Modesto City Councilman Brad Hawn and Nick Penny, Director of Utility Planning and Projects for the City of Modesto, visited the Turlock City Council on Tuesday to discuss a regional project that would send recycled wastewater to water-starved farmers on the county’s westside.
The westside’s 45,000 acre Del Puerto Irrigation District parallels the Delta-Mendota Canal and is completely reliant on federal Central Valley Project water. In recent years, the district has seen their water allocations become completely unreliable and drop to as low as 5 percent of requested flows this year.
The regional effort would partner the City of Turlock with the City of Modesto to construct pipelines to convey treated wastewater to farmers in the Del Puerto Irrigation District, providing as much as 31,000 acre-feet of water each year and generating $35 million in annual income for Del Puerto farmers.
The Valley’s representatives in Washington, D.C., are currently sponsoring a bill to complete the preliminary study needed to make the project a reality. Stimulus funds could then be available to construct the $180 million conveyance system.
The project potentially includes federal funding for the City of Turlock’s planned $27 million Harding Drain Bypass pipeline, which has long been seen as a necessary improvement to the city’s wastewater treatment system to discharge treated wastewater directly into the San Joaquin River. In a separate item Tuesday evening, the Council elected to move forward with securing underwriters for potential sewer revenue bonds to fund parts of the Harding Bypass, should the City be unable to secure cut-rate state water bonds.
The council did not take any formal action on the informational item, but Turlock City Councilman Ted Howze requested staff review the potential use of that same treated wastewater as recycled drinking water – a tactic that has been pursued in some Southern California towns and could become essential as Turlock looks to secure water for additional residents.
Affordable housing set for Linwood
The Turlock City Council unanimously approved an agreement with non-profit housing corporation EAH Inc. to develop nearly 7-acres of city-owned vacant land at 500 West Linwood into affordable rental housing.
According to Mary Martone of EAH Inc., the development is intended to bring the neighborhood up, not down, with 149 high-quality dwellings with a Mediterranean character. The two and three-story apartment buildings will feature green building methods, a community center, pool, and recreation areas, including a computer learning center with afterschool supervision and tutoring.
A one bedroom apartment would be available to Turlockers who make less than 30 percent of the average area income for approximately $286 per month, while a three bedroom would be available to those who make less than 50 percent of the average area income – $24,100 for a family of four – for about $676. All residents would first undergo in-depth credit checks and criminal background checks at what Martone characterized as a tightly run, anti-crime property.
The agreement will see Turlock negotiate a final agreement with EAH Inc. prior to construction, in which the City would likely provide the land and Redevelopment Agency housing funds. EAH Inc. has previously completed 74 rental properties across 17 counties, and now manages 9,000 units.
Rough roads a concern
The topic of Turlock’s roads came up late in Tuesday’s City Council meeting, when Councilwoman Amy Bublak asked that the City investigate the possibility of spending more money on Turlock’s troubled thoroughfares.
Bublak noted that the city expected to receive only a fraction of the street funds owed by the state, and requested a report on the possibility of using Redevelopment Agency funds to help keep up with ongoing maintenance. According to City Engineer Mike Pitcock, the City of Turlock must spend $9 million per year to maintain roads at their current state; the city has been putting in just about $1 million per year.
On a positive note, Pitcock stated that the reconstruction of Canal Drive would soon go out to bid. All westbound lanes from Geer Road to Daubenberger Road will be rebuilt, in addition to eastbound lanes from Geer Road to Denair Road and from Johnson Road to Daubenberger Road. The segment between Denair and Johnson was repaved a few years ago, but could be overlaid with new asphalt.
The council also unanimously approved:
• A planned development for the expansion of All Saints Newman Catholic Community Church, which will include a new 7,600 sq. ft. multipurpose building, a new 700 sq. ft. office building, a 1,000 sq. ft. youth center expansion, and, eventually a new 17,000 sq. ft., 1,000 seat church building.
• A housekeeping revision to the City of Turlock’s agreement with the Turlock Poker Room, editing in a passage restricting the maximum payment to 7.5 percent of gross revenue which was previously agreed upon but not included in the final text.