Environmental Press # 90

Subj: Blake pledges honesty: NEW LETTER
Date: Fri, 26 Jul 2002 00:01:15 -0700
From: Doug Korthof <doug@seal-beach.org>
To: voiceforveterans@aol.com (via CleanOcean@orange-county.net)


"An Open Letter to the Directors and Staff of the Orange County Sanitation District By Blake P. Anderson, General Manager July 25, 2002

"...we will begin to disinfect our effluent in mid-August, 2002, and we will [IMPLEMENT] SECONDARY TREATMENT STANDARDS at the earliest possible date...

"Our Commitment to Achieve Secondary Treatment Standards

"On July 17, on a 13 to 12 vote, the Orange County Sanitation District Board of Directors directed staff to begin the process of modifying our treatment processes to achieve secondary treatment standards...a 'legacy vote', one that determines the future of Orange County Sanitation District for generations to come.



"After hearing from the public for 45 minutes and following their ...discussion...the Directors decided to CHANGE OUR EXISTING LEVEL OF TREATMENT...TO SECONDARY TREATMENT STANDARDS. This means our effluent must eventually be 30 parts per million of Total Suspended Solids (TSS) and 30 parts per million of Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD). The board's decision, however, did not specify the treatment technology we must use. This gives us the latitude and flexibility to investigate and utilize the newest, most cost-effective processes available...

"At this time, we estimate that it will take 11 years...to plan, design, permit, construction, startup and achieve full operation ...to cost approximately $270 million...while we continue to operate...and while also providing over a $1.6 billion dollars of other projects...

"This does not mean that we won't be making progress in the meantime...Operations staff has already begun work to provide improved removal efficiencies for both TSS and BOD. IMPROVEMENTS WILL BEGIN TO OCCUR IN THE NEXT SEVERAL MONTHS...

"...we have employed the existing level of treatment for four reasons.
1...we have years of convincing data...that the beneficial uses of the marine waters off Orange County are adequately protected.
2...air impacts, land impacts and energy use...
3...we have consistently achieved all of the regulatory expectations of the State of California and the Federal Government as expressed in the permits they have issued to us and the observations and findings they have made of us.
4...we have achieved considerable cost savings...

"Nevertheless, the Directors decided to move to secondary treatment standards for several excellent and convincing reasons. First, the marine monitoring data cannot conclusively demonstrate that we haven't and can't impact beach bacterial quality. In fact, we have recorded incidents when our plume has been uncomfortably close to Newport Beach. Second, that upgraded treatment clears the way for future increments of additional water reclamation with the Orange County Water District. Third, that the public clearly favors upgrading wastewater treatment...Fourth, that the cost for doing this is affordable for domestic customers...Fifth, that the Sanitation District should show clear leadership in providing the highest standards of regional and environmental stewardship.

...On July 19, ... Regional Water Quality Control Board...adopted modifications to our ocean discharge permit that will authorize us to use chlorine bleach disinfection followed by sodium bisulfite de-chlorination. We expect to have this disinfection in full operation by August 12, 2002...It will mean that all remaining concern regarding the Sanitation District's role in contributing to AB 411 bacterial standard exceedances will be fully answered...

"What's Ahead

"Over the next several months, we'll be preparing a PERMIT APPLICATION TO THE EPA and the Regional Board that will NOT, FOR THE FIRST TIME IN NEARLY 30 YEARS, INCLUDE A 301(h) WAIVER. Instead, we will be negotiating an agreement with the EPA and Regional Board that allows us to transition our operations over the next eleven years from our current permit limits to secondary standards.

"Over the next few months WE WILL RAMP UP ADDITIONAL SECONDARY TREATMENT AS OPERATIONS ALLOW. THIS COULD RESULT IN APPROXIMATELY 65% SECONDARY treatment-up from the present 53%. Over time, as systems are taken out of service and returned to service for necessary rehabilitation and upgrades, this level will move up and down. However, we can substantively improve our effluent quality by "revving up" what we now have.

"Over the next several months we will provide progress reports to the Steering Committee and the Board regarding TSS, BOD, permit, and budget implications. And, we will develop a 3-, 6-, 9-, 12-, 18-, 24- and 36-month forecast of TSS and BOD effluent concentrations...I am confident that we will execute the board's decision in the most timely and cost-effective manner possible..."
----------------------------------------------END ADAPTED MESSAGE

That's pretty convincing. Anderson seems to be agreeing to follow the Board's orders. Whether he has some clever ploy in his bag of tricks cannot be known, of course, but if he holds to the letter of this promise, that's the best we can expect, IMO.


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