Oro Loma Sanitary District is doing its part to protect the health of San Francisco Bay.

Oro Loma Sanitary District has completed a major upgrade to the wastewater treatment plant. Using a process that removes nitrogen from treated wastewater before it is discharged, the District is helping to protect the health of San Francisco Bay. Too much nitrogen (think fertilizer) in the water can lead to undesirable cycles of algae growth and decay, which, in turn, deplete oxygen levels and hurt fish and other organisms that live in the Bay.

Regulations controlling the levels of nutrients in treated wastewater discharged into San Francisco Bay are expected to become increasingly stringent. With this upgrade, Oro Loma is in a position to meet or exceed projected regulations for at least 20 years.

The new nutrient treatment process completes the nitrogen cycle but does it faster than would occur in nature. During the process, ammonia from wastewater is converted into nitrogen gas and returned harmlessly back to the atmosphere, which is 80% nitrogen.
The upgrade was designed to remove 70% of the ammonia entering the plant. After the first six months, plant operators are exceeding the design targets and achieving greater than 90% removal.
Although nutrient treatment has been around for years, Oro Loma is one of the first in the Bay Area to attempt the process at this scale. Success of the project is due in part to sound design, but credit is due to the plant operators who sought additional training and prepared themselves for a once-in-a-generation process change. Without prior experience, they took textbook learning and made it happen in real life.