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U.S. Navy to upgrade wastewater treatment plant on California’s San Clemente Island following agreement with U.S. EPA

News Releases from Region 09

11/23/2020

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SAN CLEMENTE ISLAND, Calif. – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a Federal Facility Compliance Agreement (FFCA) with the Navy whereby the Navy will complete major upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant on San Clemente Island. San Clemente Island is home to Navy SEAL training facilities and is the Navy’s only remaining ship-to-shore live firing range.

“The improvements to the wastewater treatment plant on San Clemente Island will protect coastal water quality,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator John Busterud. “This demonstrates the Navy’s commitment to improving its wastewater infrastructure.”

The EPA and Navy entered into the FFCA to address violations at the treatment plant tied to discharge of pollutants, which can impact water quality and ocean wildlife. These violations place the facility in Significant Non-Compliance with its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. The Navy also violated its permit by failing to properly operate and maintain all facilities and for failing to perform maintenance on all monitoring instruments.

The Navy has agreed to design and install an upgraded wastewater treatment system to bring the facility into full compliance with the Clean Water Act. The Navy also agreed to update and improve its operation and maintenance program for the improved wastewater treatment plant. The upgrades will cost approximately $2.3 million and completion is expected by October 2021.

The San Clemente Island wastewater treatment plant discharges to a portion of the Pacific Ocean deemed as an Area of Special Biological Significance (ASBS). Such areas support an unusual variety of aquatic life, and often host unique species. Discharges into this area have the potential to impact aquatic life and could contribute to the impairment of water quality that harms the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the ASBS.  

The treatment system now has the capacity to treat 30,000 gallons per day of wastewater generated at the Naval Base. San Clemente Island is located about 70 miles west of San Diego and just south of Santa Catalina Island.

This settlement furthers EPA’s National Compliance Initiative to reduce facilities that are in Significant Non-Compliance and improve surface water quality by assuring dischargers comply with NPDES permit requirements. For more information on this initiative, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/enforcement/national-compliance-initiative-reducing-significant-non-compliance-national-pollutant.

For more information on NPDES Permits in EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/npdes-permits/npdes-permits-epas-pacific-southwest-region-region-9

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Author: Region 09

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