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Waste & Recycled Water

### Central San: A Deep Dive into Sanitation and Wastewater Management

Welcome to today's episode of the Capstone Conversation. Today, I am joined by Mariah Lauritzen, who is the President of the Board of Central Sanitation, also known as Central San, in Contra Costa County. We're diving into a topic that often goes unnoticed but is critically important: sewers and wastewater management. 

Introduction to Central San and Its Leadership

I am Jared Asch, your host. Joining me tonight is Mariah Lauritzen, a dedicated public servant with a day job and a family, much like many of you. We're grateful she could take the time to be with us. Thank you, Mariah!

Mariah: "Thank you for having me. It's an honor to be here."

Understanding the Role of Central San

Mariah Lauritzen shares insights into her role and the organization: 

"Over the past four years, I've served as the board president of Central San. We've tackled issues such as net-zero emissions, promoting a DEI committee, and fiscal responsibility. As an engineer, I understand the regional approach required for water management, emphasizing the power of collaboration between agencies."

Why Should You Care About Sanitation?

Jared: "Why should people care about sanitation right now? What makes it so important?"

Mariah dives into the core mission of Central San: 

"Our mission is to protect public health and the environment. During the pandemic, we tested wastewater for COVID. We also address environmental issues like net zero emissions. Proper water management impacts all aspects of life, from drinking water to industry to recreational uses."

Regional Coordination and Infrastructure

Jared: "How does regional coordination play a part in your work?"

Mariah: "We're proud of our coordination efforts with cities. When we need to do maintenance, we try to align our projects with city projects to minimize disruptions."

Jared highlights the importance of coordination: 

"I chair a subcommittee at CCTA, and having that regional approach is critical. Traffic flows between cities, just like water management needs to be seamless across regions."

The Scope of Central San's Services

Jared: "Tell us about the district. Who do you serve?"

Mariah: "We serve half a million customers from Martinez to San Ramon, contracting with Concord to treat their water. All wastewater comes to Central San for treatment before being discharged to the bay, ensuring public health is maintained."

Challenges and Innovations in Water Recycle

Jared: "What does Central San do about recycled water?"

Mariah elaborates: 

"We aim to increase the percentage of recycled water. Currently, it's about 5% of our wastewater. We're exploring options like purple pipes for irrigation and both indirect and direct potable reuse."

Jared: "What's the goal for recycled water usage?"

Mariah: "Ideally, zero discharge during hot months. Coordination with agencies like Contra Costa Water District and East Bay MUD is crucial for implementing these large projects."

Public Engagement and Technological Advancements

Jared: "How can technology help in these efforts?"

Mariah: "We've expanded our IT to improve security and document infrastructure digitally. Automation helps us operate efficiently and safely."

Final Thoughts and Future Prospects

Jared: "What should people take away from this discussion?"

Mariah concludes with a call to action: 

"Understand the value of our work. Attend our annual academy. Push for regional solutions for sustainable water management. And if you live in Division 5 in San Ramon, we have an empty seat on our board—consider applying."

Jared: "Thank you, Mariah, for your invaluable insights. Remember, your vote counts for sanitation district boards, and they play a vital role in our daily lives."

Mariah: "Thanks for having me."



This extended blog post captures the detailed discussion between Jared Asch and Mariah Lauritzen, emphasizing the importance of regional sanitation efforts and advanced water management solutions. The hashtags ensure the blog reaches a broad audience interested in environmental and public health topics. This was written by AI.

A full transcript provided by AI.

Central San

[00:00:00] Welcome to today's episode of the Capstone Conversation. Today, I am joined by Mariah Lauritsen, who is the President of the Board of Central Sanitation Central SANS as it's known here in Contra Costa County.

Jared Asch: And we are going to be talking about Sewers and wastewater and why is that important for everybody? I am your host Jared Asch. Mariah, thank you for being with me tonight. We are, this is my first like nighttime recording one. We are doing it later at night to accommodate two people who have day jobs and families for me with little kids and a public servant who is just constantly working.

Thank you for taking the time to be here with me.

