Regional water board fines Paso Robles $495,000

January 24, 2017

PASO ROBLES BRICK SIGNThe Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board levied a $495,000 fine Friday against the city of Paso Robles for discharging treated sewage with excessive levels of pollutants into the Salinas River. The violations occurred over a span of nearly three years while the city was upgrading its wastewater treatment plant.

Paso Robles has a federal permit that authorizes the city to discharge treated sewage into the Salinas River. From Oct. 3, 2013 through June 27, 2016, the city city dumped various pollutants into the river that exceeded levels allowed under the permit.

California Water Code mandates that the water board issue minimum fines of $3,000 per violation committed by the city. However, a portion of the money the city owes can be diverted to environmental projects that enhance public use of state water.

Water board and city officials reached an agreement to direct $255,000 to environmental projects in the Paso Robles groundwater basin. Those projects may include groundwater sampling, supporting sustainable groundwater management efforts or assisting disadvantaged communities with their efforts to resolve drinking water issues.

The remaining $240,000 of the fine will go to a cleanup and abatement account.

Regional Water Board Chairman Jean-Pierre Wolff said both his agency and the city desire that the pollution of the Salinas River will be offset by improving the sustainable use of the groundwater basin.

“Ensuring adequate treatment and control of wastewater discharges to our surface waters is a key component of the board’s responsibility to protect water quality,” Wolff said. “While the city has experienced a very difficult time in complying with its permit’s protective standards, it has also turned a significant corner by upgrading its treatment plant to reduce violations and put the city on a path towards exemplary performance.

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It seems very fishy to me that “a portion of the money the city owes can be diverted to environmental projects that enhance the public use of STATE water.” Why not use funds to upgrade sewage plant to fix the problem??? So, the city is being blackmailed by the state to use STATE water via “environmental projects” what a bunch of BS! This is really the state strong arming a small city to carry out a BS agenda to obtain access to a water plentiful basin like the PRGWB to shore up the state’s totally mismanaged and utterly failing STate Water Project. don’t be fooled by the use of the word “environmental” – this is a SCAM

I just remembered another incident that could indicate that the Water Board does what Gibson says. This happened in 2014.

Gibson had been pushing hard for Morro Bay and Cayucos to get together with the California Men’s colony to create a regional sewage treatment plant. However, for Morro Bay to take the time to look into this option seemed risky because of a Morro Bay agreement with the Water Board.

Morro Bay has been discharging insufficiently-treated sewage into the ocean for years. The Water Board had always taken a very dim view of the situation and had threatened punitive action.

The 2008 “Settlement Agreement for Issuance of Permits to and Upgrade of the Morro Bay-Cayucos Wastewater Treatment Plant” threatened substantial fines if the problem was not remedied by a specified date. It was made very clear that the RWQCB would not tolerate any delays. This meant Morro Bay needed a new sewer plant, ASAP.

Gibson and top Water Board officials showed up at the November 12, 2014 Morro Bay City Council meeting, where the issue of the CMC plant was to be discussed. While speaking at the meeting, they were fairly subtle, but it was still clear they were all pushing for the CMC plant option, even though it would extend the time necessary to choose a site and build the new plant – meaning that the 2008 Settlement Agreement deadline would be missed.

At one point, then-CCRWQCB Executive Director Ken Harris seemed to be telling the City Council that there was no hurry in getting the project completed. In regard to the timeline the Council had set for the project, Harris told the Council,

“That 5-year deadline is a self-imposed deadline. There are no regulatory triggers. We’re not going to show up with our ticket book in 5 years and start writing tickets, so we don’t want you to feel rushed.” and, “There is the potential, and if it takes another year to do it…”

It seemed like he had totally forgotten about the 2008 Settlement Agreement that told Morro Bay to clean up the problem ASAP, or there would be serious consequences. He also seemed to have forgotten about the ongoing ocean pollution that the Board supposedly was concerned about.

The Council voted against the CMC option for the plant, and at that point, Gibson and the Water Board people reportedly looked very angry and shook their heads.

Was this an example of the Board doing what Gibson tells them to? It sure looked like it to those who saw it. The written minutes omit key comments made, but the audio is available online.

More unelected bureaucrats who will give themselves future raises based on fines they steal from taxpayers. The government is filled with these profiteers. They are killing this state!

As a former employee of sewage treatment plant, I know that there are many constituents that the plant can not take out. For example salt from water softeners. Copper from copper pipes in new construction. Dry cleaning solvents, and many other chemicals that are regulated in the discharge permit.. Many of these pollutants are not removed. And source control is the only way to keep these chemicals from going down the river, as to speak. So it is up to the people not to flush these down the toilet, industries not to dump it down the drain. It’s not the plant operators fault that people do this stuff.

Good insight from PasoDowny on Bruce Gibson, but this is also part of Jim App’s legacy.

This is Bruce Gibson working behind the scenes, a vendetta pursued after his Paso water district plan went down in flames. It is not a coincidence a majority of the fine is to be used for “groundwater basin” projects, including “groundwater management efforts.” Such a vindictive loser.

Something is definitely off here. Why does Paso Robles get nailed when Morro Bay has been polluting the groundwater and ocean with sewage for years – and getting away with it?

Morro Bay’s leaky sewer system is a disgrace. In 2014, tests proved that sewage was reaching the Morro Basin municipal wells. That didn’t see,m to bother the Water Board, and they refused to take any action.

They said at their May, 2015 meeting that there are leaky sewers all over the state, not just in Morro Bay (as if that made it alright).. They said that they didn’t have time to deal with that kind of problem because they were too busy dealing with the drought. They said that as long as Morro Bay has adequate sources of potable water, they will not do anything.

So, Morro Bay gets to contaminate the ground water and the ocean with impunity, and Paso Robles gets nailed. What’s wrong with this picture? I think you’re right about Gibson.

The little town of Paso is filthy rich, that’s why.

Can’t blame that one on bunch of convicts, now can ya? Maybe on a bunch of elected and publicly funded criminals, but not a convict.

Trump should be reading this news, not fake and in my opinion, does a good job at citing Fake Gov.

The state fines the city and the taxpayer pays for the whole thing.

And no public sector/government employee is held responsible, no consequences for their actions and the pensions keep on going………..

Go figure! It’s time we make these elected officials and their political appointee cronies personally accountable for this kind of shit. And if it is criminal and they are convicted send their asses to prison!

Drain this swamp and start with its inhabitants wallets and purses…

Just another way to increase their budgets. No hearings or anything. Just raise the fees and everything will be ok.