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What's Good for the Goose...!!

You know what we want? We want the same deal they got.

May 01, 2013

The Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District has agreed to remove ammonia from its wastewater that in turn is dumped to the tune of a million gallons a day into the Sacramento River which then goes on to flow into the Delta. We have maintained for years that the ammonia/nitrogen, along with giardia, e. coli and pharmaceuticals is the primary cause of the Delta's ecological decline. We don't think fish and underwater plants thrive in ammonia, e. coli and viagra. Call us picky. Sacramento was ordered to clean up the mess in December of 2010, but has been fighting in court since then to reverse the decision. We must point out that Sacramento has not agreed to clean up the entire mess, only the ammonia portion of the mess. As Matt Weiser points out in the Sacramento Bee..."The district, however, is not giving up its fight against other permit terms that require the wastewater to be filtered. This so-called "tertiary" treatment step was also ordered in 2010 to remove pathogens, such as giardia and e. coli, and other pollutants. The lawsuit will remain active on this front."

So, the Delta will continue to be a giant toilet bowl for a number of years. Who is penalized for this? The City of Sacramento? The citizens of Sacramento? No. Unfortunately, it's us, the farmers of Central California.

While Sacramento has been fighting in court to keep from cleaning up their ammonia mess, farmers in Central California are told 800,000 acre feet of water must be pumped to the ocean to protect the Delta Smelt. No punishment for the people creating the ammonia/guardia/e. coli/pharmaceutical mess. They just go on doing what they're doing while we get less and less water for our farms. And, now that they've agreed to clean part of it up, they have until 2021 to do so.

You know what we want? We want the same deal they got. We want to get our water until 2021 while the Delta situation and the ammonia are cleaned up. Why is it that they can continue to foul the Delta while they fix their problem for the next eight years, but we are penalized every year? Let's have a level playing field, a field where we get our water until they clean up their ammonia. Or else shut them down like we're shut down. What's good for the goose...should be good for us.




Sacramento settles key piece of sewage battle

Matt Weiser/Sacramento Bee

The Sacramento region has agreed to proceed with removing ammonia from its sewage effluent, settling a key area of dispute in a legal battle over protecting water quality in the Delta.

In the settlement reached Friday, The Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District agreed it will no longer fight the terms of a state permit, issued in 2010, that requires the capital region to remove ammonia and nitrogen from its municipal wastewater.

Effluent from 1.4 million people in the region is processed at the regional treatment plant near Elk Grove. It is then pumped into the Sacramento River near Freeport at the rate of million of gallons every day. This effluent is the largest single source of ammonia entering the aquatic environment of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, and is blamed for altering the food chain and potentially contributing to the decline of native fish species.

The district has long contested the science behind this claim. But it agreed to drop its opposition to the treatment requirement in the lawsuit, originally filed against the state in 2011.

"It's a very good business decision for the sanitation district and it's a very pragmatic thing to do, and it puts an end to this war over should we or shouldn't we remove ammonia," said Stan Dean, district engineer. "We're just going to move forward and do it."

Ken Landau, assistant executive officer of the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board, which imposed the new treatment rules and then became the target of the lawsuit, called the settlement a "big plus" in that it allows both parties to focus on solving the ammonia problem.

"Rather than litigating, we will be working with them on the science of building this treatment solution, and that's a big win for both," Landau said.

The sanitation district also agreed to meet the original deadline to remove ammonia, which is May 2021.

The district, however, is not giving up its fight against other permit terms that require the wastewater to be filtered. This so-called "tertiary" treatment step was also ordered in 2010 to remove pathogens, such as giardia and e. coli, and other pollutants. The lawsuit will remain active on this front.

Whether the district ultimately wins or loses the filtration battle, the parties to the lawsuit agreed the district will have two more years to meet the filtration requirement. That new deadline is May 2023.

The settlement still must be approved by Sacramento County Superior Court. Other parties to the lawsuit include a number of California water agencies that rely on Delta water diversions and support the state's treatment order, including Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and Westlands Water District.

Contact The Bee's Matt Weiser at (916) 321-1264. Follow him on Twitter @matt_weiser.

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