Sewage plant passes EPA inspection

No permit violations found
By: Kathy Ito, Colfax Record Correspondent
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The city of Colfax finally has some good news about its wastewater treatment plant. The city received a compliance inspection report from the California Regional Water Quality Control Board on April 25 stating there are no violations to the city’s National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit to discharge treated water into Smuthers Ravine. “The city is thrilled with the compliance inspection results,” said City Manager Bruce Kranz, “It’s the first time since the plant went on line in January 2009 that no violations were reported.” US Environmental Protection Agency contractor, PG Environmental LLC, inspected Colfax’s wastewater treatment plant on Nov. 30, 2010, at the request of California’s Regional Water Quality Control Board. The city received 24-hour notice prior to plant inspection. “The good news is the report shows the city is addressing past issues and intends to be fully compliant to permit requirements,” Kranz said. “The bad news is the plant is still costing the city money to meet regulations.” To date, the city has spent over $300,000 on physical improvements to meet NPDES permit requirements, according to Kranz. “Even though the report was good, the city must take action to meet copper discharge limitations, line Pond 3, and reduce excessive infiltration and inflow (I&I) to maintain permit compliance,” Kranz said. The city is conducting a Water-Effect Ratio (WER) study to determine what action is required to meet copper discharge limits. “When the plant was under construction, the city chose to accept default copper discharge limits instead of spending $80,000 to show our copper limits are the same as every other foothill community,” Kranz said. “We are spending that money today to prove our limits are the same as everyone else’s.” Kranz is hopeful the WER study will convince the Water Quality Control Board to amend permitted copper discharge thresholds. Alternatively, the city will need to build a new structure to filter copper. “To determine the proper course of action to meet I&I requirements,” Kranz said, “the city will do a water balance study to show what is actually going into the plant.” The city has until the end of 2012 to line Pond 3 and address inflow concerns. Copper discharge limits must be met by Jan. 1, 2014. Timely lab testing for chlorine discharge during plant maintenance was the only area of concern reported during the inspection. Testing must be done on-site within five minutes of sampling. The report shows testing was done off-site, 15 minutes after sampling.