Friday, August 27, 2010

The Solution to Pollution is Dilution

In the past few days, the local paper and trade journals were all up in arms about various reports regarding the Sacramento Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP). The permit is up for renewal. And with the disappearance of fish from the Delta and salmon not spawning, the State is considering placing an ammonia limit on the plant. The tenor of the reports is "It will cost too much money" and "it will cost 300+ jobs over a 15 year period."

Permit me to say, as a recent resident to CA who specializes in nutrient removal from wastewater, so? Many other states have bitten the bullet as they realized that fish are dying and ecosystems are crumbling. They demand nutrient removal. While CA cannot decide whether ammonia is toxic at dilution levels seen in the rivers--and proving that the old engineer's saw the solution to pollution is dilution, still reigns supreme in the backwaters of the brains of Neanderthals, other states are now worried about Total nitrogen and Total phosphorus, as well as medicine in wastewater effluent as they pollute the waterways. Who knew that as progressive as CA is in energy policy, they are at least 15 years behind the national curve in wastewater treatment and water usage?

It is frustrating to me that the State has told me my specialty won't even be considered for at least 25 years. Hell, San Diego, after much legal wrangling, still uses basically an advanced septic tank to remove solids before it discharges the rest to the ocean. It is too expensive to place a federally mandated system of treatment.

My guess is Sacramento will not have to update either, because they are big and can afford the lawyers to fight a bankrupt government. They are too big to fail and follow rules. Much of CA environmental law is based upon the economic costs to the citizenry and affordability of doing the right thing. Sad.

So my guess is that the economic hub of Los Angeles and San Diego will get the environmental impact statement overturned that said the flows of the San Joaquin and Sacramento River delta that needs to be restored to at least 50% of historic flows. They will continue to pump out so much water to LA, Santa Barbara, the East Bay and San Diego, the rivers will continue to flow backwards. The pollutants will not be treated and the ecosystem will continue to fail. Sad!

Who knew this state was so backwards environmentally when it comes to water laws and use. It sure does not match the image projected and to tell the truth, Texas is much more advanced, as is Alabama and other states you would think would not be. Heck, there have been enough wells placed in the Central Valley for irrigation that the ground has sunk 6-8 feet as the aquifer is drained. Tulare Lake no longer exists and it was the largest lake west of the Mississippi. Drained for economic growth.

I hope I am wrong.


No comments: