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Release Date: 5/6/1998
Contact Information: Dave Schmidt, U. S. EPA, (415) 744-1578

     (San Francisco)--The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (U. S. EPA) and the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board today renewed Orange County's secondary treatment waiver, allowing the county's sanitation districts to continue discharging wastewater 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.  In today's action, U.S. EPA and the Regional Board approved a new permit with specific wastewater discharge limits and improved monitoring.

      "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," said Felicia Marcus, U.S. EPA regional administrator. "Orange County will also be collecting data on bacteria in marine waters to ensure we can protect recreational uses.  Our limits will also encourage a much higher treatment level and increased wastewater reclamation by Orange County over the next few years."

     "The Regional Board is very pleased with the level of protection for public health and water quality that will be provided by this permit," said Regional Board Executive Officer Gerard Thibeault.   "In addition, the added flexibility built into the monitoring program for the permit will allow for program adjustments to accommodate demonstrated scientific or water quality needs."

     Under the terms of the permit, Orange County will continue its current level of advanced primary and partial secondary sewage treatment, with effluent discharged via an outfall pipe terminating about 4.5 miles offshore from the mouth of the Santa Ana River, at a depth of about 195 feet.  U. S. EPA's analyses of the scientific data gathered by the Districts over more than a decade confirm that the discharge has had no detrimental effect on the ocean environment.

     The 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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