EPA Finalizes Order with California Department of Corrections Regarding San Luis Obispo Treatment Plant

SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has entered into an Administrative Order on Consent with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation for claims of Clean Water Act violations at the California Men’s Colony drinking water treatment facility in San Luis Obispo, California. The order addresses the plant’s unauthorized discharges of filter backwash water to Chorro Reservoir in violation of the Clean Water Act.

“This order ensures that the California Men’s Colony treatment plant will take action to prevent further unauthorized discharges into Chorro Reservoir and protect against the contamination of the state’s water resources,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Martha Guzman. “With our state partners we will continue to enforce compliance with the Clean Water Act, thereby protecting our public health and environment.”

This is the second Administrative Order on Consent entered into between the EPA and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation within the past year. In September 2023, EPA and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation entered into a separate Administrative Order on Consent to address other violations of the Clean Water Act at the California Men’s Colony. Those prior violations included discharges from the prison’s wastewater treatment system with pollutant concentrations exceeding permitted limits, and unpermitted discharges from the prison’s drinking water treatment facility.

Filter backwash discharges to the Chorro Reservoir amounted to approximately 35,000 to 70,000 gallons per day during discharge events and contained pollutants such as chlorine and sediment. Under the order being announced today, the California Men’s Colony will be required to submit a compliance plan to EPA for approval describing how it will cease unlawful filter backwash discharges to Chorro Reservoir, how it will dispose of filter backwash fluids, and how it will dispose of filter backwash sludge. The California Men’s Colony will be required to implement the plan upon its approval by EPA, and the plan will become an enforceable part of the Administrative Order on Consent.

Read more about the Clean Water Act and EPA Enforcement.

For more information on reporting possible violations of environmental laws and regulations, visit EPA’s enforcement reporting website.

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