Review of UCD Revised Field Sampling Plan for the LEHR Superfund Site
G. Fred Lee & Associates
27298 E. El Macero Dr.
El Macero, California 95618-1005
Tel. (530) 753-9630 • Fax (530) 753-9956
e-mail [email protected]
web site: http://members.aol.com/gfredlee/gfl.htm
Please note the new area code for telephone and fax has been changed to 530
G. Fred Lee & Associates
February 9, 1998
Route 2, Box 2879
Davis, CA 95616
Please find presented below my comments on the University of California, Davis (UCD) Revised Field Sampling Plan for the LEHR site dated December 12, 1997.
Overall, UCD is still trying to gain approval for a significantly deficient stormwater runoff monitoring program for the LEHR site. Over the past 2.5 years DSCSOC has provided detailed comments to UCD, DOE and the RPMs on the grossly inadequate stormwater runoff water quality monitoring program that UCD and DOE have been conducting at the LEHR site. This situation was found to be so bad and UCD and DOE so recalcitrant toward addressing the issues that needed to be addressed to ensure that stormwater runoff from the LEHR site was not continuing to cause significant adverse impacts on the beneficial uses of Putah Creek, that it prompted the development of a professional paper that was presented at the ASTM Third National Superfund Risk Assessment Conference that was held in January 1998. In addition to providing UCD, DOE and the RPMs with a pre-print of this paper, an approximately 50-page report providing a detailed discussion of the specific problems associated with DOE's and UCD's stormwater monitoring program for the LEHR site was provided. Further, there have been repeated discussions of these issues at previous RPM meetings and in comments following the RPM meetings. For UCD to now attempt to gain approval for an obviously fundamentally flawed revised stormwater monitoring program as it is attempting to do, where it has largely ignored the specific guidance provided in previous correspondence, is another blatant example of the recalcitrant polluter approach that the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration has been and continues to practice. While this administration tries to present the image of being an "environmental" university in managing its waste and stormwater runoff, it is one of the worst recalcitrant polluters I have encountered in my over 38 years of professional activities.
UCD's proposed revised stormwater monitoring plan is contrived to try to avoid finding problems with stormwater runoff from the LEHR site. This is the approach that a recalcitrant polluter will follow, i.e. do the least possible to just get by regulatory agency review with no regard to the consequences to public health, surface and groundwater resources or the environment. A true "environmental" university would be leading the country in demonstrating how to properly investigate whether stormwater runoff from the university's national Superfund site is causing adverse impacts to public health, surface and groundwater resources and the environment. Specific issues of continued concern in the revised proposed stormwater monitoring program are discussed below.
Page 1.2 states in the third paragraph that this revised FSP (Field Sampling Plan) conforms to CERCLA. While I have not checked on the details of CERCLA wording of the requirements for stormwater runoff monitoring, I doubt that a proper review of these requirements would show that CERCLA allows such a grossly deficient monitoring program. I know that this FSP does not conform to CVRWQCB requirements governing UCD's NPDES stormwater runoff monitoring and management permit conditions. This permit requires a reliable assessment of the potential impacts of constituents that could be present in stormwater runoff from a permitted area. The proposed revised monitoring plan, like is predecessor, falls far short of meeting US EPA and state of California stormwater runoff monitoring requirements.
Page 1.3 states as the last bulleted item of the "specific objectives," "Provide regular groundwater, surface water, and stormwater monitoring data to evaluate impacts to groundwater and surface water quality and to support future soil and groundwater remedial activities." This proposed revised monitoring plan falls far short of developing the information needed to reliably achieve these objectives.
Page 2.5 under the last bulleted item indicates that stormwater from part of the LEHR site is, in fact, collected and discharged to the UCD sanitary sewer system. This has been an issue of concern for DSCSOC for several years. When I first became involved in this matter 2.5 years ago, it was reported by UCD/DOE that part of the LEHR site stormwater did enter the UCD campus sanitary sewer system where it was "treated" by the campus wastewater treatment plant. About a year and a half ago when I pointed out that the campus wastewater treatment plant monitoring data showed that UCD's so-called campus treated wastewaters contained excessive ammonia based on LEHR monitoring, UCD was able to convince DOE without RPM approval to stop monitoring the campus wastewater treatment plant discharge for ammonia. This was "justified" based on the fact that UCD had then determined that no stormwater from the LEHR site entered the campus sanitary sewer system
Since I was skeptical about UCD's new findings that no stormwater from the LEHR site entered the campus sanitary sewer system, I made several requests that UCD be required to monitor the flows in the sanitary sewer system leading from the LEHR site to verify that these flows did not change as a function of stormwater runoff events. To my knowledge, UCD did not publicly implement that program. However, now UCD is finally admitting again that some of the LEHR site stormwater does, in fact, enter the campus sanitary sewer system. This situation mandates that a full comprehensive monitoring program, including ammonia, be reinstated for UCD's so-called treated campus wastewaters that are discharged to Putah Creek in order to detect potential adverse impacts of LEHR site stormwater runoff.
It is well documented that UCD's campus wastewater treatment plant has been inadequately treating its campus wastewaters. While the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration has released propaganda that claims that there are no violations of its NPDES permit covering the campus wastewater treatment plant discharge to Putah Creek, such claims are obviously invalid since by UCD and the LEHR site data it has been in violation of the requirements in its current NPDES permit to control toxic discharges. Finally, the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board, at the public's insistence, stopped looking the other way with respect to enforcing regulations on waste management at UCD, and in the fall of 1997 issued a Cease and Desist Order requiring that UCD come into full compliance for protecting the beneficial uses of Putah Creek.
The recalcitrant polluter approach of the L. Vanderhoef administration has recently been again demonstrated by this administration's filing an appeal to the State Water Resources Control Board of the CVRWQCB's orders governing future operations of its campus wastewater treatment plant claiming that full compliance with Basin Plan requirements in accord with the conditions established in the Clean Water Act would represent a significant economic burden to UCD. The UCD L. Vanderhoef administration also claimed in its appeal that its past wastewater discharges were not adverse to the beneficial uses of Putah Creek. Attached to these comments is a set of comments that I have submitted to the State Water Resources Control Board on the appropriateness of UCD's claims regarding the impacts of its wastewater discharges to Putah Creek. This is relevant to the LEHR situation in that LEHR stormwater and wastewaters have been and continue to be discharged to the UCD campus sewer system for treatment and disposal to Putah Creek. Further, it is in conjunction with the pollution of Putah Creek by UCD's campus wastewater treatment plant discharges that the impacts of LEHR site stormwater runoff must be evaluated. The stormwater runoff from LEHR could make the sewage treatment plant problems more severe.
As discussed in previous correspondence, the issue is not just the adequacy of treatment of chemical constituents present in LEHR site stormwater runoff that is added to the campus sewer system, but also the influence of the additional flow which could impact the adequacy of performance of the campus wastewater treatment plant during stormwater runoff events. The increased flow could readily contribute to poor treatment for constituents derived from campus sources that, while not present in LEHR site stormwater runoff, are adverse to Putah Creek because of LEHR stormwater runoff impacts on the performance of the treatment plant.
