Pala Casino, Spa & Resort

Project Details

  • Project Type:
    Waste Water Treatment Facility
  • Location:
    Pala, California
  • Delivery Method:
  • Constructed Value:
    $16.3 million
  • Completed:
    April 2009
  • Project Highlights:
    • New wastewater treatment facility and lift station retrofit
    • Four-month environmental clearance delay cut in half
    • Sustainable elements
    • Value Engineering reduced project cost by over $1 million
  • Awards:
    • DBIA: Western Pacific Regional and National Awards of Excellence in the Water/Wastewater category (under $25 million)
    • San Diego AGC 2009 Build San Diego Award
  • Download Datasheet

Pala Casino, Spa & Resort

Pala Band of Mission Indians

Not only did we get the type of wastewater treatment plant and lift stations we wanted within our budget, but we also got what we think is a first-class system that will perform well for us into the next two decades. Filanc has built us a plant that performs per design … It went as smooth as any project I have ever been a party to.
Garlon L. Banks
Vice President of Facilities and Property Development, Pala Casino, Spa & Resort
As the Pala Band of Mission Indians planned to expand its Casino, Spa & Resort they quickly recognized that its aging and unreliable wastewater treatment facility would be a problem. Pala concluded that their best option to meet their aggressive schedule was to use designbuild to deliver the project. J.R. Filanc Construction Company, Inc. (Filanc) and our design partner, HDR Engineering, Inc. (HDR) were selected based on qualifications, innovation, quality and a strong history of successful design-build project completion.

The project consisted of the greenfield design-build of a wastewater treatment plant and upgrades to an existing lift station. The new facility was designed and built to treat all wastewater generated within the reservation and all flows from the Pala Casino Spa & Resort. Utilizing Sequencing Batch Reactor (SBR) technology in concert with a microscreen disk filter, the new WWTP provides the capacity to treat 0.6 million gallons per day (MGD).

The tribe understands the value of the scarce water resource in southern California and sought a responsible and sustainable solution. The goal was to meet California Department of Public Health, Title 22 criteria for unrestricted irrigation–even though it was not specifically required.

The scope of work for the new treatment facility included:

  • Earthwork to balance the site including construction of three percolation ponds spanning approximately six acres
  • A headworks building
  • An administration building
  • Cast-in-place common-wall concrete process tanks for the SBR
  • Miscellaneous concrete and site installations
  • Procurement and installation of all instrumentation and electrical equipment, SCADA, mechanical piping, chemical systems and mechanical process equipment
  • California Title 22 tertiary treatment


Examples of Filanc’s achievements on the project include:


The project schedule was reduced from 20 months, as originally proposed, to 17.5 months to meet Pala’s urgent needs. Shortly after the award of the contract, the project schedule was further impacted upon notification from the Pala EPA and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Department that the project site was not covered within an environmental impact report that was previously conducted for Pala. As a potential habitat of the endangered California Coastal Gnatcatcher and the Arroyo Toad, the project site required a four month biological investigation and survey. Filanc mitigated nearly two months of this delay to meet the project schedule.


In accordance with the Pala tribe’s goal to be good stewards of the environment, the Filanc team included several sustainable elements in the construction of the new plant. Some of these elements include:

  • Water efficiency: With this new facility, the tribe is now treating its wastewater to a level equal to that of a municipal or State-run agency plant discharging directly into U.S. waterways. To gain a benefit from this highly treated water, a plant water pump station was included by the design-build team to supply recycled water to all systems requiring water. This effort significantly minimized the amount of potable water used at the plant.
  • Energy efficiency: Early in the project design, the team opted to house the motor control center in a separate structure to decrease the need for cooling in the administration building; this solution reduced both construction and operational costs.
  • Natural cooling and venting: The administration building was oriented on the site to take advantage of prevailing wind patterns. Operable windows allow for natural ventilation during favorable weather conditions, reducing the need for cooling systems.
  • Recycled and local materials: The site for the new wastewater treatment plant contained a substantial amount of rock and cobble that was too large to be compacted. Rather than hauling the material off site for disposal, Filanc proposed using it to build a large rock wall along a creek bordering the site to protect the plant from flooding. This solution not only preserved native materials but also eliminated the cost and emissions involved with hauling the materials off site. In addition to the wall, a recycled metal roof was used on the administration building.
Coordination with Stakeholders on Lift Station Retrofit

The existing lift station requiring a retrofit was housed in three smaller pumps in residential areas. In order to perform the retrofit, an extensive 24/7 bypass operation was required. Because this work was occurring in residential areas, Filanc followed noise abatement procedures and established an alarm system to alert the team in case a pump went down. The Filanc PM was available and responsive at all hours to handle any incidents during the bypass and retrofit.