Sent: 5/30/2011

Subj: mtg on treatment plant plans: 6/6 and 6/8/11




San Jose's sewage treatment plant (north of Fwy 237 at Zanker) is to undergo a major renovation.


Staff and Planners have been working for several years now, including input from a Community Advisory Group (CAG), on a design.

(You can read all the details at A graphic of the plan is online at


The next step in the process is the preparation of the Environmental Impact Report (EIR).

You are invited to attend a Public Scoping Meeting to learn about the master plan and provide your input on what the EIR should address.


* Monday, June 6: 12:30 2:30 p.m.

San Jose/Santa Clara Water Pollution Control Plant

700 Los Esteros Road, San Jose


* Wednesday, June 8: 6:00 8:00 p.m.

Roosevelt Community Center

901 E. Santa Clara Street, San Jose


for more information, please contact Kristen Yasukawa at




Personal comments:

I served on the Community Advisory Group towards the end of the process, and I believe the plan is well-balanced.


The plan has "something for everybody", and, as such, it doesn't have everything that everybody wants: It is a compromise.


San Jose has been "blessed" with a large and robust sewage treatment plant, sized to handle all the numerous canneries that dotted the area before Silicon Valley.

The plant hasn't needed to be enlarged for decades, but now it is decades old.


Technology has changed over the years, as have requirements.

In the past, the sludge was treated, then dried under the sun in open fields, and then shipped to landfills.

Now, the drying process is to be done in a closed environment (to minimize odors): this requires more energy (e.g., natural gas) but takes much less space.


The plant was oversized in area as well, with a large buffer region to keep folks away from the odors.

Once the odors are controlled, some of the buffer-lands can be repurposed:

* they could all be dedicated to parklands: play-fields, etc.

* they could all be converted to natural habitat: restore the marshlands and burrowing owl habits.

* they could all be sold off (or rented) for housing or commercial development: make some money so that the ratepayers wouldn't have to foot the bill for the remodel.


The plan that was worked out is a combination of all of the above.

* The old drying fields will be used for commercial development, as will some of the buffer-land nearest the freeway.

* large portions of the northern side will be converts to marshlands, with the intent of accommodating the anticipated change in sea level that may result from global warming.

* parks, trails, and play-fields are included

* a large parcel is to be restored and set aside for the burrowing owls.

* the plan restores the riparian habitat along the Coyote Creek, and resurrects the long-lost "Artesian Slough" that once crossed the area.

* solar panels are planned for the roofs, and additional land is set aside for experimenting with other energy sources (algae?, wind?)

* this is destined to become a model site for sewage treatment / habitat restoration / marshland recovery, and so an area is set aside for an "institute" for the study of such topics

* and there is the actual treatment plant, with enough space for future growth, so that it can keep pace with the city as it grows.


The plan will take years to build out.

* Some wanted to build faster, so that they could develop their nearby properties sooner, but that would have raised the ratepayers rates higher and faster.

* Some wanted to wait some extra years, but parts of the facility is at the end its life and need to be refurbished or replaced.


It was an extensive and impressive design and review process, well run, with technical input from a wide-ranging support team.


Anyhow, you are all invited to learn more, and then to give your informed opinions and comments!


~Larry Ames, CAG member.