The RPMs need to revisit the issue of the adequacy of the monitoring of the campus wastewater treatment plant discharges to Putah Creek under stormwater runoff conditions. Specific sampling of the treatment plant effluent during stormwater runoff events must be part of the UCD Revised Field Sampling Plan.
Page 2.5 states in the second paragraph, "Beginning with the 1996-1997 storm season, samples were collected from the drainage outlets for the left station, landfill unit #1, and landfill unit #3." To my knowledge none of these data have been made available for review. While there has always been a problem with making LEHR site data available for review within an appropriate time after its development, UCD has become highly derelict in making its LEHR site monitoring data available for review. The RPMs should put UCD on notice that it must make available the quarterly data reports no later than three months after a quarter sampling period occurs.
Page 3.3 under Surface Water Investigation states that the PCD sampling station location was changed. It does not mention the fact that for years those responsible for LEHR site investigations did not evaluate the stormwater runoff patterns for the site to the degree necessary to understand that stormwater from parts of the LEHR site entered Putah Creek via a drainage ditch that UCD cut through the top of Landfill #3 downstream of the so-called downstream station for monitoring the impacts of the LEHR site on Putah Creek water quality. At the time that DSCSOC became involved in this matter 2.5 years ago, LEHR site personnel claimed that no stormwater from the LEHR site entered Putah Creek except that which was pumped from the west side of the site under Old Davis Road. It has subsequently been found by visual inspection that there were two obvious stormwater discharge locations to Putah Creek that were not known to UCD and DOE personnel. While stormwater impact studies were conducted beginning in 1990, it was not until 1996-1997 that two of the major pathways for stormwater to leave the LEHR site were sampled. While sampling has been conducted in the past year or so, the analytical program carried out by UCD has been documented to be significantly deficient in properly evaluating the impact of LEHR site waste- derived constituents transported to Putah Creek in stormwater runoff.
Beginning on page 4.1 through 4.5 statements are made about presumptive remedies for various areas at the LEHR site where waste burial has taken place. It should be understood that so -called capping procedures that UCD suggests might be suitable remedies for buried waste and landfills must, if used, consist of leak detectable caps that will be operated and reliably maintained forever, i.e. as long as the wastes in the capped areas represent a threat. UCD should not think that it is going to follow the traditional approaches that are used in the field today of using caps for waste management areas that, at best, would only postpone for a short period of time when further groundwater pollution will occur from the areas. These issues have been discussed in detail in previous correspondence that DSCSOC has provided to the RPMs and PRPs.
Page 4.5 under the Old Wastewater Treatment Plant states that data have been collected to investigate whether the sludge drying beds "...present a threat to groundwater." To my knowledge, the proposed study plan as well as the data from this investigation have not been made available for review. The issue of the Old Wastewater Treatment Plant pollution of groundwaters is an area that needs specific attention at a future RPM meeting.
Page 4.7, second paragraph, UCD persists with trying to give some credence to the 100 µg/L chloroform value. For years UCD has been trying to mislead the public into believing that 100 µg/L is a concentration that is suitable for drinking water. The regulatory agencies and DSCSOC have informed UCD that its approach in this regard is technically invalid and inappropriate.
Page 4.7, last paragraph, the FSP uses the term "groundwater chemistry." This is inappropriate terminology. "Chemistry" refers to the thermodynamics and kinetics of the chemical reactions that occur in an aquatic system. UCD is not investigating any groundwater chemistry; it is simply measuring the some of the chemical constituents in the groundwaters. The proper terminology is "chemical characteristics."
Beginning on page 4.6 through 4.8 is a discussion of the Groundwater Interim Removal Action. No mention is made of the fact that the UCD L.Vanderhoef administration chose to remove only some of the constituents causing pollution in the groundwaters that are being pumped as part of the IRA Also, no mention is made of the fact that 30% or so of the re-injected, inadequately treated groundwater will not be recaptured by the groundwater recovery well, but instead will spread pollutants from the LEHR site to areas where these pollutants are not now located. This will ultimately likely require that UCD clean up the new pollution being caused by the IRA.
Page 4.14, under Surface Water Monitoring, states,
"Sampling will be conducted to evaluate the extent of site constituents of concern in the South Fork of Putah Creek, to identify potential water quality impacts from the site on Putah Creek, and to identify the potential for Putah Creek to impact groundwater. Aquatic toxicity testing has been initiated to directly assess potential acute ecological impacts to aquatic life in Putah Creek."
As discussed herein, the proposed monitoring program falls far short of achieving these stated objectives. Further, the stated objective of assessing "...potential acute ecological impacts to aquatic life in Putah Creek" is not adequate. As discussed previously and as required by regulation, the Clean Water Act and Central Valley Regional Water Control Board's Basin Plan do not restrict NPDES permitted dischargers, including stormwater dischargers, to only consider acute impacts of toxic chemicals. That approach was abandoned in the 1960s. Since 1972, the US water pollution control program for potentially toxic constituents focuses on protecting aquatic life from chronic toxicity. It has been known for over 30 years that some chemicals at concentrations 100 times less than that which causes acute toxicity can cause chronic toxicity to aquatic life. The US EPA has developed a battery of standard tests to assess chronic toxicity. UCD has been notified by the DSCSOC that it must do chronic toxicity testing of its stormwater runoff to Putah Creek and within Putah Creek in order to protect aquatic life within the Creek from chemicals that are adverse to aquatic life. The proposed restriction of toxicity testing to acute toxicity is another example of the L. Vanderhoef administration trying to do less than necessary to properly protect public health, surface and groundwater resources and the environment from UCD's management (mis-management) of its campus waste.
The importance of using chronic toxicity testing procedures in evaluating potential impacts of UCD's stormwater runoff can be demonstrated by the situation that has recently occurred where chinook salmon have been found to be spawning in Putah Creek. The hatched larvae from this spawning could be killed by toxicants present in Putah Creek waters derived from LEHR stormwater runoff and campus wastewater sources that would not be detected by acute toxicity testing. As discussed in the attached supplemental comments on the unreliable information provided by the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration in its appeal of the CVRWQCB's revised campus wastewater permit discharge requirements, UCD's failure to manage toxicity that only affects larval forms of salmon, either directly or through adverse impacts on fish food, could be a significant factor in Putah Creek not having a reproducing salmon population.
Page 4.14 in the last paragraph discusses the past flow conditions that existed in Putah Creek during the summer months, where at times Putah Creek at some locations essentially is 100% campus wastewaters. This presentation, however, does not discuss the fact that through a court order upstream water sources are now required to maintain a certain minimum flow in Putah Creek. This issue should be discussed, pointing out that this could be a significant factor in enhancing aquatic life beneficial uses, provided toxic discharges/conditions do not continue to prevail.
Page 4.15, first paragraph, states that the analytical program for surface waters is presented in Table 5. Examination of Table 5, however, does not provide a reference to the specific parameters that are included in the various groups of chemicals to be determined. The same problem occurs with Table 6 with the stormwater runoff monitoring parameters. This information may be presented in Table 8 and 8a. This section needs to be re-written so it can be understood as to what will be done.
