Great question! The Paradise Sewer project has a several-year timeline towards completion if approved, and there are many steps along the way. Since we last shared an update in November 2021, there are some new changes to share.
But first, a quick recap:
Why does Paradise need a sewer?
The Paradise sewer is one of the most important projects for the rebuild of Paradise. Having a sewer would improve Paradise economic development in two ways:
Affordable housing: Without a sewer system, Paradise doesn’t have a way to build affordable apartments and condos because there isn’t a place for that high volume of wastewater to go. The sewer would be built along primary roads in Paradise, meaning affordable housing would be near evacuation routes so more people could leave faster.
Commercial business: A sewer would increase size, type, and number of commercial businesses in the downtown area. Septic systems can only handle so much wastewater, so businesses like restaurants, hair salons, and other high businesses producing high amounts of wastewater are limited in their services.
Where would it start and where would it end?
Plans for a public sewer system in Paradise have been in the works since 1979, and for the last ten years, the service area has been designated as a 18 square mile “triangle” including connecting Skyway, Clark, and Pearson Roads.
The proposed region would create an estimated ½ million gallons of wastewater per day, using gravity to flow 18 miles to the existing Wasterwater and Pollution Control plant off Chico River Road, operated by the City of Chico.
And now, the updates:
Why not build our own wastewater plant in Paradise?
Over 12 studies over the course of nearly 40 years have evaluated this question, and building a local option has been heavily considered. Many factors were evaluated, and it was determined connecting with the existing Chico wastewater plant was the best option, primarily for these reasons:
- Economy of scale. With a regional wastewater plant, the more people who use it, the less it costs and the more affordable it can be over time.
- Time and efficiency. Building a wastewater plant in Paradise could take a decade, which would be a huge detriment to the rebuilding of the Town. If all goes well with the Paradise sewer plan, construction could be finished in less than 5 years.
- Location. Finding a location for treated wastewater discharge is challenging with Paradise’s topography and location.
Will this cost Chico taxpayers more?
No, it won’t! The project is structured in such a way that the Town of Paradise would pay its share for the amount of wastewater and construction into the Chico plant. There should be no financial impact on the City of Chico from the Paradise connection.
What’s new in the timeline?
Currently, the project is in the Environment Impact Review phase. This means a report is being compiled to analyze the potential environmental impacts of constructing and operating a sewer connection from the Town to the City of Chico Water Pollution Control Plant.
The current draft of the Principles of Agreement are open for public comment and expected to be discussed at the May 3 City of Chico Council meeting. This draft serves as a precursor to a contract between the City of Chico and the Town of Paradise and outlines how the process works and what it entails.
Best case scenario: when would the sewer be finished?
If the EIR is approved, construction could start as early as 2024.
If all goes according to plan, the sewer could be completed at the end of 2026.
For more information, listen to Public Works Director & Town Engineer Marc Mattox talk more about the sewer project on KPAY radio.
Visit paradisesewer.com for more FAQs and how to get involved.