Public Sector

Government
Market

Montara Water and Sanitary District, California

Montara Water and Sanitary District

Program Overview

The Montara Water and Sanitary District provides water, sewer and trash disposal services to more than 5,000 residents in the northern California coastal communities of Montara and Moss Beach and adjacent areas. Facing a challenge of upgrading services without increasing rates, the district wanted to implement energy savings measures to modernize operations without disrupting reliability for rate payers.

The Opportunity

The Montara Water and Sanitary District provides water, sewer and trash disposal services to more than 5,000 residents in the northern California coastal communities of Montara and Moss Beach and adjacent areas. In 2003, the District purchased its water system from a private, for profit company. The water system included a surface water source, eight active and two standby groundwater wells, a water treatment plant, three portable water storage tanks and over 15,000 feet of distribution pipelines. Along with multiple water supply and system challenges, the District faced high energy costs, extensive deferred maintenance, a small operations staff stretched to the limit, and a moratorium on new customers in effect since 1975 due to water shortages. To cover costs associated with the purchase of the water system, the District increased its customers’ water rates. District staff were eager to find innovative ways to address some of its pressing operational and cost issues without resorting to future water rate increases.

The Partnership

OpTerra Energy Services worked with the Montara Water and Sanitary District to evaluate the energy usage in the small public water and sewer district and implemented a comprehensive program to improve efficiency, generate renewable energy onsite, and increase system reliability. All of the District’s 1,700 water meters, which were over 20 years old, were replaced with new automated-read water meters. The water usage data collected by the new meters are read via a “drive-by” system, which saves time, improves leak detection, and increases billing accuracy and staff safety.

To promote long-term sustainable access to data, an abandoned structure was refurbished to serve as a maintenance and emergency supplies building and to house a unique PV battery charging system. A new 150-gpm well and pump station was constructed at the Alta Vista Ridge with tie-in to the existing water storage system. The District’s “one of a kind” proprietary SCADA system was upgraded to a more reliable and workable industry-accepted system.

The Impact

The system improvements installed by OpTerra are helping to support the District’s mission to provide services at an equitable price and to ensure the fiscal and environmental vitality of the district for future generations. These improvements provide significant operational and efficiency benefits.

The Technical Scope

  • Automated water meters replaced 100% of the district’s 1,700 water meters, which were over 20 years old.
  • Variable-speed drives were installed on all eight of the District’s active well pumps.
  • A dilapidated roof on a water storage reservoir was replaced with a new roof containing a five-kilowatt solar PV system. The PV system is composed of flexible, amorphous silicon panels for optimal solar power production at the coastal location.
  • Creation of one kilowatt photovoltaic battery charging system.