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Frequently asked questions

Some of these questions do not actually have answers, and it would be helpful if you wrote your councilman or congressman asking for some.
  1. Where will it be located?
    The propesed location for the 29 Palms Wastewater Treatment Plant is between Desert Knoll Ave and Utah Trail, just north of Highway 62. The northern border of the plant will be the wash that runs through town.
  2. When will it be built?
    The construction depends on a grant that the city received from the state, and that grant stipulates that construction start in 2024 and be completed in 2026.
  3. How wmuch will it cost?
    The estimate is something like $170 million, of which the grant might cover about half, or less depending on how much we actually got.
  4. What will I cost me?
    The city claims that you won't have to pay anything for the hookup...or rather, that it is their goal that no one has to pay for their hookup.

    Property owners in Yucca had to pay between $2k and $20k depending on various factors, like if there was a joshua tree in the way. Loans with good rates were made available through the state, but that's still an extra financial burden, a debt to pay. Perhaps some of those homeowners would have prefered to have gone into debt to buy a car, or an education for their kids.

    That's if you think you can hold the city to their word on this. The sewer system is going to cost at least twice what we're getting from the state, so that money has to come from somewhere, right?

    Question: We're told that we won't have to pay for our connections. But what about future property owners? If build a house in 29 Palms five years from now, you're going to pay for that hookup, and it will cost more than septic.

  5. Is there a monthly utility bill?
    Here again we have an estimate: Every household connected to the sewer will pay $60 every month. So add that to your bills. The rates are determined by 'household units', that is, the normal 'average' usage of one household. Businesses that get hooked up will obviously have higher usage, they will pay whatever their usage is divided by that household rate. So a business that uses ten times as much as this average household will pay $600 a month.
  6. Will it smell?
    Yes, it will. No matter what anyone tells you, the answer is yes, it will.

    Now it is true that modern sewage treatment facilities do a much better job of keeping the odors down than they used to. However:

    • Even the best-maintained plant smells in the mornings
    • We don't trust the city to be able, despite their best intentions, to keep the plant maintained to these exacting standards.
    • Plus, it's so close to a fault, an earthquake could easily break it.

      Yucca's plant gets complaints when it's windy, our plant will be much closer to residences.

  7. Will my property values fall?
    Oh my yes. We've heard an average of $20k, it's hard to tell exactly what the impact on our homes will be, we can't risk it. One realtor we talked to exclaimed "Oh my gosh, all their property values are gonna crash!!"

    You can expect your property values to fall, and for it to be more difficult to sell your proerty, within one mile of the plant, even if you are not able to see it or smell it from your house. Here at Stop the Sewer in 29 Palms, we call this area 'the Stink Zone'

  8. Why do all this then?
    A combination of two things. In general, not having a sewer system limits growth. We are one of the few towns our size that does not have a wastwewater system yet, and the State of California in general thinks it's a good idea for us to have one. There could definitely be room for a sewer system in 29 Palms in the future. This may be one of the only times it will be so easy to get free money from the state to do it. Sounds great, right?

    The problem is, the free grant money put dollar signs in some people's eyes, after all there are millions of dollars of construction money on the line. And the only way they could think to make it work is to save costs by putting it in our neighborhood.

    And to get us to agree to this they say they'll hook our homes up to the line for free, but it's not free at all, because it's going to come out of our property values and our quality of life.

  9. Why do all this then?
    A combination of two things. In general, not having a sewer system limits growth. We are one of the few towns our size that does not have a wastwewater system yet, and the State of California in general thinks it's a good idea for us to have one. There could definitely be room for a sewer system in 29 Palms in the future. This may be one of the only times it will be so easy to get free money from the state to do it. Sounds great, right?

    The problem is, the free grant money put dollar signs in some people's eyes, after all there are millions of dollars of construction money on the line. And the only way they could think to make it work is to save costs by putting it in our neighborhood.

    And to get us to agree to this they say they'll hook our homes up to the line for free, but it's not free at all, because it's going to come out of our property values and our quality of life.

  10. Won't we get a state mandate?
    This is the big boogeyman they use to scare people into a sewer. Yucca Valley, the story goes, had their septic tanks leak nitrates into their aquifer and so the state gave them an expensive mandate. "If we don't build a sewer system," they say, "the same thing will happen to us."

    This is simply not true, that is not what happened in Yucca Valley and the same literally cannot happen here.

    Unless we build this sewer! The State, you see, monitors every aspect of that plant. They're not looking at us right now, our water is safe. But if anything goes wrong at that plant—and there are a lot of things that can go wrong:

    • Human error: how much money will the City of Twentynine Palms have to hire the very best manager and staff?
    • Earthquakes: According to the land survey, the plant is '0.0' miles away from an earthquake fault, for which 'extra measures' must be taken. Expensive measures the City will have tocut corners on. Those measures only prevent contamination...what do you think our broken sewer will smell like?
    • Maintenance: A sewage treatment plant only stays fresh if it's maintained well. The City might not have enough money to keep it as well-maintained as it should be, but the State won't care.