CityofIone WastewaterCompliance CRWQCB R5 2011 0019 .pdf
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California Regional Water Quality Control Board
K.therinR Hart, Chair
11020 Sun Canter Drive, *:200. Rlmcho CordoVII', CalifOl'nia 95670.6114
• FAX (91<') 454-464~
Central Valley Region
l:dmnnd G. Brown
24 January 2012
Mayor Ron Smylie
City of lone
P.O. Box 398
lone, CA 95640
Via facsimile and U.S. Mail
COMPUANCE WITH CEASE AND DESIST ORDER R!-2011 •.0019, CITY
The City of lone's wastewater treatment plant is regulated by Waste Discharge Requirements
'Order 95-125 and Cease and Desist Order (COO) RS-2011-0019. This COO requires that the
City design and construct improvements to: (a) obtain sufficient treatment, storage, and
disposal capacity for the wastewater flows projected through 2020, (b) prevent groundwater
pollution, and (c) either stop the wastewater seepage into Sutter Creek or obtain an NPDES
permit to allow for the-lawful discharge of the seepage to surface waters.
For over a decade, the City's wastewater treatment plant has been operated in violation of the
Waste Discharge Requirements and in violation of subsequent enforcement orders, resulting In
documented impacts to water quality. In 2003, the Central Valley Water Board issued a CDO
that required lone to make improvements and to come into compliance with Order 95-125 by
December 2005. Although the City submitted multiple proposals, it never committed to-a plan
that would comply with water quality regulations.
The Water Code states that the City's failure to comply with the 2003 COO subjects the City to
civil liability of up to $5,000 per violation, per qay. Although Board staff would have been
justified in proposing civil liability for the City's failure to comply with the 2003 COO and the
1995 Waste Discharge Requirements, Board staff capitulated to the City's pleas and promises
and instead drafted a new COO with a new compliance timeline_
The Central Valley Water Board considered the issuance of the new COO in April 2011. During
the hearing, Board staff had to defend the proposed Order, as several Board Members seemed
more inclined to impose civil liability than issue a new COO. Although the Board eventually
adopted the new CDO, it was abundantly clear from the discussions that the Board would not
give the City any additional time extensions, and that the failure to follow the new COO would .
almost certainly result in the imposition of civil liability. The Board expressed that it had lost
patience with lone, in no smallpart because other similarly-situated communities were making
valiant efforts to comply with state law, despite difficult financial times.
24 January 2012
Mayor Ron Smylie
City of lone
The COO requires that the City submit a Seepage Compliance Plan by 30 January 2012. The.
Seepage Compliance Plan must describe iii project that will address the capacity, groundwater,
and seepage issues identified in the GOO. In May 2012, the City must provide the specific
design in a Report of Waste Discharge, and the final improvements must be constructed by
I appreciate that the new City Council, the City manager, the City attorney, and the City's
consultants have dedicated Significant time to understand lone'.s wastewater problems and
have thus far complied with the deadlines in the COO. However, I am gravely concerned that
the City Council, by declining to adopt the proposed contracts with RBI or Wlhzler and Kelly, is
unnecessarily exposing the City to.fInanclalliability
and is threatening tocontlnua to degrade
water quality. These contracts would have aI/owed registered professional engineers with
significant wastewater experience to finalize the treatment plant design, to prepare the Report
of Waste Discharge, and to apply for funding from the State Revolving Fund. Under state law,
these tasks must be completed by registered professional engineers with experience in
wastewater ~esign. While the Board recognizes that it Is the City's decision which consultants
to hire, the City must hire a registered professional, and must do so quickly. If the City does not
act quickly. the City will soon be In violation of the CDO.
If the City violates the 2011 coO, Board staff will respect the clear direction provided by the
Board at the April 2011 meeting, and will draft an Administrative Civil Liability Complaint for the
Over a decadEl of non-compliance
has resulted in potential liability that
exceeds $11 million. I sincerely hope that the City Council reevaluates the need to contract with
registered professionals to bring the City's wastewater treatment plant into compliance with
I Will be present at the City Council meeting on 26 January 2012, and will be happy to discuss
this issue further at that time. If you have any questions or would like to meet to discuss this
matter, please contact Wendy Wyels of my staff at (916) 464-4835 or
cc: Patrick Pulupa, Office of Chief Counsel,
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