Environmental Protection

EPA Settlement Aids San Franscisco Bay

"For many years, the health of San Francisco Bay has been imperiled by ongoing pollution, including enormous discharges of raw and partially treated sewage from communities in the East Bay," said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA's regional administrator for the Pacific Southwest. "Many of these discharges are the result of aging, deteriorated sewer infrastructure that will be fixed under the EPA order."

EPA this week announced a Clean Water Act settlement requiring the East Bay Municipal Utility District and seven East Bay communities to conduct extensive system repairs intended to eliminate millions of gallons of sewage discharges into San Francisco Bay, the Justice Department reported. Under the agreement, EBMUD and the communities will assess and upgrade their 1,500 mile-long sewer system infrastructure over a 21-year period at a cost of approximately $1.5 billion, and they will pay civil penalties of $1.5 million for past sewage discharges that violated federal environmental law.

The bay covers 1,600 square miles and is the largest Pacific estuary in the Americas. "Unfortunately, the bay is under threat from many sources of pollution, including crumbling wastewater infrastructure that allows sewage to escape from the system. During rainstorms, in particular, older sewer systems can be overwhelmed, releasing rivers of sewage before fully treated," according to the DOJ news release.

"For many years, the health of San Francisco Bay has been imperiled by ongoing pollution, including enormous discharges of raw and partially treated sewage from communities in the East Bay," said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA's regional administrator for the Pacific Southwest. "Many of these discharges are the result of aging, deteriorated sewer infrastructure that will be fixed under the EPA order."

The settlement resulted from a CWA enforcement action brought by EPA, DOJ, the State Water Resources Control Board, San Francisco Bay Regional Water Board, San Francisco Baykeeper, and Our Children's Earth Foundation.

The seven communities in the settlement are the cities of Alameda, Albany, Berkeley, Emeryville, Oakland, and Piedmont and the Stege Sanitary District (serving El Cerrito, Kensington, and part of Richmond).

"The public has been required to repair their own sewer laterals for over two years now, so it is past time that the local agencies aggressively repair their sewer systems," said Bruce Wolfe, executive officer of the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Board. "This settlement spells out how the agencies will work with the public over the next 21 years to do just that and protect the bay."

To read the settlement, visit www.usdoj.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html.

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