Mayor Jerry Sanders announced today that he will seek a federal waiver that would permit the city to continue dumping sewage in the ocean at a level that doesn’t meet federal standards.

The Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant, which releases 170 million gallons of treated sewage into the Pacific Ocean each day, doesn’t filter out enough crud before it is piped 4.5 miles offshore.

The plant sits on the bluffs of Point Loma just north of Cabrillo National Monument and has little room to expand. The facility has had a waiver from the federal Clean Water Act requirement since 1995 and must reapply for that waiver by mid-December. The city estimates an upgrade would cost between $1 billion and $1.5 billion.

“Seeking a waiver is the most prudent course of action for taxpayers of the city,” Sanders said.

Sanders’ announcement followed the release of a $200,000 analysis conducted by scientists at University of California, San Diego and San Diego State University. At Sanders’ behest, the scientists reviewed annual water quality monitoring data collected around the plant’s outfall. They found no evidence of any significant adverse impacts.

Sanders’ decision will likely cause environmental groups to sue the city. We’ll have more on this later.


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