Mariah Lauritzen: Thank you for having me. It's an honor to be here and talking to [00:01:00] you.

Jared Asch: Tell me a little bit about yourself and your role at the organization.

Mariah Lauritzen: Over the past four years, I've been honored to serve as an elected representative on the Central Contra Costa Sanitary District, as you said, or Central San.

Since that time, I've. Become board president. And I've worked issues such as net zero emissions goals and promoting a DEI committee as well as keeping the eye on the ball on fiscal responsibility. As an engineer, I've worked in the Bay Area in. treatment and in high filtration applications where the specs were at the part per billion level.

And then for like how I approach water as a general philosophy, I recognize the power of water being approached on a regional level, and that it requires regional solutions. And then also I recognize the power of one water, where you don't make [00:02:00] silos between different types of water, and both of these require a lot of collaboration between agencies.

Jared Asch: My first question for the audience is, why are they going to care about sanitation right now? What does the organization do, excite everybody why they should be paying attention, and. Right now, because the agency does a lot, right? And, and we're going to get into that and it's not just your agency.

It's, you know, for, for the audience, we, we try to rotate between Alameda Contra Costa and Solano County of where we have speakers. So we're going to look at sanitation as a whole, and how we're leaving it throughout the region. But tell us, why do people care about this? Why should they be passionate?

And should they stay tuned in?

Mariah Lauritzen: So if you take a look at people's missions and values again and again, whether potable side or wastewater, you'll see protect public health and the environment. [00:03:00] And you saw, you definitely saw public health, we were testing for COVID in the wastewater during the pandemic.

And then for the environment, there's a lot of opportunity for. addressing environmental issues like net zero, as I had mentioned before. And so that's the basic concept. Ideally, when you consider water it will just open, you'll turn on your faucet and not have to worry about it. But it does impact your day to day life.

If you don't have water, you don't have development, you don't have housing, you don't have jobs, basically. You, need that , infrastructure there so that people can drink water, they can use it in industry you can use it to play, and, you also, returning to the regional aspect, you can't just worry about your own little spot.

People work in one city and they play in another city and then they go home and sleep in another city. It's [00:04:00] really, A regional concept and it will affect your day to day life.

Jared Asch: I chair a subcommittee of CCTA, the Contra Costa Transit Authority Board, and the one thing is city representatives have to report on special funding they receive from us I ask, have they coordinated lights and had meetings with other city on routes of regional significance?

And 14 of the 19 cities in Contra Costa all said no. And you know what the interesting thing is? What person stops at their city border, right? What, like, the traffic flows between city to city. And so I just found that you, you might have a couple of cases, but right? Orinda deals with traffic coming in from Sao Paolo and people cutting across Walnut Creek deals with everybody from East County coming over through Ignacio.

And so I totally get the regional approach that you're talking about.

Mariah Lauritzen: I mean, one thing I'm proud of at Central San is we do a really good job coordinating with the cities because if [00:05:00] we're there tearing up a road to do maintenance on our infrastructure, which has to happen, we're actually not the ones that hear about it.

The city is here about it. They're like, why are you out there tearing up our roads and then we hear about it from the cities but I think we do a really good job at coordinating we try to. Coordinate with projects that the cities are already doing so that we don't have to tear up the roads twice.

Jared Asch: Yeah, that's smart and I see a project going on near where I am and I think East Bay Mud and Central San and the city have all decided to tear it up. I don't think they were able to get PG& E on board at the same time, but it's a lot of trucks and a big effort, so I appreciate that.

Tell us what, What does the district do, like, the, and who do you serve?

Mariah Lauritzen: So I serve the central part of Contra Costa County, so I think from Martinez all the way down to San Ramon and everything in between there. We also contract with the city of Concord [00:06:00] to treat their water. And basically all that water that goes down your drain comes down to Central San.

We treat it and then we discharge it to the bay. That's the protecting public health in the environment. We clean that water to a certain standard that it's okay to discharge it to the bay.

Jared Asch: I think that's really relevant. How many miles of pipes do you guys have?

It's like a huge system, right?

