San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department Announces Partially Treated Sewage Spill

By on November 21, 2019

The San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department (SLOPHD) has announced approximately 33,000 gallons of partially treated sewage has been released from the California Men’s Colony due to a mechanical malfunction at the prison’s wastewater treatment plant. The spill occurred last Thursday morning and was reported due to electrical fluctuation at CMC’s wastewater treatment facility.

According to the San Luis Obispo (SLO) Tribune, Lt. John Hill, public information officer at California Men’s Colony, wrote in an email Friday that “There was an approximate 12- to 15-minute unintentional discharge of treated, nearly purified water into Chorro Creek.” Chorro Creek feeds into the Morro Bay Estuary.

The SLO Public Health Department has advised the public to stay out of Chorro Creek and the Estuary due to the wastewater release. The SLOPHD indicated that the partially treated sewage had failed to go through the final treatment process. The ultraviolet treatment system lost power at the prison and the sewage was treated to secondary standards but failed to go through the final UV treatment process.

CMC’s Lt. Hill’s written comments to the SLO Tribune stated that “Therefore the sewage was treated to secondary standards but failed to go through the final UV treatment process. The discharged wastewater only lacked UV radiation bombardment as a final stage of purification, and was not like raw sewage in any form.”

The County of San Luis Obispo Public Health Department was quickly on the scene to ensure appropriate measures were taken to properly clean and sanitize the area and post warning signs in areas impacted by the sewage spill. The Region 3 Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board (CCRWQCB) will investigate whether any laws were violated. The CCRWQCB is one of nine California Regional Water Quality Control Boards that make up the California Regional Water Quality Control Board which is responsible for preserving, enhancing, and restoring the quality of California’s water resources and drinking water for the protection of the environment, public health, and all beneficial uses among other objectives.