the Smith River and northern county area and allow for higher density and smaller lots on land that currently has limited development potential.
"Right now, housing and growth are limited because there isn't a waste water treatment plant...This is the seed project for further development," Mayo said.
The Rancheria and the county have consulted with the state Regional Water Quality Control Board and the Rancheria has studied waste water treatment options.
"The most feasible option was determined to be a centralized wastewater treatment facility with discharge via an ocean outfall," reads a report to the county supervisors prepared by the county's grants manager Leslie Zondervan-Droz.
Del Norte County will be the lead applicant for the grant and loan money. A detailed agreement between the Rancheria and the county has been drawn, however to make the rancheria responsible for the management and implementation of the project.
The Rancheria will also be entirely responsible for re-paying the loan portion of the funds.
If the grant and loan are secured by the county, Rancheria administrators will have three years from the time of the award to accomplish as many tasks as possible toward the goal of construction.
During that time, Rancheria staff members will also pursue as many funding sources as possible for financing the remainder of the project, according to Zondervan-Droz's report.