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Functions of the Wastewater Treatment Plant

We provide preliminary, primary, and secondary treatment to domestic and commercial wastewater for the Big Bear Valley. We provide physical, biological, and chemical treatment for wastewater to remove pollutants, disinfect, and produce effluent, which is suitable and safe for reintroduction back into the environment. The preliminary treatment is provided by a bar screen to remove large items from the waste stream and a grit removal system.

We treat an average inflow of 2.2 million gallons per day. The amount of wastewater handled by the treatment plant varies with the time of day and with the season of the year. 

Primary Treatment

During our primary treatment, sand, grit, and larger solids in the wastewater are separated from the liquids. Screens, settling tanks, and skimming devices are most commonly used for the separation. Primary treatment removes 45 to 50 percent of the pollutants.

Secondary Treatment

After primary treatment, wastewater still contains solid materials whether floating on the surface, dissolved in the water, or both. Under natural conditions these substances would provide food for organisms such as fungi, algae, and bacteria that live in a stream or lake. This second stage of treatment can remove more of the pollutants – up to 85 or 90 percent. Secondary treatment is largely a biological process. Air is supplied to stimulate the growth of bacteria and other organisms to consume most of the waste materials. The wastewater is then separated from the organisms and solids and disinfected to kill any remaining harmful bacteria.

The final effluent is used for irrigation of alfalfa fields in Lucerne Valley. 

Laboratory Functions

The laboratory is responsible for collecting and analyzing wastewater flows and biosolids to adhere to federal, state, and local guidelines and providing data to operations for implementing process control decisions. The laboratory is a key function in a wastewater treatment plant by:

  • ensuring daily compliance with the Agency’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) and discharge order permits by measuring pH, biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), total dissolved solids, suspended solids, nitrates, chloride, fluoride, sulfate, conductivity, and total and fecal coliform; 
  • conducting wastewater solids inventory and microscopic examinations of activated sludge for process control; and
  • preparation of treatment plant unit process evaluations and making recommendations for process control.

Waste Discharge Requirements

The Agency must discharge according to requirements set forth in the following orders:

Santa Ana Order No. R8-2005-0044 Waste Discharge and Producer User Recycling Requirements.pdfColorado Order No. R7-2016-0026 Waste Discharge Requirements - Lucerne Valley.pdfNPDES Order No. CAS000001.pdf


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