YUCCA VALLEY — The new sewer system was used for the first time Monday in a home on Indio Avenue in eastern Yucca Valley.
The ceremonial “first flush” was originally set for summer, but the Hi-Desert Water District pushed back the schedule four times. Last week, the water district and a plumbing company announced the wastewater treatment plant and the piping snaking through the east end of town were ready to go online.
Jason Mahaffey owns the home where the ceremonial “first flush” went down the drain. “It’s quite a process,” said Mahaffey, who owns Action Pumping, the company that did the plumbing for his home and several more nearby.
He and his crew were ready for a busy Monday, expecting to connect around nine more homes to the system that day.
“We have 20 of them lined up in this neighborhood,” Mahaffey said.
Hi-Desert Water District offers a list of 25 contractors that it has vetted as licensed and bonded to install connections to the system and seal off old septic tanks.
Most of the contractors are based in the Morongo Basin.
Mahaffey pointed out that homeowners must use one of those 25 contractors if they want to be eligible for a state loan available to finance the connection.
“If they want to apply for a state loan, they have to get two contractor bids,” he added.
“It’s quite a process,” Mahaffey said of the procedure leading up to that first flush.
A property owner must contact contractors for bids, and the chosen contractor should work with the town to get the necessary permit to abandon the septic tank.
With the permit in place, the contractor will pump the old tank out, remove the top and punch holes in the bottom. Some tanks may just be pulled out of the ground, depending on what they’re made of, Mahaffey said.
That process just takes about 20 minutes, he added.
Then the excavation begins so the crew can lay pipe from the house to the Hi-Desert Water District’s lateral connection at the property line.
The town inspector visits to make sure the new line is holding pressure and the crew then backfills the trenches.
The cost of the operation varies by home, but the water district estimates it should be around $3,000.
Property owners can apply for a 30-year loan with 1.8 percent interest from the state or a grant with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Properties throughout phase one of the sewer system will be notified by mail when their connections will begin, said Jennifer Poland, Hi-Desert Water District spokeswoman.
“It’s anticipated that the connection portion of the project will not be completed until 2021,” she said.
Property owners can find their property at www.YVsewermap.com to find out how much time they have to connect to the sewer system.
Step-by-step information on how property owners in phase one must connect to the sewer system is available at www.hdwd.com/sewerconnections.