Page 4.15, third paragraph, mentions that flow "velocities" for Putah Creek were calculated using monthly flow totals. It is unclear why flow velocities are being determined unless the sampling program is adjusted based on the velocity of the Creek waters. It appears, however, that UCD has used incorrect terminology where flow velocity should be "discharge." This issue needs to be clarified.
Page 4.15 states under Stormwater Runoff Monitoring that two storms for the LEHR site will be sampled each year. Monitoring only two storms a year of the LEHR site stormwater runoff is not adequate in light of the current information base that exists today and the significant disturbance of the LEHR site that will be occurring over the next few years associated with site remediation activities. The first storm of the season as well as an anticipated major runoff event that occurs in late fall, early winter should be monitored. An anticipated major runoff event that occurs in late December, early January and late January, early February should also be monitored. A storm that occurs in March and April and the late May storm that typically occurs should be monitored. The monitoring of the storm should not follow the approach that has occurred in the past where UCD personnel claimed that no stormwater ran off from the LEHR site in the ditch cut through the top of Landfill #3 based on a cursory visual inspection of this ditch between 9 and 10 a.m. on a rainy day. As was documented by photographs taken by DSCSOC that same day in the afternoon, appreciable stormwater from the LEHR site entered Putah Creek through this UCD so-called dry ditch.
UCD must develop a credible stormwater runoff water quality monitoring program and stop this seat-of-the-pants, cursory approach for stormwater runoff water quality monitoring that it has been practicing at the LEHR site. Automatic sampling equipment is routinely used by NPDES stormwater permittees to monitor stormwater runoff. We cannot depend on the staff being present to take samples. This is the approach that should be adopted at the LEHR site.
Page 4.16, first bulleted item, the word "diverts" should be changed to "transports."
Page 4.16, last paragraph, apparently indicates that the samples taken of the ditch that cuts through the top of Landfill #3 will be taken from a "spill pipe" located south of the north-south trending drainage ditch. The exact sampling location for this area should be clarified.
As discussed above, an additional sampling point that should be used during stormwater runoff events is UCD's campus wastewater treatment plant discharge to Putah Creek. Since LEHR site stormwater enters the campus sanitary sewer system, it could readily carry LEHR site pollutants or help contribute to treatment plant operation problems due to elevated flows that are adverse to Putah Creek. The current stormwater runoff sampling program would not detect these problems. The sampling of the treatment plant effluent must include sampling at appropriate times to consider the lag between when the stormwater from LEHR reaches the treatment plant and when the wastewater containing this stormwater is discharged to Putah Creek. This will likely require at least three samples of the effluent taken over a period of several hours.
In addition to sampling the campus wastewater treatment plant discharges associated with stormwater runoff events, Putah Creek should be sampled at least twice during a stormwater runoff event, i.e. preferably early in the event and then several hours later at the upstream (PCU), downstream (PCD), and further downstream, such as where Mace Blvd. crosses Putah Creek, to detect potential problems associated with the combination of LEHR site stormwater runoff and upstream Putah Creek constituents. The sampling at the Mace Blvd. location must consider the travel time between the LEHR site and the sampling location so that the samples collected represent the mixture of LEHR site stormwater runoff with upstream Putah Creek water.
It is important to note that the State Water Resources Control Board has adopted a policy that specifies that NPDES-permitted stormwater discharges cannot cause or contribute to water quality use impairments for the receiving waters for the stormwater runoff. The proper implementation of this policy requires comprehensive studies of receiving waters during and following runoff events.
Page 4.17, first paragraph, states that two stormwater runoff events will be sampled per year. While, as discussed above, that approach might be suitable for a conventional stormwater runoff monitoring program, for a hazardous chemical site which is undergoing remediation that could include above ground storage of waste, monitoring two storms per year is inadequate. The above mentioned monitoring program should be implemented until the site has been stabilized after remediation, and it is possible to predict with a high degree of certainty the chemical characteristics of the stormwater runoff based on past sampling. At that time, the frequency of sampling can be decreased to one storm per season, i.e. fall, winter and spring.
Page 4.17, second paragraph, again mentions flow velocity. Does UCD mean flow velocity? If so, how does it plan to measure it? It appears that those who wrote this section are not familiar with flow measurements.
This same paragraph states, "Aquatic toxicity testing will also be conducted on stormwater runoff samples for each of the three sampling locations and from both runoff sampling events." No toxicity measurements are planned of the mixture for the stormwater runoff from the LEHR site with Putah Creek water. As discussed in previous correspondence, there can readily be toxicity arising out of mixing LEHR site stormwater runoff-derived constituents with Putah Creek water-derived constituents that would not be detected by sampling each of them individually. A credible stormwater monitoring program for the impacts of LEHR site stormwater runoff-associated constituents must include sampling Putah Creek water at several locations downstream from LEHR in order to determine whether LEHR's stormwater runoff causes Putah Creek to become toxic. Further, the stormwater runoff toxicity test must be based on not just acute toxicity, but on chronic toxicity using the US EPA three species standard toxicity test. The proper test procedures has been defined by the US EPA as Lewis et al., "Short-Term Methods for Estimating the Chronic Toxicity of Effluents and Receiving Waters to Freshwater Organisms" (Environmental Monitoring Systems Laboratory, Cincinnati, OH; Environmental Research Laboratory, Duluth, MN; Region 4, Environmental Services Division, Athens, GA; Office of Water, Washington, D.C.; Environmental Monitoring Systems Laboratory, Cincinnati, OH; Office of Research and Development, US Environmental Protection Agency, Cincinnati, OH, 1994). The surface water monitoring of Putah Creek should include dry weather quarterly monitoring as well as stormwater runoff monitoring.
The SOP in Appendix A indicates that single grab samples will be taken. Evidently, no consideration is being given to first flush issues. Samples should be taken over the course of the runoff event and, if necessary, composited.
Page 4.18, first paragraph, presents information on the Neighbor Well Monitoring Program. As typical of UCD's propaganda on issues as it affects its neighbors, UCD attempts to color the results to try change its image from a recalcitrant polluter to one that is looking out for the neighbors' interests. Contrary to the statements made, the Neighbor Well Monitoring Program was not done as a "courtesy" to the neighbors; it was done to protect UCD's interests. The discussion presented about the evolution of the monitoring parameters is not accurate. It is stated "In 1994, due to concern that off-site migration of groundwater contaminants was occurring, volatile organic chemicals were added to the list for all wells." The facts are that through DSCSOC's review of the Neighbor Well Monitoring Program, UCD was required to again begin to monitor the neighbors' wells for VOCs. Further, offsite pollution of groundwater by LEHR site waste was fist documented in 1989.
Table 1 presents a list of Soil Analytical Parameters. One of the additional parameters is "anions." The anions that are analyzed as a soil parameter need to be specified with the proper reference given in the table so there is no ambiguity about what will be analyzed. This same problem occurs in Table 2 where water soluble anions are listed, but no specific listing is made of what parameters are being determined.
The total carbonate content of the soil samples should be determined to help characterize the geological matrix. The carbonate content of soils can influence the transport of a number of constituents.
