EPA Says San Francisco Violating Federal Water Regulations

KCBS Radio Morning News
October 03, 2019 - 10:33 am
Ocean Beach in San Francisco is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

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(KCBS Radio) - The Trump administration’s feud with San Francisco escalated further Wednesday when the Environmental Protection Agency issued a notice to San Francisco accusing the city and county of violating the federal Clean Water Act.

The notice was issued as a letter to Harlan Kelly, Jr., general manager of the Public Utilities Commission, and alleges violations in the city and county wastewater treatment and sewer system. The EPA says the system has allowed raw and partially-treated sewage to flow onto beaches and into the ocean and sometimes into streets and homes. The agency also says the city has not maintained proper cleaning, inspection and repair procedures.

The notice contained a veiled warning that it retains the option of seeking fines and penalties through administrative, civil or criminal actions over the violations.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed said in a statement the notice “contained a series of mischaracterizations, inaccuracies and falsehoods.”

“No debris flow out into the Bay or the Ocean,” said Breed. “In fact, the EPA recently awarded San Francisco the largest, merit-based award it has under its competitive loan program for water infrastructure.”

Breed says the city has been working with the EPA for years to upgrade its aging infrastructure and accused the Trump administration of politicizing the agency. “The notice of violation flies in the face of years of good faith discussions convened between the City and the EPA.”

It is the latest move in an ongoing battle between the Trump administration and California’s Democratic leaders.

In recent weeks the EPA has also sent letters to Governor Gavin Newsom alleging the state is violating federal air and water quality standards and threatened to withhold transportation funding. Newsom called the threat “pure retaliation”.

It came after President Trump warned of possible federal action during a visit to the state last month, saying homelessness in San Francisco was causing needles and human waste to flow through storm drains into the Pacific Ocean.

Mayor Breed has vehemently denied the claim and says, “President Trump’s sudden concern for California’s environment is ironic considering he is undercutting the state’s ambitious vehicle emission standards and climate change plans.”

California has filed more than 50 lawsuits opposing the administration’s initiatives, including one to block the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration from revoking the state’s authority to set its own emissions standards.