2016 Wastewater Treatment Facility Tour

Silver Slugs enjoyed an amazing two-hour tour of the Santa Cruz Wastewater Treatment Facility on February 17.  Our tour leaders, David Meyers & Michael Ortega were extremely knowledgeable about the facility and rattled off mind-boggling facts and figures about the millions of gallons/day treated, average daily flow, wet weather vs. dry weather flow rates, etc.

We learned that raw sewage passes through mechanically operated screens that remove debris (metals, syringes, plastics, and yes, even a SC County Jail orange jumpsuit, as well as other objects).  Solids are sent through an anaerobic digesting system that is similar to the process in our stomachs.  As a bi-product of this process, methane gas is produced and this gas, as well as an array of solar panels, provide about ¾ of the energy used at the plant.

Liquids are sent through a series of filtering, clarifying and disinfecting systems.  Much of the water is recycled and used at the facility.  What remains is discharged a mile off-shore through a diffuser pipe that is 110 feet below the ocean surface.

The plant operates 24/7 and has three back-up generators in the event of a power failure.

The security at the gated-access facility is very tight as one would imagine.  We all signed liability releases to tour the plant that included the statement:  "I agree that photographs and video and/or audio recordings of our tour, or portion thereof, of the WWTF are NOT ALLOWED in any format."  But our hosts were kind enough to allow a group photo on the grounds.  Thanks to Mike Ortega for taking the photo.  In the far back of the photo, you can see our main guide David Meyers.  A special thanks to Operations Manager, Mike Sanders, for facilitating the tour.

Silver Slugs touring the facility