The construction of a sewer system in El Rio can begin in several months, thanks to a $2.5-million state water board award to Ventura County, Supervisor John Flynn said Wednesday.
Flynn said the money guarantees that the area's septic tanks will be phased out by 2008, the mandatory date for doing so set by the Regional Water Quality Control Board.
The county has been looking for ways to fund the project since 2000, when the state water board ordered homeowners in El Rio and surrounding areas to stop using septic tanks and to build sewer systems.
Flynn said the county has raised close to $1 million for the project, but added it would not have been able to start so quickly without the grant.
El Rio lies on a vital recharge area known as the Oxnard Forebay, a 10-square-mile sandy section where water can easily filter down to aquifers under the Oxnard Plain. Those aquifers supply drinking water to residents in parts of Ventura, Oxnard and Port Hueneme, as well as unincorporated communities such as El Rio and Saticoy.
Studies in the last several years have concluded that septic system effluent was seeping into the ground water and contaminating it with bacteria that can cause vomiting and diarrhea.