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U.S. EPA issues violation notice for illegal sewer pipe in Thermal, Calif.

Release Date: 03/7/2007
Contact Information: Mark Merchant, (415) 947-4297

(03/07/07) SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced it has issued a notice of violation to the owner of a mobile home park in Thermal, Calif. for illegally installing a sewer line that discharges into a drain leading to the Salton Sea.

The mobile home park – Oasis Mobile Homes Estates – is owned by Scott Lawson. It is near Hwy. 86 on the Torres-Martinez Indian Reservation.

The Coachella Valley Water District maintains underground agriculture drains throughout the area that empty into the nearby Salton Sea.

The illegal sewer line – running from open sewage ponds on the mobile home park property to the water district’s system – was discovered on Jan. 26 after water district employees unexpectedly found sewage in an overflow from their agriculture drains.

An official from the U.S. EPA along with representatives of the Coachella Valley Water District conducted a follow up inspection on Feb. 6. The pipe has since been removed.

Without a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination Act permit, the discharge of sewage is illegal under the federal Clean Water Act.

“This is a serious violation of the Clean Water Act, particularly since the sewer line connection was installed without notification,” said Alexis Strauss, director of the Water Division in the EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region. “While the sewer line has been removed, unacceptable risks to public health from sewage nevertheless remain. We will do what needs to be done to ensure the proper handling of sewage.”

This notice of violations requires Lawson to submit a report describing the installation and removal of the sewer line. The report is due by March 30.

In addition, by March 30 Lawson must also submit a plan of the steps to be taken to prevent any future release from the sewage ponds and further ensure there is no public access to sewage ponds.