Toll Free 1-877-257-9777


Sep 19, 2023

EPA Reaches Agreement with California Department of Corrections over Claims of Clean Water Act Violations

Sep 19, 2023

SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has entered into an Administrative Order on Consent with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation for claims of Clean Water Act violations at the California Men’s Colony wastewater treatment plant located in San Luis Obispo, California. The treatment plant failed to properly operate and maintain all wastewater facilities and systems of control as required by a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit issued under the authority of the Clean Water Act.

“This order ensures that the California Men’s Colony treatment plant will take action to prevent further discharges of dangerous levels of pollution into Chorro Creek, which flows into the ocean,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Martha Guzman. “Compliance with the Clean Water Act permit – and all the pollutant limits enshrined in that permit – is essential to protecting public health and the environment, and with our state partners EPA will continue to provide vigilant oversight.”

The California Men’s Colony treatment plant is authorized to discharge wastewater via a Clean Water Act permit issued by the State of California’s Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB). The treatment plant conveys and treats domestic wastewater from the California Men’s Colony East and West Facilities, Camp San Luis Obispo (a National Guard training site), Cuesta College, and San Luis Obispo County facilities including El Chorro Regional Park, Dairy Creek Golf Course, Education Center, and County Operational Facility. The service area for the treatment plant includes approximately 13,000 acres with an estimated population served of 16,000. Treated wastewater is discharged into Chorro Creek, which flows to the Morro Bay Estuary and the Pacific Ocean

EPA and the Water Boards conducted a series of inspections and investigations at the California Men’s Colony between May 2021 and April 2022. Inspectors found that critical infrastructure had not been maintained or operated properly, resulting in (1) violations of permit effluent limits for total nitrogen, pH, copper, total coliform, and multiple toxic pollutants; (2) plastics passing through the treatment system into Chorro Creek; (3) over 6,000 gallons of sanitary sewer overflows reaching Chorro Creek; and (4) unauthorized discharges from the on-site drinking water treatment and distribution system to Chorro Creek.

EPA and the California Men’s Colony have agreed that the Colony will take action necessary to resolve these violations of the Clean Water Act. Requirements of the consent agreement being announced today include analysis of the wastewater treatment plant to determine the causes of treatment inefficiencies and pollutant pass-through, work to address these deficiencies, and repair of water infrastructure – including a leaking drinking water tank – in order to stop unauthorized discharges from the facility to Chorro Creek.

An Administrative Order on Consent is a legal agreement signed by EPA and an individual, business, or other entity through which the entity agrees to take an action, refrain from an activity, or pay certain costs. It describes the actions to be taken, applies to civil actions, and can be enforced in court. In limited instances it may be subject to a public comment period.

Get Stormwater Training Today!


Read more about the EPA’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, the Clean Water Act, and Enforcement.


Media Contact: Josh Alexander, (415) 214-5940 | [email protected]

« Back to Articles

Downloadable Resouces

Great course, the downloadable materials are very helpful and well designed.

Rating: 5.0 / 5.0

Chanler F., BETA Group Inc.
Committed Clients: