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Water - The Jewel Of The Desert - Treasure It!
Water truly is the jewel in our desert, and MSWD is dedicated to protecting and
preserving the quality of our most valuable natural resource. The community made
its equally strong desire to protect its precious water known when it passed by
popular vote Assessment District 11, which was completed in February of 2006, and
Assessment District 12, a project now underway and estimated for completion in 2014.
These projects are a part of MSWD's Groundwater Quality Protection Project,
whose goal is to eliminate individual wastewater disposal systems (septic tanks)
and extend the municipal wastewater collection (sewer) system to over 6,600 properties
in the Desert Hot Springs area.
Threat of Contamination - In 1996, MSWD commissioned the United States Geological
Survey (USGS) and Michigan Technological University to conduct a study on the migration
of wastewater discharged from septic tanks and the effects, or potential effects,
the discharging had on regional groundwater resources. The study, "Transport
of Contaminates from Wastewater Disposal Systems near Mission Creek Sub Basin, Desert
Hot Springs, CA," identified thousands of individual septic systems that lie
above the Mission Creek (cold water) and Desert Hot Springs (hot water) aquifers.
The study concluded that wastewater discharged from individual septic systems poses
a significant threat to the public groundwater resources found within the greater
Desert Hot Springs area, and recommended the abatement of these individual wastewater
MSWD's Groundwater Quality Protection Project - MSWD's Groundwater
Quality Protection Project involves constructing municipal wastewater collection
and treatment systems that will eliminate the individual septic systems that overlie
the Mission Creek and Desert Hot Springs aquifers, protecting the quality of our
water for the generations to come. Phase I of the project, Assessment District 11,
was completed in 2006. Phase II of the project, Assessment District 12, requires
building over 57 miles of wastewater pipelines over the next five to seven years
and eliminating roughly 4,000 individual septic systems. Rapid growth in the area
has brought with it an abundance of new individual septic systems and MSWD is working
hard towards its goal of eliminating at least 600 individual septic systems annually.
Documents Related to AD12
Project Funding - MSWD has made significant entrepreneurial efforts in securing
funding for the Groundwater Quality Protection Project. Through formation of AD12,
local residents agreed to contribute $28 million toward the project, and MSWD diligently
pursues funding from sources such as State Water Bonds and regional and Federal
grants. The project focuses on long-term water supply and groundwater quality issues
within MSWD service areas, addressing water supply protection, water reclamation,
entrepreneurial funding strategies and underground storage capacity protection.
Facts About Septic Systems
3 Most Important Septic System Facts
Fact 1: More than 55% of MSWD households use individual septic systems (on-site
sewage treatment systems) to treat their wastewater.
Fact 2: Septic systems protect human health and the environment by safely
recycling wastewater back into the natural environment.
Fact 3: You are responsible for operating and maintaining your septic system.
Approximately 5,500 customers within the District’s service area use individual
septic systems for wastewater treatment. This has been the predominant method of
wastewater disposal for over five decades. Since the mid-1970s, MSWD has been concerned
about the possible contamination of the local groundwater basin from tank seepage
and the community’s continued reliance on septic systems. In 1997, the District
determined that key improvements to its sewer collection system would be needed
to protect its local drinking water supplies and local economy.
Recently, District voters approved the formation of a $58 million sewer assessment
district (AD12). This project is designed to remove existing septic tank systems
and to finance the costs of additional improvements to the District sewer system.
The “yes” vote assured $28 million dollars in funding; now MSWD is working to secure
the matching funds needed to bring the project’s funding total to the $57 million
needed to complete the project. At the same time, the District is working on the
engineering and construction logistics of bringing sewers to the thousands of parcels
that need them. While this project may take several years to complete, we believe
the goal is within our reach and we are in the process of making it happen.
Septic System Maintenance - The District appreciates your patience and understanding
as it works to complete the design and construction of AD12. In the interim, property
owners will need to continue to operate and maintain their individual septic tanks
until the District is ready to connect their home to the sanitary sewer collection
system. Learn more about the correct maintenance of your septic system by visiting
the MSWD lobby for a free copy of “The Care and Feeding of Your Septic System” brochure
or by checking out this
University of Minnesota information page
or these brochures from the University of Arizona:
Horton Wastewater Treatment Plant (HWTP)
As early as 1954, local citizens petitioned for sewer service. The cost, however,
was prohibitive. But growth brought an overload to the septic systems and health
hazards to the community. In 1970 the Board of Directors voted to move ahead with
plans to apply for a federal grant and build a sewage treatment plant. In 1972 the
District built the Alan L. Horton Wastewater Treatment Plant, named after a longtime
Board member who was instrumental in bringing wastewater collections and treatment
to Desert Hot Springs.
Beginning with the capacity to process 200,000 gallons of wastewater a day, the
Horton Wastewater Treatment Plant has been expanded four times to today's capacity
of 2 million gallons a day (MGD). The plant has received numerous awards over the
years, including Plant of the Year in 1989, 1991, 1992, 1996, 2004 and 2006; Collections
Systems of the Year in 1992 and 2006; State Safety Award in 1992 and numerous Operator
of the Year and Collection Systems Person of the Year awards. The most recent awards
- Plant Operator of the Year - Chris Jacobson, Grade II Operator
These awards were presented to the plant's staff by the Colorado River Basin
Section (CORBS) of the California Water Environment Association (CWEA) at their
annual awards dinner held at the Fantasy Springs Casino Events Center.
- Plant of the Year: 1-5 MGD category - this is the 6th win for the HWTP
- Collections System of the Year: 0 - 249 miles category
- Collection System Person of the Year: Lead Operator Lee Boyle
- Supervisor of the Year: Chief Plant Operator Wayne Robertson, an 18-year employee
of the District
Continued growth and development in the Desert Hot Springs area brings with it the
need for further expansion of wastewater collections and treatment systems. The
District has already been looking at possible expansion projects which would enable
the facility to treat 3 - 5 million gallons per day (MGD) of wastewater as the need
Other objectives in the District's wastewater treatment expansion plans are
the implementation of new and upgraded technology which will effectively control
odors and grease at the existing facilities and to have a plan in place for future
tertiary reclaimed water options. These objectives are expected to be in place at
the plant in 2009.
Take a virtual tour of the Horton Wastewater Treatment Plant
if you need to download the free PowerPoint slideshow viewer.
Water Supply Protection - eliminating known pollution sources, such as individual
septic tanks, and constructing wastewater collection and treatment systems.
Water Reclamation - reduction of overall groundwater demand and maximum efficient
usage of groundwater resources including utilizing recycled water for all non-potable
Tertiary - Tertiary treatment removes nutrients, heavy metals and chemical
contaminants through a microfiltering process.
Reclaimed Water - Product produced by tertiary treatment of wastewater.