The Arcata Wastewater Treatment Facilities and Arcata Marsh | Screenshot from Google maps



After years of discussing and planning for upgrades to Arcata’s Wastewater Treatment Facility – the part of the Arcata Marsh that treats the city’s wastewater before pumping it into the nearby wetlands – the City is finally ready to begin Phase 1 of the improvement project. The Arcata City Council will consider awarding a $54,584,700 construction contract to Wahlund Construction, Inc., for competition of the first phase of upgrades during tonight’s council meeting. 

The treatment facility is badly in need of these upgrades. The infrastructure is old, parts of it are failing and Arcata has been cited multiple times by the Regional Water Quality Control Board for failing to comply with state-mandated discharge requirements. On top of that, sea level rise is a looming threat to the facility.

Phase 1 of the improvement plan includes a long list of upgrades, just to keep the facility up and running and bring it into compliance with state requirements. A few of the major upgrades include replacing the current chlorine disinfection system with an ultra-violet disinfection system, laying a new discharge pipe into the brackish marsh and construction of a new electrical building. Plans also include raising the levees to meet FEMA and City requirements to plan for sea level rise. 

Map of the treatment facilities from the City of Arcata

The City received two bids for construction – one from Wahlund Construction, and the other from North Coast Constructors. Staff recommends going with Wahlund Construction, which estimated the total cost of construction at $51,495,000. As part of tonight’s discussion, the Arcata Council will be asked to approve increasing the contract amount to  $54,584,700, to cover unforeseen costs and additional work that may be necessary. The costs would be covered by a combination of state grant funding reimbursement and city sewer funds. 

If the contract is awarded tonight, construction could begin as soon as Oct. 24, the staff report says, and would be complete in about three years. 


Prior to the wastewater treatment facility discussion, the council will open a public hearing to receive comments on the community’s unmet transit needs. The hearing is part of HCAOG’s annual unmet transit needs assessment, during which the agency tries to gather as much public feedback as it can and determines how to distribute Transportation Development Act (TDA) funds to help improve our local public transit services. 

So, if you have complaints about our public transportation system, now is the time to share them! If you can’t make it to tonight’s hearing, there will be several other meetings over the next month or so. You can see a full list here. You can also submit comments by emailing or calling 707-444-8208. Or you can fill out this online survey. Comments must be submitted by Dec. 31. 


The Arcata City Council meets tonight (Wednesday, Oct. 5) at 6 p.m. at Arcata City Hall – 736 F Street. You can view the full agenda and directions on how to participate here.