The soil samples and waste taken in areas where ashes could be present, such as associated with the landfills, should include dioxin analysis.
Table 4 lists hexavalent chromium. It should also include total chromium. Again, the anions and cations should be specified. These same problems occur with Table 5 for surface water monitoring and Table 6.
The groundwater sampling should include measurement of dissolved oxygen. Failure to make this measurement will serious hamper the ability to predict transport of some constituents. Measurements of this type can be readily accomplished with down bore hole instrumentation that is readily available.
Table 8 lists hexavalent chromium and total chromium detection limits for water samples as 10 µg/L. As I pointed out previously, that concentration is not adequate for detecting potential problems associated with chromium species in aquatic systems. The detection limits for chromium must be decreased to 1 µg/L. Procedures are available for analysis of chromium at those levels.
The detection limit listed in Table 8 for mercury in water of 0.2 µg/L is too high. It is essential that the detection limit for mercury be decreased to less than 5 ng/L. This is the value that is predicted now to become the new US EPA water quality criterion for mercury in order to avoid excessive bioaccumulation. Procedures are available for analysis of mercury at that concentration.
Table 8, detection limits for phosphorus of 1 mg/L is too high. Methods are readily available to determine soluble phosphorus at 5 µg/L P and total phosphorus at 10 µg/L P. These methods should be used.
The detection limit for nitrate of 0.1 mg/L N should be decreased by a factor of 10.
Table 8 indicates that chemical oxygen demand is continuing to be analyzed. This is a waste of time and money; it is not an interpretable value in this setting.
Table 8 indicates that aquatic toxicity based on an EPA method which, based on the text, is an acute toxicity measurement, is to be used. That is not an appropriate procedure for this type of study. In previous discussions, but not in the revised sampling plan, UCD has mentioned that it plans to use adult trout for acute toxicity testing. At that time I voiced concern about this approach.
It appears now that UCD is attempting to deliberately make it difficult to find out what particular test procedures and organisms are being used by failing to provide the information in the proposed revised FSP.
It also should be understood that if toxicity is found, then UCD will enter into a comprehensive TIE program to determine the cause of the toxicity and through a TRE, control the toxicity. These issues should be specified in the FSP.
While the potential impacts of Putah Creek-associated constituents on groundwater quality are mentioned as an objective in monitoring Putah Creek, no information is provided on how this information is to be used. UCD should be required to immediately start to conduct extensive drilling along Putah Creek to sample groundwaters in the vicinity of the Creek to determine the full degree of pollution that has occurred due to UCD's inadequate treatment of its domestic wastewaters prior to discharge to Putah Creek.
Table 10 lists the IRA Groundwater Analytical Parameters. I thought there was agreement that UCD would include TOC among these parameters. TOC must be one of the standard parameters analyzed. Chemical oxygen demand can be deleted from the list since it is not an interpretable parameter in this setting.
Table 13 presents proposed water monitoring. As discussed herein, the proposals with respect to surface and groundwater monitoring are deficient.
Tables 14 and 15 present the rating curves for monitoring of discharge. It appears that this is what UCD and its consultants are calling "velocity." Cubic feet per second is not velocity; it is a discharge measurement.
Figure 13 presents the locations of the wells that are being sampled. It appears that UCD does not plan to place any wells along Putah Creek to fulfill a commitment made in this revised sampling plan to evaluate the impact of UCD's wastewater discharges on Putah Creek water quality as it impacts groundwater quality along the Creek due to the Creek recharge of the aquifer. UCD needs to establish a series of sampling stations along Putah Creek to determine the full distance that its inadequately treated wastewaters are causing groundwater pollution through recharge of VOCs.
UCD is persisting with the measurement of Eh. This parameter is not a reliable measure of any characteristic. Far more reliable information on the redox conditions of surface and groundwaters can be obtained by measuring dissolved oxygen and hydrogen sulfide.
In SOP 2-4 is presented information on measuring electrical conductivity, however no discussion of a key parameter, namely temperature impacts, is presented. I have previously commented on the deficiencies in failing to address the issue of temperature effects on electrical conductivity. UCD persists with technically invalid approaches.
The revised sampling plan is still deficient with respect to several key parameters. One of these is that it does not include bioaccumulation studies. DSCSOC has made it clear that bioaccumulation of potentially hazardous chemicals, including dioxins, must be measured each year in representative fish taken above, near and downstream of LEHR stormwater runoff points. This is to be an ongoing program that is to continue for at least three years, preferably five years, after the site has been stabilized following remediation. To argue that bioaccumulation samples are being taken by others is not appropriate. The bioaccumulation monitoring program has to be an ongoing program of bioaccumulation measurements for heavy metals and selected organics, including dioxins, that need to be conducted for at least 10 years.
Another significant deficiency with the proposed revised sampling program is that UCD still does not propose to address the translocation of waste materials from contaminated soils, landfills and waste disposal areas to the surface through plant uptake and release to the surface in leaves, flowers, etc. A comprehensive program devoted to assessing the translocation of hazardous and radioactive constituents must be initiated at the LEHR site to determine if public health, surface and groundwater resources and the environment are being endangered by UCD's failure to control vegetation that has developed roots into waste-contaminated areas. The translocation issue is well known; in fact, it is being used in some areas as a means for remediation of contaminated soils. For UCD/DOE to continue to ignore this and for the RPMs to allow them to continue to ignore it is a significant deficiency in LEHR site investigation.
Please forward these comments on to the RPMs and PRPs, indicating that I would be happy to answer any questions about them. If you or other members of DSCSOC have questions or wish further information on any aspect of these comments, please contact me.
G. Fred Lee, PhD, DEE
G. Fred Lee & Associates
Via fax (916-653-0428) and US mail
January 24, 1998
Sheila K. Vassey
State Water Resources Control Board
P.O. Box 100
Sacramento, CA 95812-0100
RE: UC Davis Wastewater Treatment Plant - Petition for Review
Dear Ms. Vassey:
I am contacting you in connection with the University of California, Davis Petition to review the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board's (CVRWQCB) revised NPDES permit WDRs Order Numbers 97-236 and 97-237 for its campus wastewater treatment plant discharges to Putah Creek to bring to your attention some comments on the UCD Petition for Review: Preliminary Statement of Points and Authorities in Support of Petition. Upon receipt of the notice of the Petition, per instructions in your letter, via US mail on January 11, I contacted James Holst requesting a copy of the Petition. Yesterday I received a fax from Patrick Schlesinger, University Counsel, which was dated January 22 but faxed about 6:00 P.M. on that day, providing me with a copy of the Petition. It took the University of California Office of General Counsel well over a week from the receipt of my letter until they sent the requested Petition.
Upon review of this Petition, I find that the University of California, Davis L. Vanderhoef administration continues its longstanding tradition of providing unreliable information on the adequacy of its campus waste management activities. Three years ago I became aware of this situation through attending a CVRWQCB board meeting. I found that there is a group of concerned citizens who needed technical assistance in understanding issues pertinent to UCD's managing campus waste. UCD is one of the few universities in the United States that attempts to manage its own campus waste. It has a long history of managing (mismanaging) its campus waste so that the wastes are significantly adverse to UCD neighbors. As an example, UCD has constructed four campus landfills. Three of these are now part of a national Superfund site; the fourth is under closure requirements because of its pollution of groundwaters. As discussed herein, UCD has a long history of using Putah Creek as its private sewer for disposal of inadequately treated wastewaters.
