San Francisco was given a notice from the EPA Wednesday, finding them in violation of the Clean Water Act.
President Trump had previously warned that the EPA could be sending San Francisco a punishment for allegedly allowing homeless trash and waste to overburden San Francisco’s sewer system and let it go out to the ocean.
“There’s tremendous pollution being put into the ocean because they’re going through what’s called the storm sewer that’s for rainwater,” said President Trump last month. “We have tremendous things that we don’t have to discuss pouring into the ocean. You know there are needles. There are other things.”
The EPA’s letter to the city included the president’s earlier allegations, as well as including sewer discharges into the ocean containing bacteria and heavy metals. The letter also noted that the San Francisco sewer system has not been diligent on the upkeep of the system.
San Francisco mayor London Breed has denied the allegations, stating that the attacks by the EPA are politically motivated and that San Francisco’s sewer infrastructure is sound.
“The Environmental Protection Agency has been systematically dismantled and politicized under this current administration,” said Mayor Breed in a statement. “ The notice of violation issued today contained a series of mischaracterizations, inaccuracies and falsehoods, and is the latest example of the Trump administration’s attack on our city and our state. San Francisco has a combined sewer system, one of the best and most effective in the country, that ensures that all debris that flow into storm drains are filtered out at the city’s wastewater treatment plants. No debris flow out into the Bay or the ocean. In fact, the EPA recently awarded San Francisco the largest, merit-based award it has under its competitive loan program for water infrastructure.”
Recent actions by President Trump and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler are only the latest that the administration has had with the city. Mayor Breed and Governor Gavin Newsom have defended the city and the state, and since 2017, the state of California has brought out nearly 60 lawsuits against Trump administration policies, most notably on environmental initiatives.
Wheeler also recently accused the state of California of failing for decades to “carry out its most basic tasks under the Clean Air Act,” in a recent letter to Mary Nichols, California Air Resources Board Chairwoman.
John Londgren, a public policy worker who worked with the EPA on several local initiatives in the 2000’s, was not surprised at the back and forth.
“California has made it clear that they don’t want Trump policies to interfere on their own,” Londgren told the Globe. “That was made very clear just recently with the Car Emissions fight. This is just another part of that. Only this time he’s focusing on a city and county that not only voted against him but has held constant protests and issued proclamations against him.”
“There’s always been that kind of sentiment here,” Longren continued. “In the 60’s and 70’s Johnson and Nixon were targets over some of the largest Vietnam protests here. In the 80’s the Gay community went out against Reagan. Clinton had several protests against him. Bush, of course, over Iraq.
But [Trump] is different. It’s been constant, I’ll say displeasure, coming not only from San Francisco, but the entire state. [Former Governor Jerry] Brown didn’t back down and Newsom isn’t backing down, and of course Trump won’t either. It is retaliatory on all of them for all they’re doing on this, but on the other hand, they both want their policies to stick and not have the other guy take them down.
We’re only going to see more and more of these tiffs until either Trump is out of office or California gets to run more on it’s own. At this point compromise is out the window.”
As of Thursday, Mayor Breed has stood by her statement that the city will not stand for the notice and has done nothing wrong, with no word from the President or the EPA on what will happen next.sfpuc-npdes-violation-notice-2019-10-02