Grover Beach under fire for water violations
June 27, 2013
The Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board has levied a $35,000 fine against the city of Grover Beach for repeatedly failing to provide the state reports that would expose deficiencies in its storm water discharge program, according to a June 26 complaint.
In August 2010, regulators informed city staff that they were not in compliance with reporting requirements regarding its storm water sewer system which dumps into Meadow Creek. Five days later, city staff responded by email saying they would provide the state the required reports.
However, city staff did not comply which resulted in a notice of violation.
In December 2010, city staff informed regulators that they would submit the required reports by Dec. 10, 2010. And again, city staff failed to provide the state the required reports.
In March 2012, regulators filed another notice of violation against the city for its failure to provide reports for 2011. In Oct. 2012, regulator filed a third notice of violation against the city, this time for not submitting reports for 2012.
California Water Code section 13385 sets maximum penalties for waste water discharge violators. According to the water board’s complaint, the city faces a maximum fine for its repeated failures of $20,270,000.
Regulators, however, are permitted to lower the fine to no less than the economic benefit the entity derived from the violation.
Repeated failures to report waste water charge information may be done in order to mask violations and delay enforcement actions, the complaint says.
On March 14, water board staff conducted a limited inspection of the city’s discharge program and found that Grover Beach “is in violation or deficient in implementation of almost every general permit requirement.”
“It is therefore reasonable to conclude that the discharger’s failure to submit annual reports for the first three years of regulation by the general permit represents more than just reporting violations,” the complaint says.
The Grover Beach City Council can elect to either pay the $35,000 fine or request a hearing which would be set for Sept. 12. Nevertheless, city staff is still obligated to produce the three years of reports.
In addition, the city could face further fines of up to $30,000 per day for each day following the complaint that the city fails to turn in the reports, the complaint says. The city is also liable for any fines related to violations the water board discovers in the reports.