After spending years and millions of dollars settling a case over a 2010 sewage spill, the South San Luis Obispo County Sanitation District received a new fine from the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board.
The latest fine, which is for a series of water quality violations between July 2015 and May 2017, is much smaller, totaling $9,000. The penalty, which includes three separate fines of $3,000, punishes the sanitation district for a host of environmental violations, including discharging water with too much fecal matter and chlorine into the ocean.
Regulators categorized two of the violations as “serious” and one as “non-serious.” The sanitation district has already decided not to contest the violations. On Wednesday, the district board voted to pay the fine.
The first of the three violations occurred in July 2015, when the district discharged suspended solids from its Oceano Wastewater Treatment Plant at a rate of 57 milligrams per liter, exceeding the limit of 40 milligrams per liter. The excessive discharge of pollutants was caused by a rupture in a main influent pipe. Regulators categorized the excessive discharge of suspended solids as a serious violation.
Over the second half of 2015, the Oceano Wastewater Treatment Plant violated minor water quality limits five times in a six-month period, which combined, amounted to a non-serious violation and a $3,000 fine. Nonetheless, one reading from Dec. 2015 found the plant had more than two times the maximum allowable amount of fecal coliform, which are bacteria from the feces of warm-blooded animals.
The third violation, categorized as serious, occurred in May 2017, when chlorine levels in the district’s discharged water were recorded to be about 221 percent higher than the allowable limit.