Over the past several years, I have volunteered considerable time to help the public review the adequacy of the UCD L. Vanderhoef approaches for waste management. As part of this effort, I have provided the Regional Water Quality Control Board with detailed, documented discussions of the significant technical deficiencies in both University of California, Davis waste management approaches as well as the CVRWQCB's enforcement of its Basin Plan requirements. Of particular concern was the inadequacies in enforcing regulations governing UCD's discharge of partially treated campus wastewaters to Putah Creek. The former executive officer for the CVRWQCB indicated in his termination hearing of the Fall of 1996 that the CVRWQCB board and staff had been looking the other way with respect to enforcing regulations governing the management of wastewater discharges to Putah Creek. The public became sufficiently concerned about this situation so that they contacted Governor Wilson asking for his assistance in this matter. The net result is that there has been some tightening up of the CVRWQCB's approach in imposing regulatory requirements on the University of California, Davis, as well as in enforcing regulatory requirements governing these discharges.
In connection with the development of the revised NPDES permit conditions for its campus wastewater discharges, I provided the CVRWQCB with detailed discussions documenting the significant technical deficiencies in both the proposed regulatory requirements and their enforcement. These comments are in the CVRWQCB files, and represent well over a year's discussion of these issues. While the University of California, Davis has large amounts of public funds to maintain, through the Regents, batteries of in-house and private attorneys to impose its recalcitrant polluter approach on the public, the impacted public in the Davis region who are concerned about Putah Creek water quality did not have access to funding needed to appeal the inadequate CVRWQCB order governing the waste discharge requirements for the continued operation of the UCD wastewater treatment plant and its associated discharges to Putah Creek. The net result was that neither the impacted public nor I filed a Petition of the inadequacies of the CVRWQCB order numbers 97-236 and 97-237.
Since the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration has a filed a Petition on what they claim is the overly protective nature of the CVRWQCB's waste discharge requirements for the UCD wastewater treatment plant discharges to Putah Creek, and since their Petition statement of November 24, 1997 contains significant unreliable and distorted information on the impacts of UCD's existing wastewater discharges to Putah Creek, I request that all of my previous comments on the significant deficiencies in the existing wastewater treatment plant discharge requirements and the enforcement of the Basin Plan objectives be made part of the record of the UCD Petition. While all of this material should be readily available in the CVRWQCB files, I can make additional copies available if necessary.
With regard to the UCD November 24 Petition statement, I wish to point out some of the significant errors and distorted information provided therein. While the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration claims on page 3, lines 20 through 26, that the CVRWQCB's Orders 97-236 and 97-237 are inconsistent with Basin Plan and Clean Water Act requirements, based on my over 37 years of professional work on issues of this type, the inconsistency is not over-regulation; it is under-regulation. Both the Basin Plan and the Clean Water Act require full protection of the beneficial uses of Putah Creek. Putah Creek is classified for full aquatic life and water supply beneficial uses. As documented in my previous correspondence, the order does not provide for high degrees of assurance in achieving full protection of the designated beneficial uses. In fact, the order is obviously significantly deficient in monitoring to assure that the provisions of the order are in fact met. As discussed in my correspondence, an independent public peer review by knowledgeable individuals would show that the currently required monitoring program set forth in the revised waste discharge requirements is deficient in reliably detecting violations of both Basin Plan and Clean Water Act requirements. These issues are discussed in detail in my previous correspondence to the CVRWQCB.
Another significant deficiency in the current order is the failure of the CVRWQCB to impose waste discharge requirements for the existing and proposed new campus wastewater treatment plant that would require that UCD wastewater discharges stop polluting the groundwaters near Putah Creek with VOC carcinogens. As part of the LEHR UCD DOE national Superfund site investigations being conducted on the UCD campus, it was found that the groundwaters near Putah Creek were polluted with chloroform and other VOCs at sufficient concentrations to represent a public health hazard to those who could use this water for domestic purposes. These VOCs are derived from UCD's inadequately treated campus wastewaters. Putah Creek recharges groundwaters which carries with the recharged water pollutants and constituents in the Creek water. If Putah Creek were classified as a landfill, UCD would now have to be initiating clean-up actions under WRCB Chapter 15 requirements to clean up the existing pollution and to stop further pollution.
The CVRWQCB Basin Plan requirements also prevent groundwater use impairment by surface water discharges from NPDES permitted sources. The CVRWQCB should have taken action in accord with both the Clean Water Act and its own Basin Plan requirements to force UCD to install treatment works to stop further groundwater pollution by VOCs in its wastewater discharges. The public has made it clear to Mr. Gary Carlton, current Executive Officer for the CVRWQCB, that this was one of their major areas of concern. The Board, however, chose not to support the public's interest as part of developing appropriate waste discharge requirements for UCD's continued operations of its campus wastewater treatment plant. I understand from discussion with CVRWQCB staff that the CVRWQCB in the past, at other locations, has taken action to stop groundwater pollution associated with surface water creek/river infiltration (recharge) to the groundwater aquifer system.
Recently, as part of the CVRWQCB's requirements to develop a revised list of 303(d) impaired waterbodies, I suggested that Putah Creek be put on this list based on the fact that it is polluting groundwaters by VOCs, and that mercury has been found at excessive concentrations in Putah Creek fish in the vicinity of UCD's campus wastewater discharges. I was told by CVRWQCB staff that since the source of these pollutants was an NPDES permitted facility, i.e. UCD's campus wastewater treatment plant, that a waterbody could not be listed as an impaired waterbody even though its uses were in fact impaired, if the source of the pollutants responsible for the impairment was in an NPDES discharge. We have another clear example of highly inconsistent regulatory approaches by the CVRWQCB. This is yet another reason why the public continues to find that the CVRWQCB is not fulfilling its mandated requirements of protecting the water resources of its region from permitted wastewater discharges. Putah Creek is an impaired waterbody from several perspectives, and this impairment is due to UCD's inadequate past and current treatment of its wastewaters before discharge to Putah Creek. This inadequacy and inconsistency in regulatory approaches must be immediately corrected.
Page four states, on lines four through nine:
"Should the University be required to comply with the WDRs as drafted, it will require it to spend public funds on treatment technology and monitoring requirements that are not justified by the condition of the receiving waters or that are otherwise required under law. The treatment technology that appears to be required under the WDRs and CDO is estimated to significantly increase the cost of the new wastewater treatment plant and would result in a significant redesign effort."
