CRESTLINE-LAKE GREGORY ROTARY CLUB
By Mary-Justine Lanyon
Rick Dever, general manager of the Crestline Sanitation District, and Ron Scriven, the district’s operations manager, updated members of the Crestline-Lake Gregory Rotary Club on the improvements they have planned for the district’s equipment.
Scriven gave the Rotarians a tour of the Huston Creek treatment plant through a series of slides. In addition to Huston Creek, the district has two other treatment plants: Seeley Creek and Cleghorn.
When the raw wastewater comes in to the treatment plant, Scriven explained, it goes through a preliminary treatment. “Anything that comes through sticks,” he said, adding they have seen cell phones as well as other unusual things.
This first step removes anything large and helps protect the pumps.
After the preliminary step, the waste goes to the primary process. These clarifiers, Scriven said, “were built in the late 1940s and were put into service in the early 1950s.” They were retrofitted in 1972 because they had no grease removal step. A skimmer arm was added to take the grease out.
The waste then goes into a large white tank – the gravity thickener – where the solids settle to the bottom. The solids are pressed out and dumped on the top of the belt press.
In the belt press, the solids go through a gravity zone, with the water separating from the solids, which get pressed through a series of wheels. If the press is working well, the solids come out in a sheet, get dropped onto a belt and put into a truck.
Those solids, Scriven said, become compost that many people use in their homes.
After the water leaves the primary tank, it goes through a biological treatment process – a trickling filter. This original process from the 1950s takes any organics out of the water. “This is the only system like it still operating in California,” Scriven noted.
The water progresses through the secondary process – another tank designed like the gravity thickener. From there the water goes down to the chlorine contact tank, also original from the 1950s. The water slowly serpentines around, making contact with the chlorine, which kills anything in the water.
After Lake Silverwood was put in in 1972, Scriven said, the sanitation district was required to chlorinate their water going down the 14-mile pipeline to Las Flores. “Before that,” he said, “the water was used on the hillside, making a nice green belt for protection.” The chlorine was required because Silverwood is a drinking water source.
Dever added that the primary tanks are “super old. One is sinking so much, the weirs are off kilter. We are building another primary. Right now, we have no redundancies in the primaries, which handle several thousand gallons a day. If they were to go down, we couldn’t treat the water to the standard required by the state.”
Scriven said that, when the district drains the primaries once a year to inspect them, “we can’t be off-line more than three or four hours so we are rushed to get them back up. It’s hard to do much-needed repairs.”
Alan Clanin, president of the Rotary Club, asked how the listing affects the treatment. “It lets a little grease escape and some solids come over the weirs,” Dever responded.
Rotarian Derek Leistra asked how many households the district serves. Scriven said there are 7,400 connections for a population of 10,000. “The average daily flow is 300,000 gallons in a 24-hour period.”
The belt press, Dever told the Rotarians, is “a very important piece of equipment. It’s super-old technology, not near state of the art. We can barely keep it going.”
He added that a company comes in every two years to do a full go-through. “Parts for it are extremely hard to come by. Our mechanic manufactures some to keep it in services.”
The district will be replacing the belt press with two new screw presses, Dever said. “They will make the water drier and make our hauling costs less. That is part of our big upgrade.”
Scriven added that the belt press takes a lot of energy.
And when the belt press breaks down, Dever said, “we haul our solids to the Lake Arrowhead Community Services District and they dewater them for us. It’s a major inconvenience.”
As for bringing in a portable press if the belt press is not working, Dever said it would cost $150,000 to mobilize it and $15,000 a week to rent. The closest one is in Texas.
“It’s really important to get the new screw presses,” he said.
A third upgrade the district will be implementing is purchasing a generator for the Huston Creek treatment plant. “When the power goes down, we are down,” Dever said. “Isn’t that something.”
Clanin, who serves as general manager of the Crestline Village Water District, noted that “people don’t appreciate what you do until something goes wrong. We don’t want people thinking about us. But keeping them up and running costs money.”
The Crestline Sanitation District’s annual budget is $4.5 million, Dever said, which includes property tax revenue and service fees.
Rotarian Bill Mellinger asked if the district gets any income from selling the treated water. Dever said that, because it is only secondary and not tertiary-treated water, they are not selling any right now. They had sold some to Skanska, he said, for dust control. And, if the Tapestry project goes in down in Hesperia, they hope to sell some to them.
Clanin made the point that there is no such thing as “new” water. “The water we have on the planet is the same water we’ve always had.”