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Beaumont needs a $110 million wastewater plant project but isn’t sure how to pay for it

By in Press Enterprise on December 23, 2017

By Craig Shultz

Beaumont is continuing a project to upgrade and expand its wastewater treatment plant, but how the $110 million project will be paid for is still being pondered.

The project comes after a regional water quality board required the city to make the improvements. The plant must be expanded because it’s operating above a 75 percent threshold.

Mayor Nancy Carroll said the plant has ramifications far beyond meeting standards and serving today’s residents. Banning’s future growth depends on solid infrastructure, she said.

“Everybody wants economic development — restaurants, better shopping, movie theaters,” she said. “Unless you plan for an improved and more strategic response, you won’t get anybody to make that investment.”

The project includes advanced treatment systems that will produce recycled water.

But that will necessitate a system to dispose of brine waste. The city is working with the Santa Ana Watershed Authority and Orange County Sanitation district to get a permit to discharge the brine into the Inland Empire Brine line.

Beaumont received a Dec. 31 deadline for its expansion and financing plans, which were discussed at a Tuesday, Dec. 19, meeting.

Lloyd White, who just finished his term as mayor, said about 60 percent of the price tag is to upgrade the plant, which will be paid for with money the city has been collecting from a 2013 sewer rate increase.

But the city must find dollars to tap into the brine line.

“The plan is to fund it through debt,” White said. “The bigger question is, how are we going to pay for the debt.”

The city plans to pay for the project in part by again raising sewer rates.

A proposal to increase the rate 4.19 percent March 1 and 7 percent annually on Jan. 1, 2019, through 2022 was put on hold during a Dec. 5 city council meeting.

Enough questions were brought up to pause the […]    

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