News Feature | January 29, 2018

Treatment Plant With Dead Rodents Had Ignored Problems For Years

Peter Chawaga - editor

By Peter Chawaga

Apparently, one of the most unsettling water treatment reports to make headlines last year was even worse than many realized.

In October, Camp Pendleton, a California military base that serves 55,000 Marines and their families, entered a consent decree to deal with water safety issues that included rotting rat corpses and a desiccated frog at its treatment plant. New reports reveal that officials had been warned of these problems as much as four years earlier, without any action taking place.

“For nearly four years before federal and state environmental watchdogs descended on Camp Pendleton during a late June inspection, contractors had warned military leaders about apparently persistent problems with the base’s water system, according to newly released documents,” The San Diego Union-Tribune reported. “Obtained under the federal Freedom of Information Act, the records were generated between 2014 and mid-2017 by contractors hired to clean and inspect Camp Pendleton’s 34 water reservoirs.”

When the U.S. EPA finally sent investigators to the plant, they found the dead animals that led to the consent decree. But the contractor files list a litany of problems at the plant over the years.

According to the Union-Tribune, these problems include a lack of mandatory inspections actually taking place, sediment present in the water and a leaking reservoir and broken or missing water level indicators.

“Almost two years later, another inspection revealed many of the same issues, along with foundation cracks, a corroded steel base and pitted interior, no cathodic protection and another device rusted out,” per the Union-Tribune. “Plus, the site was overgrown with weeds.”

Though problems were apparently rampant and went ignored for years, the good news is that federal regulators have been made aware of the deficiencies and the consent decree should ensure that those served by Camp Pendleton’s treatment plant receive clean water.

For similar stories visit Water Online’s Drinking Water Regulations And Legislation Solutions Center.