This is a highly inappropriate statement. The beneficial uses of Putah Creek have been and continue to be impaired by UCD's inadequate wastewater treatment for the constituents being regulated. Further, the WDR should be expanded to include specific discharge limits for mercury that prevent excessive bioaccumulation in fish taken from Putah Creek and the discharge of VOCs that through Putah Creek groundwater recharge lead to groundwater pollution along Putah Creek. With respect to having to redesign its new wastewater treatment plant, the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration assumed that the CVRWQCB would continue to look the other way in fully protecting the designated beneficial uses of Putah Creek as part of designing the new treatment plant. As documented in my detailed discussions submitted to the CVRWQCB, the new treatment works will not provide adequate treatment to fully protect the designated beneficial uses of Putah Creek. Further, the new WDRs have such a deficient monitoring program associated with their implementation to enable UCD to continue to discharge inadequately treated wastewaters to Putah Creek without fear of being detected by the monitoring program.
When I first became involved with this matter and reviewed the data on Putah Creek water quality about three years ago and found that there was no bioaccumulation data for hazardous chemicals that accumulate in fish in the Creek that are used by the public as food, I indicated to the CVRWQCB that they should impose this type of monitoring as part of issuing WDRs for any waste discharge to the Creek that could have bioaccumulatable chemicals such as mercury. I suggested to the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration, and specifically L. Vanderhoef, that as part of the public's requested cumulative impact study of the impact of UCD's wastewater discharges on Putah Creek beneficial uses that the university should voluntarily monitor for excessive bioaccumulation. At the time I made the suggestion, I did not fully appreciate the extent and degree of recalcitrant polluter approach that is followed by the L. Vanderhoef administration in its waste management activities.
When neither the L. Vanderhoef administration nor the CVRWQCB voluntarily or required, respectfully, monitoring for bioaccumulation of hazardous chemicals in fish taken from the vicinity of where UCD's wastewater discharges into Putah Creek, the public was able to gain the assistance of the US EPA Region 9 and the US Public Health Service ATSDR (Agencies for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry) associated with LEHR superfund site activities, in cooperation and support of the RPMs for the LEHR site to determine whether the fish taken from Putah Creek near the UCD campus contained excessive levels of hazardous chemicals that would cause these fish to be considered a threat to human health when used as food. It was through these studies that ATSDR found that fish taken from Putah Creek immediately adjacent to UCD's campus wastewater discharges contained excessive mercury and lead. Fish taken upstream and downstream from this location did not have excessive levels of these or other constituents. The area from which the fish were taken is intensely fished by the public. ATSDR recommended over a year ago that Putah Creek be posted to warn the public about this situation. Neither UCD voluntarily nor any of the regulatory agencies have either posted or required that UCD post warning signs about the hazardous nature of consuming fish taken from Putah Creek near UCD's campus wastewater discharges to the Creek. If it were not for the public's active involvement in this matter, this public health/water quality problem would still not be known.
The redesign of the treatment works that UCD is complaining about is a result of inappropriate approaches by the L. Vanderhoef administration in protecting public health and the environment from inadequately treated wastewaters. The above statement that the spending of public funds for treatment technology and monitoring requirements that are not justified by the conditions of the receiving waters or otherwise required by law is more of the misinformation and propaganda that the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration fosters on the public and regulatory agencies. Public and private waste dischargers must, in accord with Clean Water Act and Basin Plan requirements, treat wastewaters to the degree necessary and monitor to ensure that the treatment is in fact achieved in order to protect the designated beneficial uses of the receiving waters for the wastewaters. This is an explicit requirement under current law. Just because UCD has not been required to provide this level of protection of Putah Creek in the past does not mean that it is grand-fathered in to continue to use Putah Creek as its private sewer.
On page six, the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration is perpetuating its distorted approach toward protecting Putah Creek from its toxic discharges. The facts are, as first revealed in UCD's self-developed and certified EIR for its proposed wastewater treatment plan expansion, made available for public review in the Fall of 1996, and as has been further documented by CVRWQCB reports, UDC has had a longstanding problem of controlling chronic aquatic life toxicity in its campus wastewater discharges to Putah Creek. Contrary to the L. Vanderhoef administration's convoluted interpretation of the regulations, UCD, in violation of its previous and now current wastewater discharge requirements, has been discharging toxic substances in toxic amounts to Putah Creek. This is a documented fact, and is a violation of NPDES permit conditions.
The UCD L. Vanderhoef administration, in its self-certified EIR claims that since the CVRWQCB had not put a specific numeric limit for the constituents responsible for the toxicity in its previous NPDES permit discharge requirements, that the discharge of toxicity to Putah Creek did not represent a violation of the explicit narrative requirements set forth in the previous NPDES permit 92-040. I have yet to find anyone who is familiar with regulatory requirements and common sense who is not shocked with the UCD L. Vanderhoef administrations' statements in its self-certified EIR about how it can discharge toxics/toxicity to the Creek and not violate its permit conditions of no discharge of toxicity to the Creek. I have discussed the convoluted approach that the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration has on this issue in detail in the comments that I submitted on the significant technical deficiencies on UCD's proposed expansion of its campus wastewater treatment plant. My comments on this issue have been provided to the CVRWQCB and should be made part of the record that is reviewed by the State Board in connection with UCD's Petition of the CVRWQCB orders governing waste discharge requirements from existing and proposed treatment works.
Page six, beginning on line 20 through 28 states:
"In this case, the evidence presented to the Regional Board did not allow them to make the required determination under the first part of the Basin Plan's narrative toxicity objective. The written and oral testimony of Dr. Peter Moyle, a scientist who has spent considerable time and effort in the study of the health of the south fork of the Putah Creek, provided evidence that no in-stream toxicity is occurring. Balanced against this scientific evidence is the speculation of the staff, found at page 3 of its October 23, 1997 Response to Comments, that the UC Davis discharge 'may be having effects on other organisms in the food chain that are not readily observed by studies such as those conducted by Dr. Moyle.' The staff did not provide any evidence of such effects."
This statement is another of the recalcitrant polluter propaganda approach that the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration perpetuates. As discussed in detail in my previous submissions to the CVRWQCB, I personally talked to Dr. Moyle's graduate student who did the work on the nature of the studies that he conducted on characterizing the fish populations in Putah Creek. These studies would never be accepted in a properly peer-reviewed arena as credible studies to demonstrate that the discharge of toxicity in UCD's wastewater effluents is not adverse to the beneficial uses of aquatic life in Putah Creek. As appropriately discussed by the staff, those knowledgeable in this topic area would readily agree that UCD's discharge of toxicity could be adversely affecting the beneficial uses of Putah Creek that would not be detected by the superficial studies that were conducted by Dr. Moyle with respect to assessing the impact of toxicity to the beneficial uses of Putah Creek. His studies were not designed to address this issue. They are also not reliable for assessing toxicity impacts of the type that are routinely regulated across the country in POTW discharges to receiving waters.
I tried several years ago to get the L. Vanderhoef administration to voluntarily start an instream toxicity monitoring program as part of assessing the cumulative impacts of its wastewater discharges to Putah Creek. The L. Vanderhoef administration refused to undertake such a study, and refused to incorporate this type of information in its self-serving cumulative impact study that was included in its EIR for the development of a new campus wastewater treatment plant. Finally this year, for the first time, toxicity studies will be done on Putah Creek under the auspices of the Yolo County Department of Health in cooperation with the CVRWQCB.
