County supervisors call emergency meeting
December 27, 2010
Tuesday’s meeting, scheduled to last only 45 minutes, is intended for county staff to update the supervisors on recent storm damage and actions taken to restore roads and other local infrastructure.
The supervisors will also be asked to extend the Proclamation of Local Emergency issued by county administrator Jim Grant on Dec. 21. County code requires the supervisors to review the situation every two weeks once an emergency has been declared.
CalCoastNews has reported exclusively that officials with the San Luis Obispo South County Sanitation District (SSLOCSD) have allegedly under-reported the amount of raw sewage spilled during recent rainstorms in an effort to protect an agency already being accused of firing whistleblowers.
On December 18, a sewage spill of between 110,000 gallons to approximately one million gallons occurred when the influent pumps at the plant failed. Critics contend the failure could have been avoided if the Oceano plant had repaired a failing electrical system.
“Sewer lines are backed up and sewage is bubbling out of manhole covers,” said John Wallace, the district’s administrator of the plant that serves the residents of the Oceano Community Service District, Arroyo Grande and Grover Beach. “Everything that comes into the plant is being treated.”
However, with the pumps down, sewage was not entering the plant’s sanitation system.
Staff at the plant used the sewage flow rate at the time of the failure and determined that during the shutdown, about an hour and a half, approximately one million gallons of raw sewage was spilled into the community and local waterways.
Under pressure from the county health department to follow legal requirements and provide the public with the amount of sewage spilled, Wallace reported 110,000 gallons. Wallace elected to ignore plant staff estimates and instead have his staff, at his privately-owned engineering firm, the Wallace Group, determine the amount of sewage spilled.
Public comment will be allowed at Tuesday morning’s supervisor meeting.