Category Archives: Other Documents

January 29, 2014: Molalla Pioneer Article

City of Molalla threatened with lawsuit

Created on Wednesday, 29 January 2014 00:00 | Written by Peggy Savage
A local conservation group, Bear Creek Recovery, provided notice Friday to the city of Molalla that it intends to file a civil lawsuit in federal court to protect Bear Creek and the Molalla River from violations of the city’s Clean Water Act permit.

Bear Creek Recovery’s concerns arise from the city’s history of unlawful operation of its wastewater treatment facility and what Bear Creek Recovery considers a failure by the city to take corrective action.

A 60-day notice included with the letter stated: “Unless the city takes the steps necessary to remedy ongoing violations of the CWA and the NPDES Permit, BCR intends to file suit against the city of Molalla in the U.S. District Court immediately following the expiration of the required sixty day notice period, seeking injunctive relief and civil penalties in the amount of $37,500 per day per violation enumerated below and for any additional, similar violations that BCR may discover subsequently.”

The notice to the city was made via certified mail in a letter dated Jan. 24, 2014.

City Manager Dan Huff said Monday morning that the city of Molalla had not as yet received the notice concerning the lawsuit.

“If we do receive something, our attorneys will handle the issue,” Huff said.

The city of Molalla operates its sewage treatment plant under a permit issued by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.

The city disposes of treated wastewater during the dry months by spraying the wastewater on fields outside the city limits adjacent to Bear Creek. The DEQ permit places limits on the irrigation practices utilized by the city and on its disposal of biosolids and management of the sewage treatment plant.

DEQ records show that the city has violated the terms of the permit over the past five years, particularly during the summer months, by applying treated wastewater on unauthorized land sites and in quantities that caused ponding and runoff on the fields.

The city’s largest irrigation field, which includes sections of Coleman Ranch, surrounds a stretch of Bear Creek, contains a number of sensitive wetlands and contributes flow to the creek, especially when the soil is saturated.

DEQ sent several warning letters to the city last fall notifying city officials of the violations and directing the city to cease the unlawful activity. The DEQ, however, has not brought an enforcement action against the city of Molalla.

Hansen, a local citizen, is concerned over the potential for pollutants to reach Bear Creek, impacting fish and wildlife habitat as well as posing a risk to the public who live and recreate near the creek.

“We can no longer sit back while DEQ looks the other way,” Hansen said. “We have a right as citizens to uphold the Clean Water Act and see that the city shows progress toward improving water quality in Bear Creek and the Molalla River.”

Under the Clean Water Act, individual citizens or groups may bring an action against an alleged violator. The citizen suit provision of the Clean Water Act serves to supplement both state and federal government enforcement actions so that all citizens can protect the waters they care about and depend upon.

This would be the second time that the city of Molalla is sued under the Clean Water Act for mismanagement of its sewage treatment plant. The city was also sued in 2006 for similar violations, said Christopher Winter, staff attorney and director of Crag Law Center, a public interest law firm based in Portland.

“It’s a sensitive topic,” Winter said. “We are hoping that the city will make a genuine effort to comply with this permit over the next two months, and we hope to be able to talk to the city about it.”

Winter said he handled the 2006 lawsuit against the city of Molalla for Molalla Irrigation Company. That case resulted in a settlement.

“Molalla Irrigation was involved, and a big part of that settlement related to irrigation practices,” he said. “So in many ways, the problems addressed by that settlement seem to be recurring.”

Maura Fahey, a legal fellow with the firm, stated that “Bear Creek Recovery is hopeful that we are able to resolve these issues with the city before formal litigation becomes necessary.”

Bear Creek Recovery is an Oregon non-profit organization formed to advocate for and protect the environment of Bear Creek and the surrounding community. Bear Creek Recovery has members who live, recreate, and work in the Bear Creek watershed, including near fields where the city of Molalla sprays and irrigates fields with recycled wastewater from the Molalla STP facility. Bear Creek Recovery is working to protect the Bear Creek watershed from threats to environmental and public health.

