We all remember where we were (and how long it took us to get where we were trying to going) that fateful day, last September 8 2011, when San Diego went dark. While traffic lights were black, televisions were silenced, and we dug candles out of the closets, a larger problem was brewing under our streets. Two of the city’s major sewage pump stations and multiple electric substations failed resulting in 3.5 million gallons of sewage being released into the ocean. It closed stretches of the coast from Solana Beach to La Jolla and Coronado to Chula Vista.
The US Green Chamber was vocal in support for a new plan to correct this oversight. Sewage spills not only foul the environment and threaten our health, but also cost local businesses money in lost revenue when tourists and local citizens alike avoid contaminated beaches, ocean going activities, and marine commodities.Calling for immediate action, we utilized our directory, blog, and social media outlets to bring awareness to the matter.
An investigation revealed that the failure occurred because both pump stations rely solely on electric power with no backup generators and no ability to divert flows or shut down the plant systems. Since both plants receive power from two different electric substations, it was widely felt that further backup measures were unnecessary. The likelihood of multiple plants being affected simultaneously seemed slim.
In light of the September 8 outage propelled by San Diegans and fore-fronted by the US Green Chamber of Commerce, the San Diego Public Utilities Department is moving ahead today with a plan to outfit four area pump stations, including the two involved in the spill, with diesel powered generators. These backup generators will be leased with the intent to install permanent generators by mid-2013. Remaining area pump stations are not targeted because they have diversion plans in place already in the event that electric power is lost. The estimated cost of $12 million will come from the city’s operations budget and will not move forward until it has been approved by the city council.
We are invested in seeing this through and will continue to monitor this issues progress.