Page seven, lines one through eight, is more of the distorted information that the L. Vanderhoef administration tries to use to support its position that it is permissible to discharge toxicity to Putah Creek, even though its previous and current NPDES permit prohibits such discharges. The discussion in the first paragraph of page seven about how a laboratory staff member who was doing the analysis for UCD has made some general comments about the possible unreliability of the analysis they are conducting certainly has no credibility in assessing the adequacy of treatment. UCD chose the lab to conduct the toxicity tests. If UCD feels that the lab is not doing the work adequately, then it should choose another lab. UCD should not be allowed to go year after year as it has done, finding chronic toxicity in its wastewaters discharged to the Creek, and then claiming that these results are not reliable because the toxicity test has variability in the chronic endpoint. Toxicity tests of this type are routinely used across the US to regulate POTW discharges. They are appropriate regulatory tools. The statements by the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration at the top of page seven about how a laboratory staff member characterizes the endpoint have no relevance to the issues of concern.
In page seven's second paragraph, beginning on line nine, the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration, in its convoluted approach to managing its wastewater discharges, asserts that UCD should not be required to control the concentrations of potentially toxic constituents in its wastewater discharges because other wastewater dischargers are not required to analyze their wastewaters for the potentially toxic constituents that UCD has found to be present in its wastewaters. They did not point out, however, which was done in the self-certified EIR, that UCD has been aware of its chronic toxicity discharge problem for a number of years, and has conducted TIEs to try to determine what could be causing the toxicity. From the last report that I have, they still have not identified the constituents responsible for this toxicity. However, as part of examining its wastewaters for potentially toxic constituents, it found several that were not previously known to be present.
While the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration likes to compare itself to other small communities in the Central Valley with respect to its wastewater characteristics, the fact is that UCD wastewaters are not typical of a small community, but are more like that of a complex industrial research operation, where a wide variety of chemicals are used on campus in various research projects that have been dumped down the sewer as part of disposal. It is not at all surprising to find exotic chemicals in UCD's wastewater discharges that could cause toxicity in aquatic life that are not found in typical municipal wastewater discharges.
The statement on page seven, beginning on line 15, that UCD now claims
"This is especially problematical after UC Davis informed the staff that the data were not collected or analyzed in accordance with the most rigorous quality control/quality assurance procedures."
This is more of the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration convoluted thinking. First, a pretreatment program is required to use appropriate QA/QC in the characterization of its wastewaters. To now admit that it did not follow requirements, and claim that the data was unreliable because it found high concentrations of potentially toxic constituents, is one of the most inappropriate approaches I have ever encountered to try to avoid following regulatory requirements that are mandated by the current approach for implementing the Clean Water Act.
Page eight, lines two through five, states that UCD would have to add a capital cost of $19 million and $2 million in annual operating costs to potentially meet the waste discharge requirements set forth in the revised NPDES permit. The UCD L. Vanderhoef administration in its Petition statement did not include that UCD has found that it would be cheaper for the campus to discharge its wastewaters to the City of Davis sewerage system, where there would be significant potential for dilution of the exotic chemicals in its wastewaters below critical levels. The UCD L. Vanderhoef administration in its discussion of why it does not want to exercise the less expensive approach for managing its connection wastewaters, i.e. connection to the City of Davis sewerage system, claims that such a connection would not allow the flexibility that the University has now in managing its wastewaters.
The L. Vanderhoef administration still has not, at least publically, began to understand that it will not be allowed to continue to use Putah Creek as the campus private sewer. The public, and to an increased extent, the CVRWQCB will no longer be ignorant of the situation or look the other way. As discussed in my previous correspondence, every month or so the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration announces another expansion of the campus, including a Disney Theme Park which will bring many thousands of visitors to the campus. Putah Creek has a limited finite ability to assimilate wastes. It is not possible to continue to expand the campus facilities and provide only minimal treatment of the wastewater before discharge to Putah Creek. UCD could readily have to initiate activated carbon and/or reverse osmosis treatment, as well as other advanced treatment technologies to remove the variety of complex chemical constituents that are discharged to its campus sewerage system to levels that will protect the beneficial uses of Putah Creek.
Page eight, lines 20 through 21 states:
"As stated above, and in the administrative record on these orders, the receiving waters of Putah Creek do not indicate a toxicity problem resulting from the UC Davis discharge."
This statement is false. The administrative record for the review of the adequacy of the treatment plant discharge requirements contains extensive discussion by me on why Putah Creek should be impaired by UCD's wastewater discharges. First, there is ample documentation of chronic toxicity in the effluent at the point of discharge. Second, there is substantial data that shows that UCD has been discharging ammonia to Putah Creek at toxic levels. This data arose from the LEHR site monitoring program. When I pointed out, as an advisor to the public, that this monitoring program showed that UCD was discharging ammonia at excessive concentrations compared to US EPA water quality criteria and Basin Plan requirements, UCD, without LEHR Superfund site RPM approval, got DOE to stop monitoring the campus wastewater discharges to Putah Creek. This is one more example of the long list of documentation for the recalcitrant polluter approach that exists under the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration. While UCD claims that the new treatment works will solve the ammonia problem, UCD does not have a good record of providing reliable information on issues.
It is common sense that if toxic constituents and toxicity are being discharged in a wastewater to a stream with limited dilution that there are toxic effects in the receiving waters. Just because Moyle's students' studies did not see them, based on physical examination of the fish, does not mean they are not there. The effects would not be on large fish of the type that have been examined by Moyle's students. Those familiar with the topic area know that the effects are not likely to be visible on the exterior fish taken from Putah Creek
While the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration complains, on page eight, lines 22 to 24, about the increased monitoring, this monitoring is still significantly deficient compared to what should be required for this type of effluent when discharged to a creek like Putah Creek. Contrary to the statement made on page nine, lines two and three, "In addition, the increased monitoring is not supported by facts or findings in the record." the full administrative record for review of the adequacy of the proposed waste discharge requirements and its associated monitoring documents the need for monitoring well beyond that required by the orders in question. At a previous University of California, Davis waste discharge requirement hearing, when I suggested to the CVRWQCB that monitoring of the type that the Board is now beginning to implement in its waste discharge requirements, including chronic toxicity in the receiving waters for the discharge, the previous Board Executive Officer stated that such monitoring would be "precedent setting," implying that it is inappropriate to take UCD, and for that matter other discharges in the region, out of the 1960s level of BOD and suspended solids monitoring approach into the late 1990s, where the focus is now on the control of toxics.
Page nine, beginning on line six, the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration lists specific actions requested, including retaining "...the existing limits for coliform and chlorine found in Order No. 92-040." In my previously submitted comments to the CVRWQCB, I have discussed in detail the deficiencies in the existing coliform and chlorine discharge limits and their associated monitoring programs. I have had graduate students do their master's theses and Ph.D. dissertations on the fate, persistence and impact of POTW discharged chlorine. It is well-documented in the literature that aqueous chlorine from a POTW can cause significant adverse impacts to aquatic life in receiving waters at concentrations in the order of 10 to 15 g/L. I further pointed out that the past, and for that matter proposed, order requirements for monitoring of chlorine are not adequate to protect Putah Creek aquatic life. UCD should be required to routinely monitor total chlorine in its effluent with a reliable detection limit of less than 10 g/L. Rather than relaxing the existing order as UCD requests, it should be strengthened to ensure that adequate monitoring of chlorine in UCD wastewaters is accomplished.
