SAN DIEGO — The California Coastal Commission agreed to alter the terms of San Diego’s sewage treatment permit, allowing the city to continue to pump 50 billion gallons of partly treated sewage deep into the Pacific Ocean each year.
The panel voted Friday that the city can avoid the recommendations made by a $2 million study of wastewater recycling options.
The amended permit also removes language that suggested San Diego’s disposal of sewage into the ocean could be creating environmental problems.
The city is operating its Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant under a waiver from the U.S. Clean Water Act granted by the Coastal Commission in October. It’s the third time the city has obtained a waiver from meeting federal standards for treatment of sewage.
The commission’s decision was a “victory for all San Diegans,” a spokesman for Mayor Jerry Sanders told the Union-Tribune.
The recycling study had examined adding expensive secondary sewage treatment to remove water from the sewage, and use it for landscaping at parks and golf courses. San Diego is the only major California city not required to use secondary treatment, and numerous coastal cities use expensive tertiary treatment to extract and recycle irrigation water from some of its sewer plants.
The Point Loma facility processes sewage from more than 2.2 million people in and around the city and sends solids into the ocean.
The permit was altered Friday to remove requirements that the city reduce the volume of sewage not fully treated before discharge. Left in place were requirements that the city continue to investigate wastewater reclamation and recycling.
The Associated Press