Sewer plant that uses micro-organisms to ‘eat’ waste gets big upgrade

OROVILLE — The Sewerage Commission-Oroville Region influent pump plant is receiving an upgrade.

The effort is to replace the incoming pump plant with a new set of pumps and container building. The work is being done approximately 40 feet down from street level, according to Oroville City Councilor David Pittman.

“We’re replacing the pump station that serves Lake Oroville Public Utility District, the city of Oroville and the Thermalito Water Sewer District,” said plant manager Glen Sturdevant.

The plant functions with a “cool biological process,” according to Sturdevant.

“The plant grows micro-organisms that eat the waste,” Sturdevant said. “We control them by the amount of air and waste and keep them in a certain lifestyle stage. Then the water is sterilized with chlorine gas.”

All of the plant’s pumps are currently being replaced. The new pump station gives more control on the amount of water and where it is being pumped to.

“We give more control on the volume of water and where it pumps throughout the plant,” Sturdevant sid.

The original plant was built in 1956. Sturdevant said there are a couple pieces of equipment left of the old plant as well as the original building.

“The Sewerage Commission-Oroville Region staff does a wonderful job of keeping the plant going,” Sturdevant said.

There are currently 10 Sewerage Commission-Oroville Region employees.

Sturdevant said that Chico’s plant has had six upgrades over the years while Oroville has had none.

“Even though it’s old, it’s in good shape due to the staff,” Sturdevant said. “It has gotten more efficient.”

The total project’s cost is $7.1 million. Half of it, or $3.7 million, was funded through grant funding and Sewerage Commission-Oroville Region is paying for the other half.

“Sewerage Commission-Oroville Region has done a good job of keeping costs down,” Sturdevant said.

“It is significant as the treatment plant is providing for existing customers and the future ability to serve new customers,” Pittman said. “The new pumping plant has more capacity than the old plant and is a huge new assist to the Oroville community.”

The project began in August and is slated to be finished in July 2022.

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