Walter Mencken 11 a.m., May 24
City sues Regional Water Board over fuel tank spill near Qualcomm Stadium
City says water officials were wrong to grant permission of 1.26 million extraction effort.
1.26 million gallons; that's the amount of groundwater that Kinder Morgan would like to extract from the MIssion Valley Aquifer and discharge in nearby Murphy Canyon Creek on a daily basis as part of a remediation agreement to clean up a large plume of fuel released into the aquifer underneath Qualcomm Stadium.
In a May 7 lawsuit, the City of San Diego is challenging the remediation effort by suing the San Diego Regional Water Control Board for allowing the company to continue depleting the aquifer.
Hundreds of thousands of gallons has seep from the tank farm near Qualcomm Stadium, owned and operated by Kinder Morgan, since the 1980's.
In 1992, Kinder Morgan was ordered by local water board officials to investigate and remediate the plume of fuel near the stadium. It started by extracting 220,000 gallons of water from the aquifer, treating the water and then releasing it into a nearby creek. At the time, according to the lawsuit, the City of San Diego opposed the Soil Vapor Extraction system.
Despite the City's objections, the water control board approved, and continued to approve increased amounts of extraction.
Now the City says the process is sucking the aquifer dry and wants it to end.
"Petitioner alleges that discharging the groundwater to Murphy Canyon Creek is a waste of the City's natural groundwater resources. Petitioner has asked the [Water Control Board] to direct [Kinder Morgan] to reinject the treated groundwater back into the Aquifer, where it will expedite the remediation and help alleviate the deterioration in the Aquifer's groundwater quality caused by both the contamination and the selected remediation approach," reads the May 7 lawsuit.
Attorneys for the City claim that the company should not be allowed to discharge pollutants into waters that are under the jurisdiction of the City and that eventually winds up in U.S. waters.
So last year, water officials agreed to have Kinder Morgan gain city approval before continuing with extraction. The City, of course, did not grant permission. Then city officials allege the energy company tried to sidestep the City, claiming that the discharge point was actually within CalTrans right of way, outside of the City's jurisdiction.
The Regional Water Control Board sided with Kinder Morgan, allowing the company to continue with the remediation efforts.
Left without any other options, the City is suing the water board, ordering water officials to rescind the permit and to reimburse the City for any legal fees and any costs associated with the issue.
Click here to read the lawsuit, all 101 pages of it:
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