Mt. View Sanitary District is an independent district, formed in 1923 under the Sanitary District Act of 1923 (Health & Safety Code §6400 et seq.). The MVSD treatment plant was and remains located outside the City of Martinez in an unincorporated area of Contra Costa County.
The 1920s and 1930s saw an industrial boom in Martinez with the building of bridges, railways, and refineries. With increased population came the need for utilities to serve the few thousand residents. MVSD began serving the public in 1923 by developing a system of sewers that disharged to a community septic tank. In 1951, the District constructed a primary treatment plant which discharged to Peyton Slough, and in 1968, MVSD became one of the first publicly owned treatment works in the Bay Area to expand to provide full secondary treatment. Today, the District serves an estimated 22,000 residents in the northeasterly portion of the City of Martinez and the adjacent unincorporated lands.
Prompted by the 1972 Clean Water Act Amendments establishing discharge limits to control pollution in waterways, MVSD searched effluent discharge alternatives. Options at the time included pumping it to a neighboring facility, selling it for irrigation, or constructing a deep-water outfall. None of these options were feasible so the District set about creating the first constructed wetland on the West Coast using secondary treated wastewater effluent.
In 1974, Moorhen Marsh began as a 10-acre wetland. Three years later, 10 more acres were added including islands to provide protected nesting habitat for waterfowl. In 1984, MVSD made minor changes to its water control structures to allow the inclusion of 22 additional acres, which became McNabney Marsh. McNabney expanded to 69 acres in 1987. In 2014, MVSD produced the Moorhen Marsh Management Plan which called for significant improvements to the wetland. Improvements took place in 2017 and 2018 and involved wetland and riparian habitat enhancements, the dredging of marsh ponds and Peyton Slough to remove sedimentation, the replacement of water control structures, levee restoration, and visitor access and facility improvements including a new ADA trail and boardwalk, several new dip netting areas for students, and a rare wetlands plant garden.
Keeping to our mission of protecting the public health and environment at a reasonable cost, in 1994, MVSD became the first publicly owned treatment works operated in Northern California to use ultraviolet light for disinfection on a full-scale operation. The system uses the same UV found in sunlight, but in a concentrated dose, to destroy harmful microorganisms present in the wastewater. Through proper maintenance and care, the existing UV disinfection equipment and controls exceeded their service life. The UV Disinfection Replacement Project, which is nearing completion, will replace the existing equipment and controls as well as other assets in the UV process area, including the Class 3 water reuse pump station (with the addition of a hydropneumatic tank), the crane structure, influent and effluent gates, the motor control center and its associated programmable logic controller, process control instrumentation, and various other electrical and SCADA upgrades.
In 1996, MVSD developed the Wetlands Field Trip education programs, providing local elementary students the opportunity to learn about the water cycle, wastewater treatment, water pollution, and the wetlands environment and its inhabitants. The award-winning program expanded to include classroom experiences during the winter months when weather can make it difficult to visit a marsh habitat. Students, parent chaperones, teachers, and the community benefit from these programs through increased awareness, appreciation, and understanding of the functions and values of pollution prevention, wetland habitats, and the wildlife they support.
In recognition of its outstanding efforts to promote transparency and good governance, Mt. View Sanitary District is the recipient of the District Transparency Certificate of Excellence from the Special District Leadership Foundation (SDLF). The District has maintained this distinction since 2015, most recently renewed in May 2023.
To better help the community understand how the wastewater treatment processes function, MVSD created an online feature, found on our website and social media, in the summer of 2023. "What Does That Do?” shows how wastewater comes from our neighborhoods to the treatment plant, the processes the wastewater goes through for treatment, and our team in action to keep things flowing from your homes and businesses.
MVSD was the first publicly owned treatment works to be certified as a Green Business in the San Francisco Bay Area and continues to be a Green Business partner in the California Green Business Network, recertified in October 2023.