Bart Mendoza 5 a.m., Dec. 8
City of La Mesa's aged sewer system sends millions of gallons of raw sewage into bay and ocean
City submits offer to San Diego Water Board over illegal discharge of sewage into San Diego Bay and ocean.
City officials in La Mesa have admitted to dumping over one million gallons of raw sewage into the San Diego Bay and the Pacific Ocean.
The admission comes less than a month after local water quality officials slapped the City with a $948,816 fine for illegally discharging 1,008,000 gallons of raw sewage in San Diego Bay by way of Chollas Creek and an additional 306,700 gallons of muck in the ocean via the San Diego River and Alvarado Creek.
The alleged violations, according to documents from the San Diego Water Board, occurred in December of 2010, after a heavy storm overwhelmed the City's aged sewage system.
On January 11, the City submitted a settlement offer to the San Diego Water Board for an undisclosed amount.
The City's antiquated sewage system is not a new discovery. And, this wasn't the first time that the City's pipes caused sewage to seep into the Bay and Ocean.
In 1998 the San Diego Water Board discovered four overflows during heavy rains. In response, the water control board ordered the City of La Mesa "to initiate the necessary remedial and preventative actions to cease the threat of rainrelated [overflows].
According to a technical analysis, the City of La Mesa failed to upgrade the sewage system after the 1998 floods. Then came the rains on December 21 and 22, 2010.
The heavy inflow of water forced four locations to back up and send water into Chollas Creek and the San Diego River. Those four overflows occurred at Severin Drive, Parkway Drive, University Avenue, and the final one on Normal Avenue.
The City claimed the overflows and resulting sewage discharge was caused by a historic downpour. The water board didin't agree.
"The City reported that the storm was categorized as a 40-year storm event; however, the first [sewage overflow] began after only 2.48 inches of rain. The remaining[overflows] began after 3.09, 3.53 and 3.81 total inches of rain, well below the storm total of 8.12 inches."
Representatives from the San Diego Water Control Board and the City of La Mesa will meet to discuss the offer. If accepted, the board will discuss the settlement at an upcoming meeting.
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