Mariah Lauritzen: We do serve half a million customers. I actually couldn't quote the number of pipes, but it is miles and miles of pipe and in the majority is gravity fed, which saves people a lot of money. Cause you're not having to pay for all the pump stations if it wasn't gravity fit.

So a feat of engineering.

Jared Asch: And that's important because I believe something like 20 percent of the energy in California is used actually pumping water. I mean, we're talking fresh water from reservoirs, from lakes into the faucets in [00:07:00] places, but that's a large amount of energy. If you could talk about using mostly gravity and reducing that energy, it is significant.

Talk about what are some of the other major sanitation districts around the area, just so people are familiar with them.

Mariah Lauritzen: There's Delta Diablo. East Bay Mud actually does both potable and wastewater. And you will see like potable waters a lot of times cover a larger range because before wastewater was often taken care of by the cities and potable water was taken care of by private companies before it became a government entity.

 You'll see a lot of sanitation districts are sort of within a city. But I think we're very fortunate that Central San covers such a large area. Wide area, because it really does create efficiencies to have a larger area.

Jared Asch: That makes sense. And talk about recycled water. I know that comes up [00:08:00] a number of times as , we need more and more water here.

 The water that's discharged into the bay, but before that there, there could be a process to recycle it, reuse it. What's your agency do for that?

Mariah Lauritzen: We do have purple pipe. And that's the pipe that where we treat it at an even higher level than what we discharge it to the bay and then that's used for irrigation.

An issue with purple pipe is it can be expensive because essentially it's redundant infrastructure. So a lot of times with recycled water and you try to make it. As efficient and as possible in terms of how much pipe you have to lay down for it. So that's why you see a lot of golf courses, for example, that will utilize recycled water because you can use a lot of recycled water in one area.

And then there are other options. such as Potable Recycle, and there's Indirect Potable Recycle, where [00:09:00] you would basically augment your raw water by treating it to essentially a very high level at the level that you would find in aquifers, like deep below the earth and then you can add that to your raw water, whether it's a lake or even an aquifer.

Below the surface, and that can be used by the potable water system. And then there's direct potable recycle, which is the same concept. But you'd put it in an aqueduct instead. And that would again, go to a potable water plant to be treated.

Jared Asch: What's the percentage of water currently, roughly, that is recycled at the agency?

Mariah Lauritzen: Wastewater. It's like 5%. We are very interested in increasing the amount of water that we recycle. And it's in our interest to recycle more water because there are nutrient [00:10:00] regulations that are emerging in the entire Bay Area, which will, mean that we'll have to treat the water to an even higher level.

So it's an opportunity to basically realize we are spending this money anyways to reduce nutrients to the bay, we can capture that opportunity and have an incremental increase in cost to basically put in all this recycled water infrastructure, whether it's purple pipe or potable recycle.

Jared Asch: What is the goal?

Is it 10 percent in the next five years, 20 percent in the next 10 years? What's a reasonable goal given how expensive infrastructure is to build out?

 I would say the goal, which I won't put a time period, would be Like ideally zero discharge during the hot parts of the year, right? Like specific projects that would get us closer to [00:11:00] achieve that, like that's just as a philosophy, right?

Mariah Lauritzen: Just as a philosophy, ideally you'd recycle all your water, right? So I'm not saying that's Central Sands philosophy, that's sort of how I approach it, right? And when I'm framing how I'd like to approach these problems. So just wanted to clarify that there. This is

Jared Asch: your policy perspective, right?

As an individual, okay.

Mariah Lauritzen: Yeah, yes. But this is where coordination on the regional level is so important. So we do have memorandums of understanding with Contra Costa Water District and East Bay MUD to explore water exchanges. For example, we could provide water to the local refineries and then East Bay Mud or Contra Costa Water District could put that potable water that they're currently providing to the refineries and send it somewhere else where it's more needed. Those are major projects. I think we've done a really good job at [00:12:00] developing the relationships with East Bay Mud and Contra Costa Water District in terms of exploring the pros and cons of those projects. So they, they are moving forward. We just got a report back from East Bay Mud actually last week at one of our meetings that reviewed the various options that we had done a study with on what recycled water projects we could go through.

