Environmental Press # 93

Subj: OOG: San Diego Waiver: Mind Boggling. Your Letter Requested
Date: Sat, 3 Aug 2002 4:37:29 PM Eastern Daylight Time
From: Jon V3
To: Jon V3

Dear Ocean Outfall Group (OOG), dedicated to ending the 301(h) waivers held by the Orange County Sanitation District, San Diego, Goleta, and Morro Bay:

If you want to have your mind boggled, read the document from the State Water Resources Control Board Workshop, July 31, 2002, from the Office of Chief Counsel, recommending that the decision of the San Diego RWQCB be reversed that would have reduced the permitted amounts of solids dumped into the ocean by San Diego.

See link: San Diego Waiver Workshop Document 7-31-02

This is not a long document, but the numbers and details are amazing. Seems that San Diego has steadily reduced its mass emissions into the ocean from 11,000 tons a year in 1995 to 8,888 tons in the year 2000, a 16% reduction in 5 years. However, for some unknown reason, the tonnage was predicted to increase suddenly in 2001 to 14,000 tons, with no explanationgiven, a 59% increase in one year. (However, actual emissions was 10,200 tons in 2001 according to San Diego Baykeeper). This is supposed to go up steadily to 14,600 tons in 2005. The limit required by EPA in 1995 was 15,000 tons. In an attempt to improve ocean water quality, on April 10, 2002,

 

 

the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB) ordered a reduction to 13,995 tons. However, San Diego was incensed at the temerity of the RWQCB to actually require a decrease in their allowed pollution, so they appealed to the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) to reverse the RWQCB decision. Now it looks like the State Water Board is poised to give in to San Diego and reverse the Regional Board decision. This is power politics by San Diego, with craven capitulation by EPA and State WRCB. It appears to me that that San Diego may have spiked their 2001 predicted emissions to get higher limits with their waiver application imminent, similar to salary spiking by public employees to raise their retirement pay. Obviously, San Diego is playing games with their discharge and we need to help.

You may help by writing the State Water Resources Control Board and ask them not to reverse the Regional Board decision. Here is a sample letter:

August 3, 2002

Chairman Arthur Baggett, Jr.
State Water Resources Control Board
1001 I Street
Sacramento, CA 95812

Subject: Draft SWRCB Order WQO 2002- (Waste Discharge Requirements Order R9-2002-0025 for City of San Diego, E.W. Blom Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant)

Dear Chairman Baggett and Members of the Board:

I strongly urge the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) to deny proposed order (WQO 2002-) that would increase the allowable mass emissions of total suspended solids (TSS) from the Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant from 13,995 metric tons per year (mt/yr) to 15,000 mt/yr. Such a decision is contrary to the intent of the federal Clean Water Act (CWA) and the Ocean Pollution Reduction Act of 1994 (OPRA), and poses significant risks to our coastal environment.

The modifications made by the San Diego Regional Board represent the minimal steps needed to ensure some level of protection of coastal ecosystems and public health and comply with OPRA and the CWA. It is unacceptable that the City of San Diego would pursue an appeal while virtually every other city across the nation is moving away from waivers. Of 16,000 treatment facilities nationwide, many are already treating to tertiary levels, while Point Loma is one of only 34 agencies that does not treat waste to even secondary levels. And this number is shrinking with the July 17 decision of the Orange County Sanitation District to abandon its waiver. Orange County's decision leaves San Diego as the last major POTW still operating under a waiver. The waiver provision of the CWA was intended to allow Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTWs) time to come into compliance with secondary treatment requirements in certain extraordinary circumstances. While ocean discharging POTWs may have needed some time to come into compliance, the issuance of waivers 25 years after the adoption of the waiver provision in 1977 has no place in protecting our oceans. With this backdrop, it is stunning that San Diego is not close to moving away from its waiver, and the City will not even accept minimal permit modifications needed to ensure compliance with federal and state law.

I am relying on the SWRCB to “preserve, enhance and restore the quality of California's water resources, and ensure their proper allocation and efficient use for the benefit of present and future generations.”

I hope you will agree, and reject the City's appeal in favor of the Regional Board's adopted permit

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Name
Address

Please copy and paste the above letter onto your own letterhead, modify and personalize as you desire, and send today.

Thanks. It will take a statewide effort to get rid of these obnoxious waivers, and wake up Gov. Davis and the state bureaucracy, that people from all over the state want a clean ocean and no more waivers.

Jan Vandersloot (949) 548-6326

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