Aug 11, 2006

Barstow Could Face Large Fine for Sewage Spill

Barstow, Calif., could potentially be fined tens of thousands of dollars for a recent raw sewage spill, according to the state water quality control board.

The Desert Dispatch reports that the Notice of Violation from Harold J. Singer, executive officer of the California Regional Water Quality Control Board, Lahonton Region, states that the city could possibly be in violation of the Water Quality Control Plan. This was the second letter sent in two days with allegations concerning Barstow’s wastewater system.

Two violations were pointed out in the first letter. The first could cost up to $5,000 per day plus $10 for every gallon of sewage spilled. The second violation could cost the city up to $10,000 per day of violation, and $10 for each gallon of unauthorized discharge not cleaned up.

According to the notice, the WQCB discovered that in May the city spilled 1.5 million gallons of untreated sewage from their wastewater treatment plant into the Mojave River.

The notice also alleges that the city failed to properly operate and maintain their wastewater facilities.

The city of Barstow has denied that any of the untreated sewage made it into the river. City manager Hector Rodriguez and wastewater supervisor Pat Lendway stated that the waste spilled from a manhole cover and traveled to a dry wash on the wastewater plant property. They claim that the waste did not reach the dry bed of the Mojave river.

The letter states that the city must submit a plan to achieve zero discharge of untreated sewage into the river. The WQCB also recommends upgrades of the plant’s pump and “low-technology” solutions. Suggestions for improvements include constructing a lined basin or modifying an existing pond to contain the bypass of raw sewage in the event of pump failure.

Currently, no official penalties cited in the letter.