• Sanitary District 5: Serving Tiburon and Belvedere, CA

    Sanitary District 5: Serving Tiburon and Belvedere, CA

    The District serves over 3,500 households, collecting, processing, and treating wastewater in accordance with State and Federal Regulations under a National Pollution Discharge Elimination System Permit.

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Sani5 News


Upcoming Night Time Work this Friday Morning

Date: September 23, 2019
To: Neighbors of the SD5 Main Plant
From: Tony Rubio - District Manager/Chief Plant Operator
Subject: Upcoming Night Time Work this Friday Morning
In the District’s continued effort to protect public health and the receiving waters of the State of California, the District has been required to perform a cleaning activity during the low-flow hours of the night and into the early morning (between 11pm -5am), on an annual basis as preventative maintenance.
This annual preventative maintenance activity includes the cleaning of the grit chamber located at the front of the treatment plants office located at 2001 Paradise Drive. The grit chamber cleaning is accomplished via high-powered vactor trucks that operate to vacuum out all of the settled debris that has been deposited at the bottom of the chamber. If this activity is not performed on schedule, the District runs the risk of damaging plant equipment by allowing this debris to flow in to the plant uncontrolled.
The District understands that our neighbors closest to the plant – those in the Point Tiburon Bay Side Association, those located directly above us on Centro and Diviso streets, and those on Paradise Drive on the bay-side of the plant – may be affected by the noise and light emitted from the cleaning project.  The District is providing this courtesy notice to you, our Neighbors, to warn of our upcoming mandatory annual (only once/year) activity, which ensures the safe and continued efficient operations of the SD5 Main Plant.
The cleaning activity will begin on Thursday, September 26, 2019, starting at 11 p.m., continuing through 6 a.m. on Friday, September 27, 2019.
Please contact Tony Rubio, District Manager (415.435.1501, at ext. 106), with any questions.
We greatly appreciate your understanding while we conduct this required, preventative maintenance at Sanitary District No. 5’s Main Plant.
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The purpose of this notice is to inform you and your neighbors of an upcoming construction project in your area that will improve and rehabilitate the sanitary sewer system. The 2019 Sewer Rehabilitation Project for Tiburon and Belvedere was sent out to bid in May of 2019. The Board of Directors for Sanitary District No. 5 has awarded the project to Glosage Engineers, Inc., and the construction project is expected to begin the first two weeks of August. The duration of the project will be approximately 16 weeks. Please be assured that construction at or near your property, however, will only occur for a small portion of that time.

Approximately 4,300 feet of old vitrified clay pipe is being replaced. In some places, the existing sewer is located in an easement behind the homes in others the existing sewer is located in the roadway. The sewers are being replaced by the pipebursting method which replaces the existing buried pipeline by pulling a polyethylene pipe with an expander head through the existing pipe without the need for a conventional construction trench. There will be some digging where your individual sewer lateral connects to the existing sewer.

The work will involve mechanical or hand digging to connect the lower laterals to the new sewer main. The work areas will be covered with plywood or similar material and barricaded off. The District's  contractor will work with each property owner in determining where the sanitary facilities are located. Any paved, concreted or landscaped areas affected by the project will be restored as nearly as possible to the pre-construction conditions.

When your lower lateral connection is dug near the sewer main, there will be a cost-effective opportunity for you to hire the contractor to televise your upper lateral and view its condition. Since the connection is exposed, your upper lateral can be replaced at this time at your expense for a lower cost than you would pay if you did this work as a standalone project. We urge you to avail yourself of this opportunity to replace your lateral at a greatly reduced cost. You may contact the contractor at (510) 815-4505

The construction will be inspected by Nute Engineering for Sanitary District No.5. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Mark Wilson at (415) 453-4480, ext. 208.

Download the full letter from Tony Rubio, District Manager

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Employment Opportunity: WWTP Maintenance/Collection System Technician

Sanitary District No. 5 is seeking qualified applicants for the WWTP Maintenance/ Collection System Technician position. The salary range is $5,041.34/month – $6,755.88/month, depending on qualifications, plus excellent benefits.

Visit the Job Openings page for more information.

