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U.S. EPA, STATE PROPOSE ORANGE COUNTY SEWAGE PERMIT RENEWAL

Release Date: 12/18/1997
Contact Information: Paula Bruin, U. S. EPA, (415) 744-1587

     (San Francisco)--The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) and the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board today proposed renewing Orange County's waiver to discharge sewage at current treatment levels,  but with additional guidelines to ensure ocean water protection.  Since 1985, Orange County has operated under a wastewater treatment permit and waiver from advanced sewage treatment requirements, but U.S. EPA and the Regional Board are proposing a new permit with specific wastewater discharge limits and improved monitoring.

     "This proposal represents a responsible step forward," said Felicia Marcus, U.S. EPA regional administrator.  "We have developed new monitoring requirements which will yield a better understanding of what's happening in the marine environment and more stringent limits on what can be discharged.  We've proposed that Orange County  also collect data on pathogens in marine waters to ensure we can protect recreational uses.  Our limits will also encourage a much higher treatment level and increased water reclamation by Orange County over the next few years."

     "We look forward to initiating the public participation process for this very important permit renewal," said Regional Board Executive Officer Gerard Thibeault.
 
     Under the terms of the draft permit, Orange County will continue its current level of advanced primary and partially secondary sewage treatment, with effluent discharged via an outfall pipe terminating about 4.5 miles off the Pacific coast at a depth of about 195 feet. U.S. EPA's analyses of the scientific data gathered by Orange County over more than a decade show that the level of treatment required by the permit will protect the marine environment.

     Interested members of the public who wish to comment on the draft permit are encouraged to attend public workshops where U.S. EPA and Regional Board staff will be on hand to answer questions.  The workshops are at 7:00 p.m., January 22, 1998, at the County Sanitation Districts of Orange County, 10844 Ellis Avenue, Fountain Valley, Calif., and at 9:30 a.m., January 23, 1998, at the Orange County Water District Joint Facilities Board Room, 10500 Ellis Avenue, Fountain Valley, Calif.  Comments can also be made in person at a public hearing at 9:30 a.m. on March 6, 1998, at the City Council Chambers of Newport Beach, 3300 Newport Boulevard, Newport Beach, Calif.  Written comments on the draft U. S. EPA and State permit renewals may also be submitted to the attention of Robyn Stuber at U.S. EPA and Gary Stewart at the Regional Board addresses shown below.  They must be postmarked by March 6, 1998.

     Copies of the draft permit, along with supporting data and related documents, are available for review between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at the following locations:

   California Regional Water       U.S. Environmental
      Quality Control Board           Protection Agency
   Santa Ana Region                Region IX, WTR-5
   3737 Main Street, Suite 500     75 Hawthorne Street
   Riverside, CA  92501-3339       San Francisco, CA  94105-3901
   (909) 782-4379                  (415) 744-1921
     
     The draft permit renewal includes effluent limitations for oil and grease, solids, organic materials, turbidity, pH, acute toxicity and other toxic pollutants.  It also contains a monitoring program designed to evaluate the impact of the wastewater discharge on the ocean environment, demonstrate compliance with applicable water quality standards, and measure toxic substances in the discharge.  The permit, including the variance from secondary sewage treatment requirements, is renewable every five years.

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