In 2001 the Surfrider Foundation and San Diego Coastkeeper sued the City of San Diego for chronic sewage spills. At that point the City of San Diego averaged almost a sewage spill a day, and had spilled more than 45 million gallons of sewage into local waters during the five years prior.
The aim of the suit was to bring the City into compliance with the law, and to set an aggressive schedule for sewage infrastructure improvements to alleviate the deleterious affects of these spills on local waters. On May 22, 2007, the San Diego City Council approved a final settlement with the Surfrider Foundation, San Diego Coastkeeper and the U.S. EPA that will force the City to invest almost $1 billion in its sewage infrastructure through 2013. The settlement will also ensure the continuation of the City’s successful Sewer Spill Reduction Program that has resulted in an 83% reduction in spills since 2000. Two partial consent decrees had been approved previously initiating these improvements, however due to the City’s financial situation a long term settlement was not yet possible. With the recent wastewater rate increases the City has now been able to enter into a long term agreement which will ensure continued investment in the City’s sewage infrastructure over the next six years. Surfrider is extremely pleased with the outcome of this lawsuit and the significant reduction in sewage spills we have witnessed to date.