Sanitation plant’s continuing violations costly to community

December 19, 2012

The South San Luis Obispo County Sanitation District was slapped with another notice of violation on Tuesday for continuing environmental failures at the plant which are likely to result in more fines.

Investigators from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board found numerous violations during an inspection earlier this year. Many of the violations discovered by regulators were first pointed out by several whistle blowers through CalCoastNews more than two years ago

John Wallace is the chief administrator of the district that provides services to about 38,000 customers in Arroyo Grande, Grover Beach and Oceano. He is also owner and president of the Wallace Group, a private engineering consulting firm located in San Luis Obispo that receives from $50,000 to $80,000 a month for plant administration and engineering services.

Former employees contend that John Wallace, the administrator of the sanitation district, has been funneling thousands of dollars to his private engineering company while failing to properly maintain the aging plant.

In the Dec. 18 notice of violation, regulators said that four releases of improperly treated sewage into the ocean during the past few months were under reported because of the plant’s broken SCADA system, an alarm system that reports failures at the treatment plant.

In 2008, Wallace received a $4,500 bid for a new SCADA system after the plant’s old system had malfunctioned. Instead of accepting the bid, Wallace elected to purchase a system that his Wallace Group employees could install and reconfigure.

Currently, that alarm system has been down, aside for several short stints, for more than three years while Wallace Group employees attempt to make the system work at a cost of more than $52,000 as of October, 2009.

Wallace told CalCoastNews that the alarm system he selected to purchase does not compare to the one that cost $4,500. He said the system he is working to implement is superior.

Several years ago, a complaint was filed with the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA). It said that the Oceano based sanitation plant was violating safety procedures by employing untrained temporary employees.

In Tuesday’s NOV, regulators again point out that the plant’s administration has hired untrained personnel to work with chemicals, which violates the plant’s operating permit.

The district has until Feb. 1 to address the plants violations and deficiencies before the state levies fines or takes further regulatory action.



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This is starting to look like Erin Brockovich part 2. Wallace, Ferrara and Nicols are PG&E big wigs and Seitz is the corporate attorney protecting the good ole boys club. Endless busts, failure to protect the environment and lies, lies and lies. Only problem is that both Wallace and Seitz are public servants using our tax dollars to screw us over and over again and again. Is it not Seitz’s job as a public servant collecting public dollars to protect the public? He is clearly protecting the interests of his wife’s former boss and his personal friend John Wallace and Co. Seitz is not a public servant, he is NOT acting in the peoples best interest, wake up and demand honest legal council for the District.

Then we have Nicolls, receiving an recent award for his service to the District. The man who was personally notified of employee concerns long before any of this became NOV’ s , fines or legal matters. He was asked to intervene while holding full confidentiality to the plants staff because the Districts employee hand book, written by Wallace no less, warns employees if they go over Wallace’s head its termination for them. Like a rat Nicolls ran straight to Wallace with staffs letter in hand. Wallace then began terminating employees and threatening them to save his little gold mine of public funds and save his rotting face. Its obviously to late to save face, the damage is done and the price to the public keeps going up in leaps and bounds.

Published in today’s TT, quoted from Seitz himself “It is unfortunate that instead of communicating with us in terms of these types of issues, they choose to confront instead of resolve,” Sietz said.

Well Seitz, you claim to be an educated man but here’s an basic theory for you that’s evidently over your head. Try resolving the decades old problems, and you wont get confronted.

I have seen the surfriders people at AG city council meetings for atleast a year asking tony Ferrera to do something, come to one of their meetings ect. But Tony has been to one of their meetings AND still does nothing as a board member of Sanitation board.

I have wanted Tony to step dowm from his mayoral roll for some time. The reason is the city just keeps giving the Wallace Group bids over and over agian. tony and John must be very tight because Wallace Group knows AG is going to hire them and there is no such thing as open bidding on a job.

As a citizen of AG I have been disappointed with Tony for some time. I wish someone who was qualified would run against this moron. He just puts the screw to people if they don’t do what TONY wants.

Do they put fluoride in the local water supply?

Fluoride doesn’t come out of a sewer plant!!!

Again, CCN, thanks for the coverage.

Apparently, Wallace is doing a real shtty job!

This is so typical. I am glad to see that the state is finally starting to come down on these people, and the local media is starting to cover it. (Of course, CCN has always been covering the story here.)

If this doesn’t scream to the rate payers that Wallace is defrauding them, and scream to others in the area that Wallace is corrupt, I don’t know what will.

The big question is will Arroyo Grande Mayor Tony Ferrara still stand behind his boy John Wallace and pledge his full support?, if so the residents of Arroyo Grande need new leadership

It wouldn’t be a S—storm today if Ferrara had been taking his leadership responsibilities seriously all along. This is the11th hour, way past time for the member city councils to have replaced the Sanitation district leadership with spine. Nothing will change unless they act.

Grover Beach was a dead with it’s previous mayor, Mr Shoals, but hopefully the new mayor will step up and work hard to get rid of Mr Wallace

Can’t Wallace be sued for incompetence, fraud and misrepresenting himself?

Wallace;s lawyer’s comments in the Trib about things getting more aggressive was interesting. I guess they are disappointed that the powers that can point fingers at them are not going along with the ‘good ole boys’ syndrome in this county. About time.

Poop happens

No S Sherlock!