 That included your typical recycled water projects that are more like traditional purple pipe. And that also included potable recycle options. And now we're going forward with eliminating The ones that are not cost effective and then exploring the ones in more detail on what would be cost effective.

Jared Asch: I like that approach you're bringing in multiple agencies to serve a purpose, figure out how it can work for everybody. I also love the idea of you're going after a [00:13:00] couple of key industrial users, which yes, you could say refinery. Oh, that's one user. But you're talking about refineries that are using a large percentage of of water, right?

Correct. All right. Let's let's keep talking about that regional solution. You talked about that as a key priority of yours, something that you viewed. You talked about coordinating with multiple agencies and the cities. How do you, how do you see this as a regional problem and how can the region sort of coordinate better other than just the agencies you named?

Mariah Lauritzen: I would, Focus on a one water concept. So coming back to the nutrient regulations that are coming up, for example that requires utilizing recycled water requires coordinated coordination with the potable water districts, because they are basically in charge of the water in [00:14:00] their area. And.

Basically, if sanitation districts are basically not allowed to compete with potable water because they Originally needed to support themselves and put together the quality of the water that they were providing to residents. And so they were given the power to basically have stewardship basically over the water that was available.

Right. And obviously from a potable water perspective, you're very focused on quality. So that means that if sanitation districts want to recycle that water, they have to coordinate with the potable water districts because , they don't have that stewardship in the way that potable water districts do.

 Basically, the potable water districts sort of have to lead that effort. But since we have these artificial silos. Even though it's all one water it can make that coordination [00:15:00] hard. And the way some government regulations are set up, it can make it hard that Potable water would be incentivized to utilize that recycled water.

I guess maybe not government regulation, but potable water is not necessarily always incentivized to utilize recycled water because they have to maintain their water rights. and water rights are maintained by water usage, basically. For example, with one of the projects with East Bay Mud, they would utilize our recycled water basically during drought times, so it's 30 percent of the time.

They would need our recycled water, but if they're utilizing our recycled water all the time, that could impact their water rights, basically, and put those at risk. So, that sort of creates a disincentive, right? And so, that creates The emphasis on making this [00:16:00] dance where you coordinate so that you don't threaten those water rights, while at the same time, you do the work.

It's, it can occasionally be like threading a needle.

Jared Asch: Unless you're the one person watching the YouTube and you're just listening, which most of the audience does, my face is like perplexed by the simplicity and complexity of that situation all at the same time.

Mariah Lauritzen: Well, think about how water rights were first created.

I know I'm probably getting into

Jared Asch: No, this comes up so, hit us.

Mariah Lauritzen: Water rights were originally created with mining rights, right? Think about how mining works. You go into an area you were, basically your right to mine was based on if you were utilizing what was in that area effectively.

And it's an extractive process but water needs to be in a sustainable [00:17:00] process. You can't just like extract all the water, but you still have that legal basis that originally was established where water rights imitated mining rights at the very beginning of the state's history. And we still have some of those structures in the law.

Jared Asch: That's a whole Conversation by itself. I want to tackle more specifically, you talked about East Bay mud and they would only use the recycled water during drought time. So do you have to store that up and pay for that infrastructure cost of storing that water? Or you just dump it in the bay until they say we're ready.

Then we'll take it.

Mariah Lauritzen: This is a point in the process where we're exploring the options, but essentially it would be. At this moment, since it doesn't include, the scope is not included in terms of creating a new reservoir, it would be just dumping the bay at this moment. . you do see reservoir [00:18:00] expansions in the Bay Area.

I mean, Contra Costa Water District is expanding their reservoir right now. That that's not in the scope of the project that was Being examined with our memorandum of understanding, but obviously reservoir expansions can make those projects, even more valuable, basically, if you were to pursue them so you could pursue a reservoir expansion in coordination with a project that was just increasing the purity of the water that central sand produces.

Thank you very much.

