Regional San, along with all wastewater treatment agencies, is regulated by the state and federal government under a strict set of laws generally established under the Federal Clean Water Act (CWA) passed in 1972. Important amendments to the CWA were added in 1977 that further regulate wastewater treatment.
In order to conduct its daily operations, Regional San must comply with a very detailed and complex set of conditions included in our Wastewater Discharge Permit (discharge permit). In our region, this discharge permit is issued and enforced by a state agency known as the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board (Regional Water Board). This agency typically reviews discharge permits every five years and, based on environmental changes or new standards, may change the conditions contained in the discharge permit. The members of the Regional Water Board are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the state senate.
Regional San’s Discharge Permit
In April 2016, the Regional Water Board issued a new discharge permit for Regional San. The 2016 discharge permit largely continued the requirements from the prior 2010 discharge permit. The 2010 discharge permit brought substantial changes and resulted in the need to construct significant new treatment processes at the Sacramento Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant (these new processes are known as the EchoWater Project). The 2010 discharge permit required the Sacramento region to move to an advanced, or “tertiary,” treatment process. Citing possible effects on the Delta ecosystem from ammonia contained in Regional San’s discharge, as well as concerns over public health regarding pathogens, the 2010 discharge permit was one of the most restrictive wastewater treatment permits issued in the State of California.
As a result of the 2010 discharge permit, Regional San has moved forward with and is now in the process of constructing significant new treatment processes to (1) remove ammonia and nitrates and (2) add filtration and enhanced disinfection to inactivate pathogens. Building these new facilities will continue through the permit cycle for the 2016 discharge permit.