BCR board members include Jeff Lewis, chairman; Harlan Shober, vice chairman; Susan Hansen, secretary; Patricia Ross, treasurer; Pat Conley and Mitchell Ross.

Copied 8/23/2014 from:

July 2013: Draft Recycled Water Use Plan for MSTP (41-pages)

As part of the process for renewing their permits, Molalla STP prepared a draft Recycled Water Use Plan (RWUP), dated July 18, 2013.

“The City irrigates the Coleman Ranch, Jorgensen property, and the wastewater plant, in the summer to make it until the next discharge cycle. We treat the irrigation water with the same process as the water discharged to the Molalla River.”

– text from pg.8 of this draft RWUP

The text within this draft RWUP specifically notes that the reason for irrigating is to “…make it until the next discharge cycle.” In other words, this is seen as a simple engineering problem: manage the accumulating wastewater until the date arrives, sometime in the fall, when it is again legal to discharge directly into the Molalla River. It is that simple.

To appease citizen concerns, they promote this irrigation as a ‘beneficial use’. Officials pretend there are no health issues associated with this treated wastewater, but given the history, can we really trust that this ‘treated wastewater’ has been adequately ‘cleaned’? Can we be confident that the wastewater being used to irrigate pastures for grazing cattle and other properties does not have hazardous (and persistent) elements such as synthetic pharmaceutical compounds? Is it possible that using this water to irrigate at Coleman Ranch and other locations is triggering other problems, such as blooms of E.coli contamination?

The key question is this: would it be safer and healthier, and would we thus be better off, if we stored the MSTP wastewater through the summer then discharged into the river during the rainy season? And, if so, do we have sufficient storage capacity at the MSTP lagoons to pursue this as a real option? Or, are the MSTP ponds too small, or too plugged with accumulated sludge that has not been regularly removed?

September 2008: McElmurray’s Senate Testimony About Biosolid Contamination at Two Dairies in Georgia

Briefing on “Oversight on the State of Science and Potential Issues Associated
with EPA’s Sewage Sludge Program”
September 11, 2008


R. A. McElmurray & Sons, Inc.
2010 Brown Road
Hephzibah, Georgia 30815

Chairman Boxer, Ranking Member Inhofe and Honorable Members of the Committee, thank you for the privilege of testifying today about the destruction of our dairy farm business by hazardous wastes in sewage sludge, which was land-applied by the City of Augusta, Georgia.

Cattle Deaths, Milk Contamination

My name is Andy McElmurray, and with me today is my attorney, Ed Hallman of Decker, Hallman, Barber & Briggs in Atlanta, Georgia. Mr. Hallman has led a team of attorneys and experts for the last 10 years in an effort to recover compensation for the destruction of my family’s dairy farm business, which resulted from hazardous wastes in Augusta, Georgia’s sewage sludge. My testimony addresses the history of sewage sludge applications to my family’s farmlands. The City of Augusta invited us to participate in its land application program and assured us that the sewage sludge was safe for growing forage crops to feed to our dairy cattle.

We began receiving sewage sludge applications in 1979 and continued until 1990. On our farm, we grew forage crops to feed to our dairy cattle, and we grew row crops as well. In 1998, after hundreds of head of cattle sickened and died, we learned that Augusta’s sewage sludge contained extremely high levels of hazardous wastes that were toxic to diary cattle.

Another prize-winning dairy farm in the area owned by the family of Bill Boyce was hit even harder, and the owners had to abandon the dairy farm business altogether. Our families, who have farmed our land for three generations, have lost tens of millions of dollars in property value, lost property and agricultural products.

