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Special District

Novato Sanitary DistrictCandidate for Director

Photo of Brant Miller

Brant Miller

Director, Novato Sanitary District
10,649 votes (22.98%)Winning
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Ensure protection of public health through continuous improvement of the Districts facilities and their operation.
  • Ensure the safety and well-being of our employees.
  • Minimize the District's cost to our customers, consistent with meeting Priorities 1 and 2.



Profession:Director, Novato Sanitary District
Director, Novato Sanitary District — Elected position (2013–current)
Retired Engineer, Chevron (1963–1998)


University of California, Berkeley Batchelor of Science, Chemical Engineering (1963)

Political Beliefs

Position Papers

My View of the Novato Sanitary District


A quick look at my history as a Director of the District, at my opinions on certain matters, and at the District in general.




I was “elected” to the Novato Sanitary District Board in 2013 and sworn in at the December 9 Board Meeting.  The election was not contested.




I moved to Novato from San Rafael in late 2006.  I became interested in Novato Sanitary as a result of attending a plant tour (I was once a Chemical Engineer, BS ChE Cal) – probably in 2009.  The tour introduced me to a technically interesting Novato small business that provided an essential service to the population.  I decided to take a closer look.  By 2010, I was a regular attendee at Board Meetings and in 2013 I decided to seek election to the Board.


Novato Sanitary collects waste water from its generators (the people of Novato, our customers), pipes it to a central location, processes it, makes it available for re-use to the extent practical, and disposes of what cannot be re-used in a safe manner.




I believe that Novato Sanitary’s customers, its constituents, want a District that consistently collects and processes waste water without spills, overflows, inadequate treatment, or odor nuisance and that does so in an economic manner.




Novato Sanitary operates about 250 miles of collection system piping and about 35 pump stations.  The District’s Collection System Master Plan (CSMP) guides the expansion, refurbishment, and maintenance of the collection system.  The current Plan, adopted in 2008, suggests that many of our pipes are at or near the end of their life.  The District is working on an update to the CSMP which may provide revised guidance re system life expectancy.  I have been and continue to be very interested in updating the CSMP and in ensuring that expansions and refurbishments needed to prevent system overflows and to control inflows and infiltration are performed in a timely manner.




The District uses capital improvement projects to improve its operations.  Projects vary in size from small up to the $100,000,000 new treatment plant constructed a few years ago.  I believe that the District should improve the process by which the Board provides policy oversight of those projects.  In particular, I believe that the Board should be more involved in the early stages of such projects so that any Board guidance can be incorporated with minimal disruption.




Future capital improvement projects might include local power generation, food waste recycling, increased non-potable Title 22 recycled water production, and treating waste water to potable water standards.  In addition, there are areas of emerging concern related to waste water. Responding to some of those concerns (phosphate or nutrient removal would be an example) might require additional processing equipment in the treatment plant or might result in restrictions being placed on our customer/constituents (steps to remove mercury from waste water required changes in dental offices, for example).  Three conditions must be met for Novato Sanitary to respond to new issues that require additional processing equipment: (i) there must be a technical solution to the problem, (ii) it must be possible to obtain regulatory approval for the solution, and (iii) our customers/constituents must be willing to pay for the solution.  If those conditions are met, then I would generally support implementing the solution.




Our current Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP) is state-of-the-art.  It consistently produces effluent water that is higher quality than required by regulation.  The primary environmental issue associated with the current plant is odor control.  Our WWTP is, unfortunately, close to homes.  There is some inherent odor generation that cannot be eliminated; however, continuous attention to operating detail can limit other odors.  I believe that current plant operation is doing a good job of limiting odors; however, it took a while after start-up of the new treatment plant to correct design defects and to learn to operate it that way.  I believe in continuously improving our operating practices to provide the best-possible service at the lowest-possible cost.




We have recently added additional treatment facilities in our WWTP that produce up to 1.7MGD or Title 22 (non-potable) Recycled Water suitable for irrigation.  We are currently expanding those facilities to produce up to 2.3 MGD. North Marin Water District has installed distribution piping (purple pipe) for the recycled water.  This joint effort will reduce the irrigation use of potable water, increasing its availability for drinking and other home use.




Waste water treatment plants produce a flow of waste gas from anaerobic digestion of biologically active matter.  The gas contains methane, carbon dioxide and sulfur compounds.  Novato Sanitary currently disposes of that gas in a high-temperature flare.  It is possible to utilize that gas to run a gas-engine driven generator which will produce electricity to be used in the plant.  Novato Sanitary has contracted for a design study of an electricity generating system which will be presented to the Board in the future.  If the study demonstrates that an environmental improvement would result and if the cost to our customers is not excessive, I would support this project.  However, I believe that the project management process used by Staff to move this project forward is defective because it does not adequately involve the Board in planning the contracted study and in defining its deliverables.  That could lead to unneeded dissention when the study is presented.




The Novato Sanitary District has no internal source of funds.  Nearly all of the money that we spend comes from our customers, either from property tax or from fees billed on the property tax statement.  Any incremental expenditure will result in an increase in customer fees.  Many of our customers are not wealthy and cannot afford unlimited increases in fees.  Cost therefore is a concern.  The District fees are reasonable compared to the amounts paid by customers of other sanitary districts.  We would like to keep it that way.




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