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Letter to SR Council on NPDES

Dear Council:

The jungle drums are telling me you are thinking of appealing and or
litigating your new waste water permit.

This permit was a compromise in your favor. I would be careful about
re-opening the issue.

I can easily be argued that the permit is not restrictive enough and not
compliant with both the federal Clean Water Act , Porter-Cologne, and the
Basin Plan for the North Coast.

The permit allows the City to comply – over time – with limits that you can
easily meet. And – to develop you own monitoring plan.

The Basin Plan says that additional inputs of pollutants from controllable
sources – must be limited to zero. It this were to happen – you all will
have a very difficult time meeting that standard – plus other standards
that have not been met by the NPDES (i.e. no numeric limits for phosphorus).

I am thinking you will not listen to this warning. Proceed at your own risk.

The money that you have, and will, spend trying to evade your
responsibility to the state’s waters (Santa Rosa Creek, the Laguna, and the
Russian River) would do more good working for solutions.

Alan Levine

Comments and questions:

Excellent letter and advice to the City Council.

I am having some difficulty tracking the point of paragraph 5, concerning “additional inputs from controllable sources”. I would appreciate a short explanation as to how that would work.

Thanks in advance.

Len Holt

Good question Len.

This question is at the center of the issue of pollutant inputs and Impaired Waterbodies – including some recent changes of emphasis in the Basin Plan and what might be argued to support a stronger NPDES permit for the City of Santa Rosa discharges.

Staying up on the quality issues is just as important as watching the supply side issues. They are linked in our goals.

In the Basin Plan there is Anti-degradation Language. In part this language is taken from the Clean Water Act. The language is in the Basin Plan as follows:

Basin Plan Anti-degradation Policy: “Controllable water quality factors shall conform to the water quality objectives contained [in the Basin Plan]. When other factors result in the degradation of water quality beyond the levels or limits established [in the Basin Plan] as water quality objectives, then controllable factors shall not cause further degradation of water quality. Controllable water quality factors are those actions, conditions, or circumstances resulting from man’s activities that may influence the quality of waters of the State and that may reasonably be controlled.”

Pollutants from the SR Waste water plant that are delivered to the Laguna are controllable and are linked to the existing degradation. Interim (pre TMDL) permitting should not allow additional pollutants to be delivered.

The City’s NPDES permit allows ratcheting down some pollutants – over time. It also allows the delivery of pollutants in excess of what should be permissible. We will have to push the opposite direction of the City’s appeal. The City says it wants out of the Laguna. But, they also say they want to pollute there.