Coastkeeper reaches agreement with Department of Defense to reduce Camp Pendleton sewage spills

Environmental watchdog agency San Diego Coastkeeper and the Department of Defense announced they have settled litigation to reduce the number of sewage spills at Camp Pendleton. Under the Clean Water Act, a federal law that governs water pollution, Coastkeeper filed suit on April 18, 2011, to address Camp Pendleton’s upward trend in the number of sewage spills.

Last week’s agreement formalized a commitment by the Department of Defense to reduce the number of Camp Pendleton sewage spills to 10 or less each year by 2017. It also ensures that Camp Pendleton will alert Coastkeeper about spills larger than 50,000 gallons or spills that result in a beach closure. Coastkeeper, which protects and restores fishable, swimmable, drinkable waters, will use that information to update the public about human and environmental risks through its beach status website and Swim Guide phone app.

“The Department of Defense plays an important role in our region, so it’s encouraging to see its dedication to ensure clean and safe waters for its troops, our community and the environment,” said Coastkeeper’s Jill Witkowski.

The agreement outlines a goal of reduced number of sewage spills for each year until 2017, when Camp Pendleton should see ten or less in each year. Provisions in the settlement allow for the agreement to cease before 2017 should the Department of Defense reach 10 or less spills for two consecutive years before 2017. As part of the agreement, Coastkeeper will earn reasonable attorney and expert fees.

Another component of the agreement is a pledge from both parties to build stronger working relationships that will help address issues in the future without resorting to lawsuits.

--Staff Reports