For over two decades, the City of Augusta, Georgia failed to enforce federal and state regulations requiring local industries to treat hazardous wastes before discharging them into the City’s sewers. The City also fudged, fabricated and invented data required under the Clean Water Act to make its sewage sludge appear to qualify as “Class B biosolids.” The bogus fertilizer ended up sickening and killing hundreds of dairy cows on the two dairy farms.

Milk samples collected from one of our farms still using forage grown on lands which received sewage sludge contained high levels of heavy metals and other sludge contaminants. Additional samples of milk pulled from shelves in grocery stores in Georgia and surrounding states also contained some of the same heavy metals at levels exceeding EPA’s safe drinking water standards. Unsafe levels of heavy metals in various samples included thallium, a rat poison toxic to humans in very small doses. Earlier this year, U.S. District Court Judge Anthony Alaimo rejected Augusta’s fabricated data and ruled that the U.S. Department of Agriculture must compensate me and my family for crops that could not be planted, because thousands of acres of land were too contaminated with hazardous chemical wastes from Augusta’s sewage sludge. Our dairy, which was once one of Georgia’s most productive dairy farms, was destroyed by the heavy metals, PCBs, chlordane, and other hazardous wastes that local industries dumped into Augusta’s sewer system.

(Click on page two to read further testimony, including ‘How it Happened’, ‘The Gatekeepers’, ‘The Mehan Letter’, ‘How Widespread are the Problems’, and ‘Conclusion’.)

April 2007: Signed Consent Decree resolving Molalla Irrigation v. City of Molalla

The image below is page one of the 19-page Final Consent Decree, in which City of Molalla paid fines and agreed to comply with specific monitoring requirements. The city also agreed to be transparent with data for a two year period, by regularly posting data online. Click on this [LINK] to open or download a PDF copy of the complete document….
20070411.. Consent Decree settling Molalla Irrigation et al v. CIty of Molalla (pg.1 pic)

January 1999: Sludge Magic at the EPA

…David Lewis is a prominent EPA Whistleblower. The following is a copy of one of his many articles about the long history of failure in EPA’s biosolids programs….

Sludge Magic at the EPA
The Journal of Commerce; January 27, 1999
by David L. Lewis, Ph.D.

According to scientists working for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Research & Development, the Sludge Rule on land application of municipal wastes (40 CFR Part 503) promulgated in 1993 may be the most scientifically unsound action ever taken by the agency. Rather than being protective, the rule actually threatens public health and the environment.

In short, EPA’s sludge rule permits land application of dried urban sewage — called “sludge” — in lieu of dumping it in the ocean, which is now prohibited. About half of the sludge from municipal waste treatment facilities across the U.S., containing human sewage, agricultural runoff and industrial wastes, is now being used to fertilize farmland, national forests, and other areas. This amount is rapidly increasing as states and waste
disposal companies pressure local communities to use sewage sludge and assure the public that the EPA has determined it to be virtually risk-free.

In 1972 Congress amended the Clean Water Act directing EPA to develop regulations for disposing of sewage sludge. A U.S. District Court in Eugene, Oregon followed suit in 1990, issuing a consent decree requiring the agency to promulgate the regulations within two years.

Remarkably, the agency’s position on this issue reveals a sort of environmental doublespeak– traces of pesticides, heavy metals, and industrial wastes that environmental officials have long argued cause cancer and other major public health problems — are now said to be completely safe for disposal on farmlands, forests, even home lawns and gardens.

The science behind EPA’s sludge rule, according to some of the agency’s own scientists who reviewed it, was so bad it was popularly deemed “sludge magic”. Because sludge contains human pathogens and trace quantities of mercury, lead, and other toxic metals, applying it to areas used for growing food crops and selling bags of it to home gardeners is a source of concern. Ecologists also have reservations about the effects of nutrients, toxic metals, and other pollutants leaching from sludge into surface and groundwater. Indeed, government researchers in Canada collaborating with scientists at the University of Quebec last year published a study showing that forests treated with sewage sludge released toxic metals in amounts that exceeded water-quality criteria for protecting aquatic organisms.