Jared Asch: How pure can this water become? Because everybody who's listening might be, well not everybody, at least one person is having the thought, wait, you're talking about what I flushed down the sink and the toilet, you're talking about, because it all goes out one pipe in each house, right?

 You're talking about cleaning it to a level that people can drink, that's [00:19:00] very different than, to go into a reservoir, that's very different than a golf course, right?

Mariah Lauritzen: Right. Would be cleaning it to a level that they would add, add it to then the raw water system. So it wouldn't be going straight into potable water, just to make that clear.

But, Basically, we're cleaning it to such a point that when we add it to raw water, the raw water actually contaminates the water that we would be producing to pursue a potable recycle option. So for potable recycle, you're sending it through, through Reverse osmosis as one example of the treatment that it goes through.

It's also got oxidizers and stuff. But I like to focus on reverse osmosis. Basically they have membranes that you can make so small that only certain molecules can go through. Think about an H H2O you can make a [00:20:00] membrane that basically the water can get through and that creates a very high purity of water such that if you drink it, which you could drink it, it would actually suck the salts out of your body, so you wouldn't actually want to drink it because it is actually it would make it so that the salts in your cells basically were sucked out. And so you actually wouldn't want to drink this water. It actually has to have minerals added to it. And that's why you just add it to the raw water as a raw water augmentation.

Jared Asch: Okay, so many interesting questions there. Maybe we're getting more science and less policy now. Oh, but okay. First, what's in the regular water that I'm taking in my body that has the salt and everything else, right.

I guess I never thought of that. I should have asked when we did the water episode, ,

Mariah Lauritzen: I mean, so like there are like minerals and water right? Just

Jared Asch: [00:21:00] naturally flowing through.

Mariah Lauritzen: You have too pure of water, it will instantly like. Get items from the surroundings, basically. So, you could potentially dissolve your pipes if your water was too pure because the water would be so pure that it'd leach from the pipes, right?

You've heard of, like, hard water, for example. Yeah. Calcium, right? Like, minerals in the water. And there need to be minerals in the water for you to actually drink it, right? Because otherwise it'd be so pure that it'd be, it'd do to your body what it can do to pipes if it's too pure, right?

Jared Asch: Okay. So I'll pivot and ask what happens to the rest of the stuff that you take out?

Mariah Lauritzen: That becomes a brine issue, this is something where I like to compare basically desalination with potable recycled. They're kind of like the same processes, but desalination needs to take [00:22:00] salt out, but our process only needs to take out solids, basically nutrients.

And so that brine is a lot less hazardous than the brine that is produced from desalination that concentrates the salt from the ocean, right? So it's Much easier to manage than the brine from desalination, essentially.

Jared Asch: And where does all that brine go when you're done with it? Does that get flushed into the bay, or what happens to it all?

Mariah Lauritzen: We haven't gotten to, like, the solution of what we would do with brine, but there are options. So you can flush it to the bay. You can also try to sell it to farmers, because our brine wouldn't have, like, Salt in it, it could potentially be reused that way.

We have an incinerator at Central San and it could potentially be used in our incinerator where we basically power our. Portions of our plant with [00:23:00] some of the solids that we produce. So those are three potential options. You develop them out, see what's most cost effective and what's easiest to implement.

Jared Asch: I mean, that's, that's really cool. When you talk about net zero emissions, you're talking about. Using the waste materials and using it to fuel a plant or your facilities, you're using it to help grow crops. It's a really sort of interesting process, and how complicated it is, and how fortunate people don't realize, , Everything that goes into that line item on our property tax bill.

Mariah Lauritzen: Well, hopefully you see it all as worth it now. But just, I would actually like to touch on that. I do think rate fatigue. I don't think I know rate fatigue is the real thing. And all the board members at Central San are very cognizant of it. We definitely don't want any rate [00:24:00] spikes. We definitely want to utilize.

The money that's been entrusted to us effectively and get you the most bang for your buck. So a lot of attention is paid towards utilizing that money effectively.

Jared Asch: As somebody who lives in your district, I appreciate that. And I know that it's, you know, your biggest cost is long term infrastructure.

