An environmental group has challenged Lodi's wastewater discharge permit, which could force the regional water board to issue costly new requirements to the city's discharge practice.
In a 25-page petition letter, the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance appealed the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board's decision to grant Lodi's White Slough wastewater treatment plant a discharge permit in September.
Lodi's practice of discharging treated wastewater and untreated industrial wastewater into the Delta and onto surrounding farmland is harming the region's water quality, according to the letter written by CSPA Executive Director Bill Jennings.
"The discharge threatens to degrade the domestic, agricultural and industrial beneficial uses of the groundwater," Jennings wrote.
The permit does not contain limits for certain pollutants, such as some metals, oil and grease, the letter states.
"The permit is quite simply wrong," Jennings wrote.
According to the protest letter filed with the State Water Resources Control Board on Oct. 15, the CSPA wants the regional board to issue a new permit with stricter requirements.
• July 30: Regional board opens final draft of permit to 30-day public comment period.
• Aug. 27: State water board releases damaging report on Lodi's wastewater quality on last day of comment period.
• Sept. 14: Regional board grants Lodi wastewater discharge permit.
• Oct. 11: State board backs off damaging wastewater report.
• Oct. 15: California Sportfishing Protection Alliance petitions State board to block permit.
• November: State board expected to either dismiss petition or take up petition.
- News-Sentinel staff.
The state board is currently reviewing the petition, according to board spokesperson Liz Kanter. The state board could dismiss it or take up the petition and possibly instruct the regional board to issue a draft order addressing some or all of the petition's issues.
"If that happens, it will likely be in the next month or two," Kanter said, and Lodi would have 30 days to respond.
A new stricter permit could mean costly changes to Lodi's wastewater treatment process, such as additional monitoring or lining the wastewater ponds to deal with the issues raised in the petition.
The CSPA is more concerned with the way the regional board issues permits than Lodi's wastewater discharge, Public Works Director Richard Prima said, noting that the group has protested other regional board permits.
"I got the impression they were looking at big picture issues for the Delta and the way the regional board handles these," Prima said. "It isn't specifically our permit that gave them grief."
Prima said that the CSPA petition relied on findings from a state report that said Lodi's wastewater discharge was polluting the surrounding groundwater. The city claimed that report was flawed and ignored key data, and the state board later distanced itself from those findings.
"That points out how we don't regard a lot of their comments as being pertinent," Prima said.