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U.S. EPA orders L.A. County sanitation districts to cut sewer spills

Release Date: 10/16/2003
Contact Information: Mark Merchant, (415) 947-4297

LOS ANGELES -- Citing concerns over the number of larger spills including spills from pumping stations, the U.S. EPA today announced that it has ordered the Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County to reduce the number of spills from its sewage collection system and to scrutinize its operational and maintenance practices.

Between Oct. 1, 1998 and Aug. 22, 2003, the districts reported 35 sewage spills from portions of its collection system. In all, 27 of those spills were to rivers, streams or the ocean, or other waterways, which is a violation of the federal Clean Water Act.

The Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County is a confederation of 25 separate districts and has extensive operations and maintenance programs in place for its collection system. This order requires the districts to examine those programs and identify what improvements are necessary to reduce the number and volume of spills.

"With this order, the sanitation districts and the EPA will work together to understand the causes of the spills over the past five years, and to achieve a reduction in the high volume spills," said Alexis Strauss, director of the EPA's Water Division in the Pacific Southwest.

While cities and unincorporated areas of the county collect sewage from homes and businesses, the Sanitation Districts collects that sewage and pumps it to various wastewater treatment plants.

The districts' collection system includes 49 pumping stations and approximately 1,300 miles of large sewer lines connecting to local city sewers. The districts' service area covers nearly 800 square miles and encompasses 78 cities and unincorporated territory in the county. The districts operate 11 wastewater treatment facilities with a combined daily flow of approximately 540 million gallons.

On behalf of the EPA, the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board administers the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit for the Sanitation Districts. On May 18, 2001, the board levied a $89,690 for four sewage spills between Jan. 1, 1999 and Dec. 31, 2000.

For more information, visit: Wetlands, Oceans and Watersheds Sanitary Sewer Overflows Water Programs in the Pacific Southwest