Santa Paula City Council: Sewage Spill and Community Policing

By Sheryl Hamlin

In the first installment of the November 2, 2015 Santa Paula City Council meeting, various citizen related announcements and requests were reported.

Waste Water Plant Spill

Under Staff Communications, the City Manager reported on the October 31, 2015 sewage spill at the city owned waste water treatment facility. Mr. Fontes, an attorney, first reviewed a prepared statement. In this statement, Mr. Fontes described the response from numerous agencies to the sewage spill emphasizing that there were no emergencies and no evacuations, although the area was closed to vehicular traffic. PERC, the operator of the plant, is continuing to work with the city staff. The waste water facility is back up, the membrane pump running again, and the plant operating normally. The City Staff, along with Patriot Environmental, work to clean up the public right-of-way, while PERC has engaged Servpro to clean the building. Tanks are on site with materials from the spill. Such materials will be processed later at low peak time. City staff and PERC are researching the sequence of events that led up to the incident. A report will be forthcoming as soon as the facts are vetted. In the interim, he urged caution in avoiding statements prior to release of facts. Brian Yanez and/or Caesar Hernandez are available for information. Mr. Fontes thanked the PERC staff who worked together with the city.

Council Member Gherardi also thanked the staff and PERC for their help in keeping the city apprised of the situation. She said the response was quick, but this is a “relatively new plant” and she was “not sure this should have happened”. She asked specifically that City Manager address these questions: why would a relatively new plant have failed in such a manner. City Manager Fontes said there was no timetable to complete the investigation.

To hear this discussion, please click here and start at 29:33.

Note that later in the SOAR agenda item, two property owners near the spill reported issues. Elon Bender reported “damage” and Dave Lippert reported riding his motorcycle through strange “mud”. Nothing was said about the organic farm which reportedly received spillage, as reported in the Santa Paula Times, nor was the organic farm property owner present.

COPS: Community Oriented Policing Services

COPS is a federal program which is part of the Department of Justice. The item on the agenda was not to accept the $100,000 funding, but to approve the allocation of these grant funds.


The itemization of the grant spending as proposed is:

  1. $2,600 for on-going operational costs to maintain the Las Piedras Community Policing building.
  2. $31,000 for year-round firearms training.
  3. $30,306 for two part time records clerks.
  4. $15,418 for one part time evidence officer.
  5. $20,676 for the facility upgrade.
  6. $12,361 carryover from previous grant for equipment

The item was approved without discussion.

The last installment of the November 2, 2015 meeting will include SOAR and LAFCO.


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