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New Private Sewer Lateral Triggers (Ordinance 2014-02)

Sanitary District No.5 of Marin County Ordinance 2014-02 has new lateral inspection requirements that apply ONLY if you are (1) buying or selling a property, (2) doing more than $50,000 worth of building or remodeling within a 3 year period, or (3) if there is a sewer main or road resurfacing project is taking place in a vicinity near you. Additionally, you may voluntarily have your PSL checked to be in compliance with the SD5 Sewer Use Ordinance when you are having work performed on the lateral without meeting any of the triggers. 

Exceptions from the PSL Triggers 

Your PSL is excepted from these new requirements if: 

  • It was originally installed or has been replaced within 20 years prior to the date of application for a building permit, listing the property for sale, or the road work of sewer repair. 
  • It was inspected within 3 years of the date the inspection would have otherwise been required and all necessary repairs were carried out. 

Complying with the PSL Inspection Requirements 

Generally, to comply with PSL inspection requirements, the following steps should be taken: 

Contact Sanitary District No.5 of Marin County @ 415-435-1501 or 2001 Paradise Drive and get additional information and questions answered about the new requirements 

  • Hire a contractor to inspect your PSL. Commonly, this consists of a closed-circuit television (CCTV) inspection allowing for the contractor and you to visually see the condition of your PSL, including instances of offset joints, root intrusion and cracked or broken pipe segments which would prevent your PSL from compliance. 
  • The CCTV inspection should be on DVD for submission to the Sanitary District for review. 
  • If your PSL does not comply with ordinance 2014-02, have your PSL repaired or replaced. 
  • If your PSL is free of leaks and in compliance with ordinance 2014-02 a permit will be issued confirming compliance 

Ordinance Effective Date 

Ordinance 2014-02 went into effect on March 4, 2015 District wide. 

Our District service area covers the City of Belvedere and the Town of Tiburon East of Gilmartin Drive. 

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Completion of the Main Plant Rehabilitation Project:

Historical Overview

The District, in 2010, conducted a condition assessment that found the main wastewater treatment plant well maintained, although considerable signs of aging were apparent. Due, in part, to the close proximity to the San Francisco Bay, which creates a very harsh and corrosive environment for the treatment plant’s machinery and electrical components, the main plant’s equipment was at or beyond its expected useful life and below efficient energy, environmental, and safety standards.

The main plant was last rehabilitated in the early 1980s, with the original primary plant dating back to the 1960s. It was anticipated that routine maintenance costs would rise to significant annual expenditures. The Board of Directors of Sanitary District No. 5 of Marin County, therefore, authorized a report for the Preliminary Design of the Main Plant Capital Rehabilitation and Replacement Project that was completed in 2011. Upon receipt of that report the District then deemed the Main Plant Rehabilitation (MPR) Project appropriate for the District's needs, and construction began in June, 2012, and was completed in October, 2014.

Update as of November, 2015

On October 22, 2014, the District filed a notice of completion on the MPR Project completed by low bidder Auburn Constructors, Inc. (ACI), of Sacramento, CA. ACI began construction on June 11, 2012. The total bid amount for the construction of the project was $8,922,300. The total paid to Auburn Constructors was $9,636,402 which amounts to an 8% increase due to change orders encountered during construction. Major change orders included: removal and replacement of the primary and secondary clarifier sludge skimming equipment, solids dewatering automation, replacement of 2 check valves on the critical wet weather pumps, replacement of the main switch board receiving PG&E power, and radio communications from remote pump stations to the Main Plant.

Overall, the project was a huge success for the District. The District remained well within permit limits for the duration of construction in spite of the multiple shutdowns and pump-arounds required throughout the project. SD5 and Auburn Constructors staff worked closely together on the project, producing positive results and with no accidents.  In the end, Sanitary District No. 5 of Marin County was left with an up-to-date, reliable and efficient treatment plant, which will serve the community for many years to come.

