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City Council considers Richmond sewage treatment options

on September 26, 2013

After studying the possibility, Richmond City Council learned it’s currently not feasible to shutdown the city’s sewage treatment plant.

Over a year ago, the Richmond City Council instructed city staff to study the feasibility of sending wastewater flows to East Bay Municipal Utility District’s plant and shutting down Richmond’s facility at 601 Canal Blvd. But the analysis proved differently.

“We need to rehabilitate that plant so it can operate safely and without odors and in a way that’s compliant,” said Chad Davisson, wastewater division manager for the City of Richmond.

The staff presented a list of options to the City Council Tuesday night. The possibilities include: handing over management to East Bay MUD, treating liquid at the Canal plant and sending bio solids to another district, and splitting flows between West County Wastewater District and Richmond.

“There is about a $150 million of capital work that needs to be done at that treatment plant, so staff was looking at the best way to get the most value of that expenditure,” Davisson said. “There was significant odor issues in 2010 that put some more focus on this issue.”

While the City Council gave no specific deadline for an update, the council members seemed eager to address the issue. They advised staffers to explore all possibilities least costly and most environmentally responsible.

“It’s important that we find some solutions here because we continue to have residents concerned very recently about odors and health impact,” said Mayor Gayle McLaughlin.

In other business, the council received results from the city manager’s office on Richmond’s 2013 Community Survey. The National Research Center conducted the analysis and mailed out 3,000 surveys to randomly selected Richmond households. The city received 408 completed surveys, a roughly 14 percent response rate – the lowest in the history of the community surveys. This is the fourth time the city has sent out the questionnaires.

Compared to the 2011 survey, many ratings increased, including: overall quality of life, ease of car travel, satisfaction with recreation centers or facilities and the value of services for taxes paid. Ratings also increased for city services like street cleaning, sidewalk maintenance, storm drainage, street lighting and services for youth and low-income people.

Less than half rated the city’s overall direction as good or excellent, lower than the benchmark, the survey analysis shows.

With so few residents responding, Vice Mayor Corky Booze expressed “no confidence in the survey” and asked Bill Lindsay, Richmond’s city manager, to address the less favorable responses.

Those households not selected but would like to still provide feedback can visit for the English version or for Spanish.






  1. Don Gosney on October 3, 2013 at 5:55 pm

    Anyone who works with polls or surveys knows that they’re worthless unless you see the questions as they were asked and you know how the poll was conducted.

    After reading the poll questions I had a tough time seeing how they came up with some of their results.

    In particular they rarely gave people an option not to respond or to respond neither in the affirmative or the negative.

    As we heard from several members of the Council, they couldn’t understand how the results could say that things have improved in some areas but that people weren’t overwhelmingly in support of a favorable opinion of their city. If people view the city very poorly last year and just poorly this year, the results are going to show an improvement over last year. What these Councilmembers are not acknowledging is that maybe these people view the city poorly–just a different level of “poorly” [These terms were used here solely to explain a point and not as a reflection of the survey results.]

    We also have to look at how the polling is done. If it’s a phone poll there will be a very good chance that economically depressed residents would not be a part of the phone pool. More often than not lower income families cannot afford both a land line and a mobile phone so the mobile is all they have. Since those phone numbers are not listed anywhere, they’re not going to be called.

    And if the survey was done by mail, once again, some parts of our community will not take the time or make the effort to complete such a poll.

    What this does in both cases is skew the results so you have a disproportionate set of results representing some sectors of the community better than others.

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