I have also discussed in detail why a significantly increased monitoring of the sanitary quality of UCD's campus wastewaters as they are discharged to Putah Creek should be required. I have repeatedly documented through photographs that the area immediately downstream of where UCD's wastewaters are discharged into Putah Creek is intensively used for swimming by children and young adults. At times, the waters at this location can be essentially 100% UCD wastewaters. Rather than relaxing the coliform monitoring, the sanitary quality monitoring should be significantly increased to include not only coliforms, but also enteroviruses and human protozoan pathogenic cysts on the organisms. Further, this area of Putah Creek should be posted by UCD to warn people that they are swimming in UCD's inadequately treated campus wastewaters, which could cause disease and possible death to the swimmers. As I have commented, there is substantial likelihood that UCD's NPDES permit will need to be reopened to place specific limits on human pathogenic enteroviruses in the discharges in order to protect the public from acquiring disease through contact with Putah Creek water.
Page nine, lines nine and 10 includes the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration propaganda about "...the lack of scientific evidence of any toxicity problem in Putah Creek..." As discussed herein, there is substantial evidence, and it is common sense that there is a toxicity problem in Putah Creek based on UCD's monitoring data on the characteristics of the effluent and the Creek. Rather than decreasing the monitoring of toxicity as UCD requests, a greatly expanded toxicity monitoring program of the type that I have previously recommended should be imposed on UCD. The approach that the L. Vanderhoef administration promulgates of limiting the monitoring in order to avoid finding problems is obviously that of a recalcitrant polluter and strongly contrary to the public's interest. As I have discussed previously, the burden of proof for demonstrating the appropriateness of the degree of treatment of its campus wastewaters that are discharged to Putah Creek should be on UCD, not the public or the environment. It is only through appropriate intensive monitoring can it be certain that the protection of the beneficial uses of Putah Creek are in fact being achieved.
Page nine, line 12 states: "the Sludge Pond Groundwater Limitation should be revised to be consistent with the Basin Plan." No information is provided in the Petition as to what the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration currently perceives as the Basin Plan requirements for sludge pond groundwater limitation. I pointed out in my review of this matter that there is a high probability that UCD sludge ponds are violating Basin Plan and Porter-Cologne requirements of polluting or being a threat to pollute groundwaters. I recommended to the CVRWQCB that it should significantly strengthen the groundwater protection requirements associated with UCD's sludge ponds in order to prevent future pollution.
Further, the CVRWQCB should require that UCD conduct a comprehensive vadose zone and groundwater monitoring to determine the extent and degree of existing groundwater pollution by these sludge ponds. If, as expected, the sludge ponds are in fact polluting, or are a Porter-Cologne threat to pollute groundwaters, then UCD should be required to take the sludge pond out of operation and begin remediation of the vadose zone and any polluted groundwaters arising from the use of ponds for sludge management.
Many of the previous reports and back-up documents to these reports that have been submitted to the CVRWQCB presenting my review of the inadequacies of the then-proposed orders governing waste discharge requirements for UCD's continued operation of its campus wastewater treatment plant and for the operations of the new treatment plant when it comes on line are available from my web site (http://members.aol.com/gfredlee/gfl.htm) as downloadable files. Further, information on my qualifications to make these comments is provided on this site.
If there are questions or comments about these comments, or any of the materials that I have previously submitted to the CVRWQCB, all of which should become part of this administrative record, please contact me.
G. Fred Lee, PhD, DEE
Copy to: Governor P. Wilson
J. Caffrey, Chair, WRCB
W. Attwater, Chief Counsel, WRCB
W. Pettit, Executive Director, WRCB
E. Schnabel, Chair, CVRWQCB
G. Carlton, Executive Officer, CVRWQCB
D. Denton, US EPA
L. Vanderhoef, UCD
P. Schlesinger, UC University Counsel
W. Jennings, DeltaKeeper
J. Olmo Resendiz
G. Fred Lee & Associates
February 4, 1998
Sheila K. Vassey
State Water Resources Control Board
PO Box 100
Sacramento, CA 95812-0110
RE: UCD Davis Wastewater Treatment Plant - Petition for Review
Dear Ms. Vassey:
I wish to follow up on my recently submitted comments on the inappropriateness of the University of California, Davis to claim that the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board's waste discharge requirements for the campus wastewater treatment plant are overly-protective to discuss an additional issue that should be reviewed that has occurred since when I submitted my original comments. My original comments were submitted in accord with the timetable that was set forth originally where I provided comments within a day after I received the materials from the University of California system attorney. I wish at this time to supplement those comments with a discussion of the chinook salmon spawning situation in Putah Creek. Enclosed is a photocopy of a newspaper article discussing this situation. Salmon have previously used Putah Creek for spawning; they are attempting to use it for spawning now. My reason for raising this issue is that it provides an illustration of the inappropriateness of Peter Moyle's statements about how UCD's wastewater discharges are not adverse to fish populations in Putah Creek.
While teaching at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I had a number of students do their master's theses or PhD dissertations on fish homing characteristics. We worked specifically with coho salmon returning to certain tributaries of Lake Michigan. While most migratory fish tend to home based on chemical signals to their original stream, a few, like the pair of chinook that were recently observed in Putah Creek, select another waterbody for spawning. This provides an opportunity for re-introduction of a homing population to a waterbody like Putah Creek, provided that the water quality in the creek is suitable for larval fish which are the most sensitive stages to toxicants. This means that the waters should not be toxic to the larval forms as well as to key components of the food of the larval forms, i.e. zooplankton. Since larval forms of fish and some zooplankton are much more sensitive to most toxicants than adult forms, the situation could readily be occurring where UCD, either alone or in combination with other discharges and runoff, is causing toxicity to larval forms of fish and/or zooplankton which serve a fish food which would prohibit the re-establishment of a homing population of chinook salmon in Putah Creek.
The Moyle superficial approach toward addressing the toxicity issues would not detect this situation. Chinook salmon could have been trying for years to spawn in Putah Creek, only to have their offspring killed by inadequate waste treatment associated with UCD's wastewater discharges without producing visible signs of abnormalities in adult fish or the numbers and types of fish present in Putah Creek. The Moyle statements on behalf of the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration about how UCD's wastewater discharges are not adverse to the beneficial uses of Putah Creek do not reflect a proper assessment of the situation.
If there are questions on these supplemental comments, please contact me.
G. Fred Lee, PhD, DEE
Copy to: Governor P. Wilson
J. Caffrey, Chair, WRCB
W. Attwater, Chief Counsel, WRCB
W. Pettit, Executive Director, WRCB
E. Schnabel, Chair, CVRWQCB
G. Carlton, Executive Officer, CVRWQCB
D. Denton, US EPA
L. Vanderhoef, UCD
P. Schlesinger, UC University Counsel
W. Jennings, DeltaKeeper
J. Olmo Resendiz
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