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Release Date: 6/12/1995
Contact Information: Bill Glenn, U.S. EPA, (415) 744-1589

EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE:     June 12, 1995, 10 a.m. PDT


  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) today announced a preliminary determination to approve San Diego's sewage treatment plan and that it anticipates issuing a wastewater permit for public review this summer.

"San Diego has laid out a detailed wastewater plan that makes both environmental and economic sense," said U.S. EPA Administrator Carol M. Browner.  "Our action on this plan demonstrates the commitment President Clinton and I have made to protect San Diego's waters by using the most cost-effective, common-sense means possible.  I want to thank Sen. Boxer and Rep. Filner for their leadership and commitment to the goals we all share for San Diego and its citizens."

the plan, which was submitted to EPA as part of an application for a waiver from advanced sewage treatment requirements, lays out the city's goals for wastewater treatment and water recycling.  In October 1994, President Clinton approved legislation giving San Diego six months in which to apply for a waiver from advanced treatment requirements.  The waiver is designed to take into account the city's unique circumstances, which will likely allow it to maintain clean water at lower cost.

The Agency's initial review shows that the scientific findings contained in the city's application meet the Clean Water Act's criteria for the granting of a waiver, as well as the requirements of the Ocean Pollution Reduction Act.  San Diego's detailed application shows that discharge of partially treated wastewater via a recently extended outfall pipe terminating 4.5 miles off the coast at a depth of 320 feet will not have a detrimental effect on the ocean environment.

U.S. EPA must still complete a detailed analysis of the data used in San Diego's application.  If the review of that data confirms compliance with Clean Water

Act requirements, U.S. EPA will issue a draft permit as soon as this August that will set forth the terms under which the city can safely discharge wastewater into the Pacific Ocean. The public will have an opportunity at that time to comment on the waiver decision and the draft permit.

San Diego applied in late April for a waiver of the requirement that it provide additional treatment of its wastewater before discharging it into the Pacific.  The Ocean Pollution Reduction Act signed into law by President Clinton gave San Diego another opportunity to apply for a waiver after the city withdrew its earlier application.  To qualify for a waiver, the city must demonstrate that discharging partially treated wastewater offshore will not have a significant impact on the marine environment.

U.S. EPA has worked cooperatively with San Diego as it prepared its application to meet waiver requirements.  Current proposed legislation to exempt San Diego entirely from these requirements would provide no mechanism for periodic or public review to ensure that the offshore environment continues to receive adequate protection as conditions change over time.

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