A small community along the Sacramento River currently uses a groundwater pump, treatment, and storage system that was installed decades ago. The owner and operator of the system was contacted by the Rural Community Assistance Corporation (RCAC) for assistance with planning for system upgrades in response to recent compliance violations including well structure and water quality. This community is in need of a feasibility study, engineering designs, and regulatory coordination to address the violations, and in addition, look for the potential for consolidation with neighboring small and community-owned systems.
The project applicant was brought to CECorps by a technical assistance provider with RCAC, indicating that the owner/operator of the utility had persistently been in violation of a number of County and State standards, including:
- The single wellhead is currently in an underground vault and the wellhead is not accessible, which violates state and local ordinance.
- Arsenic contamination intermittently exceeds Maximum Contaminant Limits during quarterly sampling events. While the system is not currently under a compliance order to address this issue, the County has noted that continued violations of this MCL would result in action on behalf of the County.
- A site sampling plan is still pending submission on behalf of the utility owner and requires an engineering analysis and signoff prior to submission.
In addition to these needs for the applicant’s system, they also indicated that other private well operators exist in the community and are not currently providing any sort of disinfection for their drinking water, nor providing treatment to remediate other groundwater constituents (such as arsenic). It was suggested that if engineering designs were being developed to address both well construction and water quality issues, that these designs incorporate the surrounding systems as well.
The community is looking for engineering assistance with regards to both their own system, as well as design and feasibility potential for the larger community. This will include assessing potential costs/benefits for the community’s source water, including consolidation with nearby towns, development of a new well, or retrofitting the existing well to meet current construction standards. In addition, the community will need various proposals for the treatment of arsenic if the current groundwater source option is chosen, and a sampling plan to reflect the potential constituents that might be encountered with that source. Lastly, the team would be expected to engage the broader community and private well owners for expanding the applicant’s distribution to include the rest of the community for purposes of creating economies of scale in financing, maintenance, and operation.
About the Community
The community is located on the Sacramento River on the outskirts of Sacramento County. There is a significant distance between neighboring towns, and within the town, there are multiple, privately owned and operated water systems. The applicant currently operates and manages the system for 70 individuals with a total of 34 service connections, but the community at large is considering incorporating the surrounding water systems to encompass the 200 person community. The community demographics show high levels of poverty and low median household incomes, with the primary economic activity for the area being large-scale farming.