 As it is with with the water agencies itself and how do you build that out paying for it for, for years to come. Let's talk about net zero emissions and what else are you doing to reduce, you know, your carbon footprint and, and energy use here since we were just touching on that.

Mariah Lauritzen: We have created our baseline of what our carbon production essentially is.

And now we're working on developing the goals for things that we're actively doing now. We do have solar panels. We have a lot of land around our [00:25:00] facility. You can imagine people don't necessarily want to live right next to us. So we have buffer land and we have created some solar panels on a portion of that land.

 Lots of agencies in California are putting their fleets over to electric. And so that's something that we're basically starting this year examining and putting our, Our vehicles as much as possible to electric, obviously, for some of the larger vehicles, there aren't options for those yet.

But that's on our radar to basically convert over to electric vehicles.

 I think the way you mitigate those costs is through planning. So like our five year program, we have a capital improvements budget, obviously for upcoming projects.

And we actually have so much work that it's hard to execute on it all because there, You [00:26:00] just need to put it in the right sequence because you can't work on every part of the plant all at once. You need to keep the plant going 24 hours a day in seven days a week.

You plan that infrastructure so that you can maintain it. And it does require a lot of money and that can result in spikes because like you put the infrastructure in and then it wears out and then you have to replace things.

 Basically, we try to plan our infrastructure replacement so that we don't have spikes in rates and, it doesn't burden the consumer too much.

Jared Asch: Now a lot of your pipes, which you are replacing them as you indicated on residential streets, right? My house was built in the 1960s. 60 plus years. What are the lifespan of some of these pipes that are going into people's yards? What is the the danger of that?

Educate the consumer part of us [00:27:00] now.

Mariah Lauritzen: The first thing I'd like to educate is like we have our pipes that we maintain, but Your homeowners or renters who have to deal with it if the homeowners don't maintain the pipes, they have a connection to our infrastructure that they are responsible for maintaining.

And a lot of people don't realize that. And it can come as a big expense if suddenly it breaks and obviously you have to repair it. So, Central San does have a program for that where we basically give financing to homeowners to help them replace that infrastructure so that it can be paid out over a long time period instead of a huge bill that hits you all at once. Just to. Pitch that really fast to all the homeowners. It will also help us because like if there are cracks in your pipes where rain can leak in, like when there's a heavy rain, that water goes [00:28:00] into our infrastructure and makes it a makes it more difficult for us to manage heavy rain, basically because then we have to size for that amount of water that's coming through.

 There's my pitch to the homeowners for Can you repeat the original question before I got on my pitch?

Jared Asch: Yeah, no, that was great. It was, it was really how, how sturdy is that infrastructure, right? How long was it made to last for built in the 60s?

Mariah Lauritzen: Yeah, so it can last a really long time. It can last decades, right?

I mean, that's why there's concern about lead pipes, right? Because obviously we don't put lead pipes in anymore and we haven't in forever. But the United States infrastructure, you know, has put in lead pipes previously. And so now we have to replace all of this. We don't really have issue just to that, that's just an example on how things can stay [00:29:00] for decades basically.

We have a program where we track all our pipes. We actually have pictures of every single manhole in our in our area. So that tells you the detail that we go into and making sure that we have documented what pipes are where and how we maintain them, basically.

Jared Asch: And I see them out. So I learned during the, 2023 of all the atmospheric rivers that there was a. Huge pipe that connects half my neighborhood through the other half in what, what is a dry creek during the year, but it's all that catches all the rain runoff right from from everywhere in the neighborhood and flows tremendously.

I mean, last year, I think it flowed for 6. 7 months and I've never seen it, go that long. But I learned that there's a huge pipe that connects through for central sands and actually comes right in between my [00:30:00] neighbor's fence and my fence. And that isn't my pipe, right? That's from my house out to the street that there's this other 1 cutting in and.

 I was talking to the guy and he said, yeah, that should have been in your housing disclosures. I'm like, no, that wasn't. I'm like, so I didn't, and I went back and I looked that night, like I was like, whoa, what is here? But I give them credit because he, I think they were out there. I could see them that area from my window at my desk.

