Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Sanders Wants Another Federal Exemption From Clean Water Act

San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders wants another federal exemption from the Clean Water Act. The city's Point Loma Sewage Treatment Plant is the only one in the country not meeting federal standards. Sande

Sanders Wants Another Federal Exemption From Clean Water Act

San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders wants another federal exemption from the Clean Water Act . The city's Point Loma Sewage Treatment Plant is the only one in the country not meeting federal standards. Sanders says paying more than $1 billion to upgrade the plant is too costly for taxpayers. KPBS Environmental Reporter Ed Joyce has details.

The Point Loma plant currently treats sewage at a lower level then required by federal law. The Clean Water Act says cities must remove more pollutants from wastewater than San Diego currently does. Sanders is asking for a third waiver from the federal government to avoid having to pay for improvements at the treatment plant.

Sanders : I've made this decision following the release of findings by the scientific technical review committee.

Sanders formed the committee last June. It was led Paul Linden, a UCSD professor of environmental science and engineering. Linden says the panel determined the water discharged from the plant four miles into the ocean isn't a problem.

Linden : We found no indication that there was any harmful impact of the outfall on the local oceanographic environment. Seems to be no reasons for concerns about the outfall at all.

Sanders says upgrading the plant would cost $1.5 billion. He says the upgrade is something that isn't needed and ratepayers can't afford. San Diego Coastkeeper 's Bruce Reznik disagrees with Sanders.

Reznik : We've actually explored at least initially getting federal and state money. And there's been some interest from our federal and state officials. So when they throw out $1.5 billion and it's all going to fall on the ratepayers. I think they're overestimating the cost, I think they're underestimating getting cost share. And I don't think that's accidental and I think that's very disappointing.

Reznik says the city has rebuffed Coastkeeper's offers to help get federal and state funding for the upgrade. The city faces a December deadline to apply for a third waiver from the EPA.

Ed Joyce, KPBS News.

What questions do you have about the Statewide General Election coming up on Nov. 8? Submit your questions here, and we'll try to answer them in our reporting.