Bay City Council
Provisions in the Clean Water Act, known as the 301(h) waiver, provide exemption from the requirement of secondary treated wastewater discharged into the ocean. Secondary wastewater is an improvement over primary treated wastewater. It focuses on the removal of suspended solids, p. H. balance, and biochemicals (BOD's). After conducting extensive research, The Environmental Center of San Luis Obispo (ECOSLO) believes that approval of 301(h) waivers is detrimental to human health, marine habitats, water quality, and recreational activities.
Enclosed is a letter supporting the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board's decision to deny Goleta Sanitary District's waiver renewal request. Reasons for the denial are outlined in the letter.
Morro Bay's situation is very similar to Goleta's. Morro Bay will have a hearing on its request for waiver renewal in January 2004. Morro Bay is the only marine ocean discharger still operating on a waiver, and we feel it is very important to oppose approval of another waiver.
This letter, which is being sent to the State Water Resources Control Board, hopes to dissuade an approval of Morro Bay's waiver. After reading the letter, please consider becoming a signatory and joining us in this fight. If you decide not sign on, but feel this is an important issue, feel free to use information in this letter to write your own.
RE: Goleta's appeal of the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board's denial of a 301(h) waiver.
Dear Board Members:
As you know, the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board (Regional Board) denied the City of Goleta's waiver renewal request form the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). For reasons stated below, the Environmental Center of San Luis Obispo (ECOSLO) supports the Regional Board's decision to deny Goleta's waiver renewal and urges the State Board to deny Goleta's appeal.
Under the Federal Clean Water Act (CWA), no person may discharge wastewater to the ocean or other waters of the United States except as authorized by an NPDES permit. The 301(h) waiver exempts municipalities from complying with this requirement and the City of Goleta's waiver allows discharges directly into the Pacific Ocean. The 301(h) waiver's design allows time for municipalities to come into compliance, yet Goleta has been discharging primary treated wastewater into the Pacific since 1985.
Goleta Sanitary District's wastewater plant discharges over 1,500 pounds of solids per day. The Regional Board projects that solids discharged by the plant will increase to 4,000 pounds per day in 2007. The Regional Board determined that impacts from increased sewage solids loadings due to new inflow at the Goleta Sanitary District (GSD) plant justified waiver denial and an upgrade requirement to secondary treatment. In light of evidence in the record, renewal of Goleta's 301(h) waiver would constitute violation of the Clean Water Act and California’s Porter-Cologne Water Quality Act, Cal. Water Code § 13000.
Based upon Goleta Sanitary District's data, the Regional Board concluded that a significant increase in solids discharges due to primary treatment would result in ecological and public health (recreation) impacts. Those increased discharges violate anti-degradation policies, section 301(h)(2) (impacts to a balanced indigenous population of shellfish, fish, wildlife, and recreation), as well as other laws. Any one of these violations mandates a denial of Goleta’s waiver.
Therefore, the State Board should uphold the Regional Board’s decision in Resolution R3-2002-0077 to deny renewal of Goleta's waiver, and require an application and schedule for compliance with full secondary treatment standards.
We are very concerned about the State Board's decision on the Goleta appeal because we find a similar situation with the City of Morro Bay's wastewater treatment in San Luis Obispo County. According to the Regional Board staff, Morro Bay's secondary treatment has reached its maximum capacity. Additional inflows to the wastewater treatment plant will increase the proportion of primary-treated wastewater and mass loading of pollutants into the ocean, adversely affecting water quality and violating the State Water Resources Control Board's Anti-Degradation Policy (SWRCB Resolution No. 68-16).
Also, preliminary data from the California Department of Fish And Game's Sea Otter Proposal suggests that protozoal parasites and bacteria cause many sea otter deaths. These parasites and bacteria are spread by fecal contamination of near shore marine waters by terrestrial animals or humans. It is our concern that this fecal contamination in Morro Bay may be a direct result of Morro Bay's wastewater discharge.
ECOSLO will actively participate in the administrative proceedings concerning Morro Bay's 301(h) waiver renewal. Joined by other central coast environmental groups, ECOSLO is prepared to vigorously oppose such a renewal.
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