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Non-Chlorinated Treated Wastewater Released May 15, 2013


Non- Chlorinated Treated Wastewater Release from Sanitary District No. 5’s Main Wastewater Treatment Plant at Paradise Drive and Mar West Street

On May 15th at 6:45 p.m. a Sprint/ Nexgen contractor accidentally broke a small pipe while replacing batteries at their Cellphone Substation and caused the released of 3,300 gallons of non-chlorinated treated wastewater to a storm drain that leads to San Francisco Bay at Raccoon Straits, near the Sanitary District No. 5’s Main Wastewater Treatment Plant at Mar West St. and Paradise Dr. District staff notified the Environmental Services Department of Marin County and placed wastewater spill warning placards at the shoreline where the spill entered the bay. Bay water samples have been collected for bacterial testing to determine the level of hazard posed to the public in connection with water contact recreational activities near the shoreline. 

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State & Bay Area Awards for Pollution Prevention & Outreach

Sanitary District No. 5, in partnership with five other wastewater treatment agencies in Marin County, won the Dr. Teng-chung Wu Award in 2010.  This annual award recognizes Dr. Teng-chung Wu's dedication to improving water quality through- out his career and, in particular, his leadership in pollution prevention.

After Bay Area utilities spent billions of dollars during the 1980s to implement traditional treatment technologies, Dr. Wu believed pollution prevention was the most cost-effective next step in improving water quality.

To advance pollution prevention in the Bay Area, Dr. Wu introduced a collaborative regional approach involving many public agencies and utilities in pollution prevention.  His efforts lead to the formation of the Bay Area Pollution Prevention Group (www.bacwa.org).

Because the public is ultimately the source of pollutants in wastewater, Dr. Wu believed strongly in the public outreach and awareness elements of pollution prevention programs.  The award reflects Dr. Wu's pollution prevention philosophy by encouraging submissions from agencies that have worked together on pollution prevention projects or have shared their ideas and experiences with others to foster new and expanded pollution prevention programs. Awards are based on leadership, innovation, commit- ment, measurable results, and benefit to the environment and community.

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Paradise Cove Treatment Plant is Operational

The District has invested $1.95 MM on construction of the new Paradise Cove treatment facility and the new Paradise Drive sewer main. The new facility serves Paradise Drive residents from Trestle Glen to Teaberry Lane, including the residents of the Seafirth subdivision who recently decommissioned their private treatment facility and connected to the new forced main.

Though the plant is now fully operational, only a few property owners along Paradise Drive have taken advantage of the opportunity to decommission their aging septic systems and connect to the new forced main to contribute to cleaner, safer, and more environmentally sound sanitary service. The District has done its part. It's time to do yours.

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Proposed 2010-2014 Rate Increases:Community Forums!

In 2008-2009, the Board of Directors voted not to enact the previously approved 9% rate increase (approved as part of the last "Prop. 218 process"). It did vote to enact the previously approved 2009-2010 4% rate increase and has initiated a new 218 process to investigate rate increases which would take effect in 2010 through 2014. Stay tuned for more information.

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District Finances

Financial Statements Are Online

Audited financial statements for the District's 2010-2011 Fiscal Year, as well as the District’s FY 2012-2013 Budget, are now posted. You are encouraged to peruse them both.

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Preventing Sanitary Sewer Overflows (SSOs)

Despite the diligence of the District's maintenance program, overflows do still occur. Culprits include: diapers and other hygiene products that should not have been flushed down the toilet; fats, oils, and grease (FOG) that should not have been poured down the drain; and construction debris introduced into the collection system. In short, overflows are usually preventable. Overflow cleanup is costly and has the potential to introduce pathogens into the environment. If an overflow reaches a storm drain or watershed, the District is required to report the incident to environmental agencies, raising the potential for fines or litigation (under provisions of the Clean Water Act) by environmental watchdog groups. In fact, the District recently settled (for $17,000) with such a group whose cause of action was based simply on the fact that overflows had occurred.

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Backflow Preventers

If a blockage occurs in the sanitary sewer system, sewage will rise through a manhole and overflow to the surrounding area. However, if your house plumbing is below the level of the overflowing manhole, the sewage can backup through your house side sewer lateral and enter your home through your plumbing drains. Backflow prevention devices are designed to prevent sewage from entering your home and are mandated by building code as well as District ordinance. When the need for a backflow prevention device is overlooked or ignored, the consequences can be devastating.

