City exposed to litigation from state water board

November 17, 2006
Santa Paula City Council

The City Council will be meeting behind closed doors Monday to discuss anticipated litigation over a long standing and troubling issue: the wastewater treatment plant.

By Peggy KellySanta Paula TimesThe City Council will be meeting behind closed doors Monday to discuss anticipated litigation over a long standing and troubling issue: the wastewater treatment plant.According to the agenda for Monday’s meeting, the Council will have a conference with City Attorney Karl Berger and City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz to discuss “significant exposure to litigation” involving the California Regional Water Quality Control Board.An action has not yet been filed according to the agenda for “alleged exceedances of effluent limitations set forth in City’s NPDES permit between 2000 and 2003.”The city has been under the gun for years due to the discharges into the Santa Clara River that exceed ever-tightening state guidelines.Neighboring Fillmore has also run afoul of state mandates and, like Santa Paula, is examining the construction of a new wastewater treatment plant to avoid fines totaling millions of dollars.
The City Council first learned that the state was poised to slap fines on the city about four years ago and has been scrambling to meet state discharge mandates at the city’s aging plant.The city and state finally struck a deal to apply the bulk of the fines - about $8 million - to a new plant, with the design and alternate technologies now under review by a Value Engineering team.Recently the state extended the deadline to 2008 and Santa Paulans were hit with a recent $10 increase in wastewater treatment bills, the third increase in as many years.The Council recently adopted a program to help qualifying low-income seniors to forego most of the latest increase for services; the difference will be funded through interest earned in the wastewater account.At Monday’s meeting Interim Finance Director Sandy Easley will discuss the program with the Council during the Presentations portion of the session.



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