Tuesday, July 7, 2009

State Water Board backs off strict order

Moderately good news for Lodi wastewater customers today in what's a complicated issue.

Some background: Lodi operates its White Slough wastewater treatment plant with the permission of the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board. The Board dictates how the City treats the waste coming into the plant and how it discharges it onto the ground or into a Delta waterway.

In 2007, the Regional Board issued Lodi a new permit to operate its treatment plant. The nearly 200-page permit provides the parameters by which Lodi operates the plant. In 2008, the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance appealed the Regional Board's permit to the State Water Board, saying the permit wasn't strict enough.

The State Water Board's staff largely agreed with the environmental group in drafting a proposed order. But at today's meeting in Sacramento, after hearing strongly critical comments from the City, cannery Pacific Coast Producers, an association of Central Valley wastewater discharges and the head of the Regional Board, the Board voted 4-0 to roll back some of the more onerous language in its proposal.

One of the most effective speakers for Lodi was none other than Pamela Creedon, the executive officer of the Central Valley Regional Board. She went toe-to-toe with her counterparts at the State Board.

"I believe your staff has it wrong and I can not stress this enough," Creedon told the State Board members, adding that the proposal from the State was "poor public policy."

The result is the Regional Board can hear new arguments in reconsidering its 2007 permit. The State Board, however, did create a new interpretation of a State regulation that will have a ripple effect throughout California and result in higher wastewater costs.

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