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Environmental Initiatives

Water recycling

With cost estimates approaching $600,000, limited storage capacity and a lengthy payback period (40+ years), a program to deliver "Title 22" recycled water to the community-at-large is difficult to justify even if funds were available. Undaunted however, the District is pursuing opportunities with individual home-owners where their proximity to its facilities makes it feasible.

Alternative Energy

Although the main plant is located in a south-facing, "solar-power sweet spot," the District's facilities are without sufficient roof-area or adjacent real-estate for the installation of photovoltaic panels to make a meaningful contribution to its energy needs. However, through its participation in PG&E's demand reduction programs and through the use of the methane gas that is a byproduct of operations, the District was able to reduce its utility costs by 1.5% over the previous year.

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Smoke Testing of Sanitary Sewer Lines

Sanitary District No. 5 will be performing smoke testing of its collections system on September 28, 2009 and will continue testing through September 30, 2009 from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Smoke testing of sanitary sewer collection systems was initiated in 1961 at McPherson, Kansas.

The Environmental Protection Agency endorses smoke testing as a way to identify where infiltration of storm water into the collection system, may be occurring. (Usually roof drains or storm drains plumbed to the collection system.) Smoke testing uses no explosive material and will leave no visible residue.

The District will start testing in the Belvedere Zone along the following streets. Lower Beach Road, all of San Rafael Ave, Leeward, Windward, Edgewater, Lagoon Road andPeninsula Road.

During the testing period, do not be alarmed if you see smoke emanating from a storm or roof drain.

Please contact the District Office at 435-1501 if you have any question or concerns.

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New Paradise Cove Treatment Plant

Paradise Cove's new self-contained wastewater treatment plant is slated for delivery and installation in June and will replace an existing plant that is currently twenty years older than it's projected twenty year service life. The new 'plant' is actually two plants that will operate in tandem, increasing capacity, reducing the load on any single plant and also facilitating regular preventative maintenance. One plant can stay on-line while the other is undergoing maintenance.

Kudos to the District's staff for keeping the existing Paradise Cove plant operational and incident-free for over forty years!

The engineering firm responsible for installation of the new plant had planned to use a helicopter to deliver the equipment, but our ever vigilant District Manager, Bob Lynch, convinced them that he could have it delivered by barge at significantly less expense and without the disturbance to the neighborhood that the helicopters would have created. This saved the District between $60,000 and $80,000.

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Report on May 13, 2008 Discharge Event

On May 13, 2008 between 12:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. the main treatment facility located at 2001 Paradise Drive released 67,500 gallons of water into Raccoon Straits in the usual method.  However, the discharged water had undergone only Primary treatment and Disinfection, not the usual Secondary treatment.  Under our NPDES Permit, releasing water with only primary treatment is allowed only during extreme wet weather.  Therefore, the District immediately notified the State Office of Emergency Services, Regional Water Quality Control Board, Directors of Environmental Health, Marin County Department of Health Services and the County Public Health Officer.  Within thirty minutes of reporting, warning signs were placed along the Bay notifying the public to stay out of the water.

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Proposed 2010-2014 Sewer Rate Increases

Sewer Service Charge Increase Proposed to Ensure Continued Public Health and Environmental Protection

Although wastewater collection and treatment is a service we all rely on many times each day, it works so well that most of us never stop to think about it.

But now, a sewer service charge increase is needed, and we are working to inform our customers about it. Without the increase, the District will not be able to pay for critically needed upgrades, increasing the risk of having to pay far more to regulators for not complying. In the event of a spill, there could be astronomical fines, and potential damage to the environment and public health.

Although we have taken every reasonable step to lower costs and stretch funds, it has been determined that rate increases are necessary to cover the costs of the upgrades.

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Sewer Emergencies

24 Hours

(415) 779-9048

Dial 9-1-1 if public health or property is threatened.

Our Mission

Sanitary District No.5 of Marin County is a special District, which while meeting or exceeding all applicable local, state and federal laws and regulations, is dedicated to the protection of public health and the environment through effective and economical collection, conveyance, treatment and disposal of wastewater.