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Not Going to Waste: A closer look at how Tehachapi wastewater treatment works

The Tehachapi Public Works Department has a full wastewater treatment facility on-site to process all wastewater that occurs within city limits
Posted at 9:27 AM, Nov 14, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-14 12:27:08-05
  • Video shows Deputy Public Works Director Tyler Napier explaining what goes into wastewater treatment in Tehachapi
  • All wastewater within city limits is processed through this facility, and it can be up to 700,000 gallons per day
  • Once it's clarified, the Public Works Department repurposes the water to use in farming


Whether you live in Tehachapi or are just visiting, you probably haven't considered what happens to your waste water. Well, it all gets treated at the Tehachapi Public Works Department facility, and 23ABC got to take a closer look at the process.

"As we walk out here, this is the beginning of the wastewater treatment process. this is our head works facility where all the raw wastewater comes in from the city," said Tyler Napier, Deputy Public Works Director.

Napier walks through the facility, gesturing toward a large machine in the middle of the area that looks like a very big screw.

Wastewater treatment isn't the most glamorous topic, but the Tehachapi treatment plant has the process down.

Napier explained that there are essentially three main steps the process goes through: debris removal, aeration and clarification.

"We average anywhere between 600 to 700-thousand gallons a day of treated wastewater here at our plant," said Napier. "When the water hits the treatment plant to the time the treatment is over is about a 24-hour detention time."

To remove debris from the water, it flows through the screw machine, aptly named the community screw. Then, it travels to the main part of the treatment: the aeration basin. This portion involves denitrification or the removal of harmful nitrates from the water.

At this stage, something is missing that may be surprising.

"We don't use any chemical treatment within the wastewater process itself. Everything here is done with biological…with all the microscopic bugs that break down all of the waste," Napier explained.

Once the water is cleaner, it moves to the final and slowest portion of the process: the clarifier. Clean water moves through the clarifier and is stored in what Napier calls "ponds" on site.

The treated water stays in the ponds until springtime. Then, it is re-purposed.

"We actually have about 82 acres near the airport that we farm. We do alfalfa farming out there," said Napier. "We have a contract farming company that uses that facility. They lease the land from us, and they grow alfalfa for cattle and things like that."

In the future, Napier said there could be necessary upgrades made to the facility.

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