I think they were out there two or three times last year checking on it. And the sewer Relatively in front of my house, that sewer grate that you talked about having the images of, I think once a quarter, they know that it needs to be clean and it's like a flagged area. So I feel relatively like they're on it.

They come out with a truck for a couple hours and are paying attention to it. So I appreciate the workers being on top of, of that.

Mariah Lauritzen: We do have a lot of easements. And it does. Occasionally create conflicts, like imagine if you're a homeowner and you [00:31:00] didn't get any of your disclosures and then you build something over a pipe and Central San has an easement, basically, and if we need access to the pipette.

We need access to the pipe, right. One thing Central San has been putting the effort in in recent years is basically trying to move. If we can move those pipes to the roads, so that we don't necessarily need an easement to your backyard that's not possible in every area, but in areas where it is possible, we are trying to move our pipes to the roads so that they're not.

Easements to your backyard.

Jared Asch: Well, I, I appreciate it either way. And I think my point in there was I really appreciate the workforce being on top of like key areas right after the storms, making sure it was safe that they're cleaning out the system. I guess 2, last questions 1 on technology. How are you guys embracing new technology in [00:32:00] everything?

Mariah Lauritzen: We have been expanding our IT personnel partly for security, right? Because we don't want to be one of those people who, one of those agencies that are hit with A ransomware or something like that. So we've done a great job at just increasing our security because we recognize the risk and we don't want to be spending money on things like ransomware, basically.

I did mention the manhole pictures. That was actually a technological improvement to basically have digital documentation of everything and that was an upgrade in digital technology. I don't think people are necessarily aware of all the controls that go into the plant and running the plant But without that it would be very difficult to run the plant, and if every time you had to turn a valve, you have to send an operator out there, which in turn potentially puts the operator at risk [00:33:00] depending on where the valve is, how high it is stuff like that.

 A lot of that is automated. And the operators can run it from the board. For

Jared Asch: the image of Homer Simpson working at his desk in the nuclear power plant just popped into my head. Right. And all the technology, it's just pushing a button at this point. Right.

Mariah Lauritzen: Yeah. And it definitely helps. Like I can't count the number of hours I've done with just documenting.

Is this file fail closed or failed open in my own job as an engineer? Because that's part of safety is if there's an emergency happening. Is this valve supposed to fail open or fail closed? And how does that affect the rest of the unit, basically? It's not only for running efficiently, but also for safety.

Jared Asch: What else do you want people to leave here with? What else should we know about the sanitation district?

Mariah Lauritzen: Well, ideally you don't worry about us, ever. But hopefully you do know about us, and we do have an [00:34:00] academy every year.

For those who wish to attend, I think this year it's going to be happening early summer, late spring. Also, if you're into activism, I would definitely encourage your sanitation districts, your potable districts to look at water regionally and create solutions regionally, because that's how we'll be able to create sustainable solutions that will get us through essentially what is a new normal, the constant drought.

It's not going away. We're going to need water supply. And honestly, We've used up our water supply. The next supply, the next drop of water is recycled water, whether that's purple pipe or potable reuse. So definitely push your elected representatives to take recycled water in all its forms seriously.

Jared Asch: Yeah, I appreciate that. And remember as, as you're listening to this, that you vote for your sanitation district probably [00:35:00] gets a low turnout, but they have a couple of of seats, no matter where you are on the November ballot.

Mariah Lauritzen: Actually, I do want to comment on that. Yeah. We just switched from at large districts to individual districts.

And there is a district in Central San that is empty right now. That's Division 5 in San Ramon.Soif you're interested in being on the Central Sand Board and you live in San Ramon. It's a great opportunity right now that that division is empty.

Jared Asch: There you go. Please apply and, and reach out to the district if you are interested and believe you can serve in that capacity.

I appreciate it. Mariah Loretzen President of the Board of the Central Sanitation District here in Contra Costa County. I appreciate your time tonight.

Thank you.

Mariah Lauritzen: Thanks for having me.


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