Big Piners comment on uses for recycled-water project

By Deb Murphy

Driving range, woodlot irrigation, dog park and campground greening were just a few of the suggestions residents of Big Pine came up with for potential uses of recycled water at a July 12th workshop.

Inyo County’s Water Department secured a $267,000 grant to cover a feasibility study through the state Department of Water Resources. Mitigation Manager Larry Freilich put the town meeting together with consultants RO Anderson Engineering to get community input on potential end uses.

The list will be evaluated and narrowed down to five based on a scoring system based on several criteria, including the cost of maintenance and operations and economic potential. The community will have the opportunity to narrow that list down to three. Then, following a report on the finalists, one project will be selected, again, by the community.

The consultants’ scope of work includes engineering plans and environmental documents, basically ending with a shovel-ready project. The study and the selected project will be the basis for further grant funding for construction.

Freilich’s hope is the Big Pine project could serve as a pilot project for additional recycled water uses throughout the County.

Rob Anderson started off with a resume of his company’s recycled water projects in the Carson City area, ranging from golf course irrigation to crop irrigation for a distillery. The possibilities are not just limited by the nearly two dozen Piners’ imagination, but by the level of treatment and cost to upgrade and then operate the Big Pine Community Service District and Big Pine Paiute Tribe of Owens Valley wastewater treatment facilities.

The CSD treats its wastewater to secondary level with no disinfectant, limiting uses to those with little or no human access—for instance, the water could be used on tree crops providing it doesn’t touch the edible parts; nursery stock and non-food bearing trees could be irrigated providing irrigation is cut off at least 14 days prior to harvest. The Tribe’s facility would be further limited as the facility lacks aeration.

Other considerations included distance from the treatment facilities, both east of U.S. Highway 395 with additional weight for projects representing economic development.

With input from the consultants, Big Pine residents came up with some traditional projects: irrigation for a Christmas tree farm, irrigation for the Tribe’s economic development zone landscaping and Mendenhal Park trees. Other suggestions that could require additional treatment process were fish farm (tilapia was the recommended fish), ball park irrigation and a dog park. BryAnne Vaughn, president of the BPCSD, suggested irrigation for hops in support of a Big Pine brewery.

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