Sanitation district’s objections shot down

October 2, 2012

John Wallace

By KAREN VELIE

All but one of six complaints filed by the South San Luis Obispo County Sanitation District objecting to actions taken and rulings by the Regional Water Quality Control Board during a Sept. 7 hearing were overruled Thursday.

Following a 2010 raw sewage spill in Oceano, the water board’s enforcement team proposed a $1.4 million fine against the district. State investigators contend plant administrator John Wallace and his private engineering firm The Wallace Group’s failure to properly repair and maintain equipment at the plant led to the spill.

Sanitation district officials claim that extremely wet weather in conjunction with a tripped electrical breaker in a supposedly waterproof housing caused the plant’s intake pumps to fail and sewage to escape. District officials elected to fight the allegations through a hearing in front of the water board instead of paying the fine.

At the end of the almost 16 hour hearing, the water board decided to delay making its decision on whether the sewage spill was the result of mismanagement or the weather.

On Sept. 12, sanitation district officials filed the formal objection claiming that the board’s procedures and rulings handicapped their defense. For example, the district argued that it was fundamentally unfair that its witnesses were required to testify in the evening when the air conditioner had been turned off and people were tired.

The district won one battle: district board member Bill Nicholls will be permitted to speak for three minutes prior to water board deliberations. Water board members plan to meet on Wednesday to deliberate and make a ruling.

 


9 Comments

  1. doggin says:

    Wonder if Nicols will be able to stay awake this time. LOL…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  2. MaryMalone says:

    Let me get this straight. You are attempting to shift blame for the sewer overflow at SSLOCSD on the RWQCB which has oversight of the existing facility at Oceano? And the board is to blame because a huge change in the approach to sewage treatment has not been done previously?

    Your arguments do not hold water. They are as leaky as the SSLOCSD.

    The board is not the organization responsible for operation of the plant. That responsibility has been in the hands of Wallace and The Wallace Group for decades now.

    I, too, am disgusted that the board did not prosecute this sooner. However, the board is not contracted to run the plant; John Wallace and his company are.

    In addition, we have nitrate pollution (and worse) already entering the groundwater in many areas of the state, including locally. You want to ante that by regulating that all sewage must be treated onsite?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

    • MaryMalone says:

      The above post is in reply to Truth’s post of 10/02/’2012, 11:44 AM

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  3. Truth says:

    US CODE Title 33 Chapter 26 section 1311(a) makes it is unlawful to discharge pollutants off your property before “pretreatment” (1317(b)) to remove toxic disease carrying and cancer causing pollutants.

    This sewage spill never would have happened if the RWQCB (Regional Water Quality Control Board) enforced the Public Health Code and Public Law 92-500 aka THE CLEAN WATER ACT of 1972. It is a “Congressional Mandate of the highest priority” to implement the “best available demonstrated control technology” to remove all pollutants from our discharge AT OUR PROPERTY BEFORE IT GOES INTO A SEWER, as to “PREVENT SAID POLLUTANTS FROM MIGRATING into our drinking water, rivers and oceans just as it did here and has done so many times before.

    It is the RWQCB’s SPECIFIC RESPONSIBILITY to promulgate this technology which has existed for decades to assist in the implementation to remove 100% of ALL POLLUTANTS and then recycle that water to be used over and over to stop our water shortage problems.

    So think about it…the RWQCB is suing Wallace when THEY are GUILTY of causing the problem in the first place! If the RWQCB enforced THE CLEAN WATER ACT there would NEVER be another sewer spill. Pollutants would be removed at everyone’s property and we would all be recycling our water ending our shortage of water…plenty to go around.

    The RWQCB and The Wallace Group are GUILTY of not enforcing The Clean Water Act which by the way carries Federal fines of $25,000 per day and up to 3 years in prison per day of violation. Sad when your own “government agency” is the real criminal!

    To appear as if they are doing their job the Regional Water Quality Control Board is suing the Wallace Group…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 14

    • sloslo says:

      “Pollutants would be removed at everyone’s property”

      So basically you are suggesting that everyone be required to have their own personal sewage treatment plant and water reclamation facility at their own house? Yeah, that sounds totally fesible…

      I have a better idea, why doesn’t the Wallace Group actually do the job that the district head (who conveniently is also their owner) hired them to do.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

      • MaryMalone says:

        THANK YOU. That post reads like one of Wallace’s cracker-jack fancy-pants Sacramento lawyers decided to hit the CCN boards and post some of their petty “gotcha!” attempts.

        Say, that reminds me of something a couple of things I learned at the meeting that I found very, very interesting.

        1. At least one of Wallace’s fancy-pants Sacreamento attorneys that showed up at the Sept. 7 meeting was one dim bulb. If the rest of the pack that SSLOCSD ratepayers will pay for were as stupid as this attorney, we need a deep discount on their invoicing.

        2. A good part of the defense team’s presentation by the Wallace dim-bulb team of attorneys was based on petty “gotcha!” stuff. What was really funny was that in at least one case they were completely wrong. The showed a vast ignorance of basic information we learned in our first year in college.

        2. The SSLOCSD board and John Wallace have been using scare tactics on ratepayers for months now.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

    • doggin says:

      That’s one ignorant statement. How is W/Q to intervene if the Districts monthly reports showed perfectly acceptable data? It’s Wallace as LRO/Administrator who is to blame for non compliance,fraud and misleading investigators by providing false data and violating rule number, The Honor System or self monitoring. Honor and honesty are not words Wallace is familiar with.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

      • MaryMalone says:

        Doggin, if your reply was to me, I don’t understand how it applies to my post and, therefore, am a little more confused than usual =)

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

        • doggin says:

          Nah MM, it was directed at “Truth’s” babble of the state being to blame. Sorry for the misplacement of the post. :)

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