Disease-causing microorganisms that can lie dormant or proliferate in soil treated with sludge are even more disconcerting to microbiologists. Samples taken this year from land [Alice Minter Trust farm] in north Kansas City contained 650,000 salmonella and E. coli bacteria per 100 grams of soil -many thousands of times higher that what is considered safe by public health officials. The source, apparently, was sludge applied in the area
before 1992.

The appearance of new strains of staphylococcus, tuberculosis, E. coli and other bacteria –some of which are completely resistant to modern antibiotics — has led to a resurgence of life-threatening infections that were once easily treated. Spreading sludge, which contains such superbugs flushed down hospital sewer lines, on farms and home gardens throughout the U.S. has scientists both inside and outside of EPA understandably concerned.

With increasing numbers of children dying from E. coli strain O157 traced to an assortment of products, including strawberries and hamburger meat, citizens are becoming increasingly concerned over agricultural products imported from less developed areas of the world where human waste serves as cheap fertilizer. Content that syringes and rubber gloves no longer litter our beaches, few policymakers and reporters seem even slightly curious about how our government solved the problem of ocean dumping of municipal wastes.

Still, it is what EPA’s sludge rule says about many of the agency’s other regulations that seems most enigmatic. When asked why pesticides, organic solvents, toxic metals and other pollutants in sludge pose virtually no risk to public health or the environment, agency officials point to a lack of documented cases of anyone becoming sick from exposure to sludge. Critics argue that the same can be said of traces of pesticides and other industrial chemicals in drinking water. EPA’s position on sludge, they say, shows that agency regulations are based on political expediency, not sound science.

Dr. Lewis has a Ph.D. degree in microbial ecology, works as a research microbiologist for the U.S. EPA Ecosystems Research Division, and is an adjunct scientist at the University of Georgia.
DISCLAIMER: These comments represent Dr. Lewis’ personal views, not official policies of the U.S. EPA. This article is part of a joint study by the Lexington Institute and the Institute for Policy Innovation, “Out of Control: Ten Case Studies in Regulatory Abuse.”
Copied 8/14/2014 from:
Minor edits may have been made by

June 1994: An EPA Brochure Promoting Application of Biosolids

…this brochure was issued in summer 1994, to promote application of biosolids on farmlands, in forests, and to accelerate the reclamation of strip mines and other damaged lands. It is presented here in JPEG format, including the front cover, inside cover, and all 32 numbered pages….

19940600.. Biosolids Recycling, Beneficial Technology, EPA brochure p.0 (front cover)

(…Click on page two to view the remaining 31-pages of this EPA brochure…)

May 1977: President Carter’s Environmental Message to Congress

On May 23, 1977, President Jimmy Carter issued an Environmental Message to Congress. Relevant to the Molalla Sewage Treatment Plant, it specified the need for $45 Billion to be spent on more than 10,000 municipal sewage system projects. Here is an excerpt:


The nation has made considerable progress in cleaning up its waters under the program set forth in the 1972 amendments to the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, but much remains to be done in order to achieve the Act’s goal of fishable and swimmable waters. Three areas deserve particular attention:

(1) To help control pollution from municipal sewage systems–an effort that currently involves 10,000 projects in planning or under construction–we need substantial additional funding. I have already asked the Congress to authorize the expenditure of $4.5 billion in each of the next ten years for municipal waste water treatment facilities and to allow a one year extension in the September 1977 deadline for the obligation of construction grant funds. But at the same time we need to be sure that sewage projects supported by federal money do not create additional environmental problems, and that they are designed to encourage water conservation as well as water treatment. We also must ensure that the systems are operated properly once they have been built; that there is an effective pretreatment program to remove harmful industrial wastes from these systems; and that we are carefully considering alternative solutions, particularly in smaller communities, so that we can be sure of building the projects which are economically and environmentally most effective.