In Sept. 2015, the City of Molalla signed a binding Consent Decree to settle the Bear Creek Recovery Clean Water Act lawsuit. The Consent Decree was signed by current City Manager Dan Huff and by then Mayor Deb Rogge, with the approval of the Molalla City Council, which included Current Molalla Mayor Jimmy Thompson.
The Consent Decree was expressly designed to require much needed improvements to Molalla’s failing wastewater facilities and to provide transparency via notification of violations to Bear Creek Recovery. BCR agreed to allow fines generated by violations of the Consent Decree to be used to build a City of Molalla fund to be devoted to I&I (Inflow and Infiltration) and biosolids removal to help improve capacity and wastewater management functions.
Crag Law, on behalf of Bear Creek Recovery, just issued a Notice of Request of Resolution for Violation of Consent Decree that details over six million dollars in potential penalties for known violations of that Decree. The Notice outlines Molalla’s failure to even comply with “simple payment and reporting provisions” and that it has “repeatedly failed to complete required tasks in the timelines…”
The Notice Conclusion states: “It is clear from the nature of the City’s violations… that the City’s wastewater treatment facility is experiencing major capacity issues related to inflow and infiltration, lagoon storage capacity, and new sewer connections…the City has demonstrated an inability or unwillingness to comply with the terms and conditions …that it expressly agreed to in order to improve the operation and maintenance of the facility. If the parties are unable to resolve the issues…Bear Creek Recovery intends to pursue formal contempt proceedings… to seek further injunctive relief and civil penalties…Bear Creek Recovery believes a moratorium on further sewer connections within the City may be appropriate, as well as Court oversight of the City’s actions…”.
The people of Molalla deserve better management of their limited public money than to have managers who consistently fail to uphold legal agreements and who violate wastewater permits. Bear Creek Recovery strives to protect local watersheds and will do everything necessary to enforce permits and the Consent Decree.
Here is the Notice of Request of Resolution for Violation of Consent Decree filed on Feb. 1, 2018:
At 7:00pm on Wednesday, January 28th, the Molalla City Council and the Molalla Urban Renewal Agency (MURA) will conduct Regular and Executive Meetings. The public is invited to attend the Regular Meeting sessions, which will be held at the Adult Center.
(click on image to learn more at the cityofMolalla.com website)
In preparation, the City of Molalla posted two large PDF documents, which can be viewed/downloaded via these links:
Bear Creek Recovery reviewed the documents. Three items were found that relate to the BCR mission: a scope/budget approval for contract work related to NPDES, spending approval of seven flow meters to monitor sewer I&I, and proposed tax abatement for Pacific Fibre Products, Inc. Two of these items were already approved; the third item is proposed. Details and links are provided below:
(1) Brown & Caldwell Project Scope:
NOTE: NPDES stands for National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System. This is a federal system managed by the U.S. EPA, to ensure proper management and handling of pollutants so that water quality is protected. An NPDES permit is required before wastewater can be discharged into Bear Creek or the Molalla River. Application of sewage sludge (aka, biosolids) on farmland and other sites, is also subject to federal guidelines.
This issue was brought up at the 12/17/2014 Molalla City Council meeting, and approved.
(click on image to view entire 12/17/2014 draft meeting minutes)
(2) MSTP Flow Meters for I&I:
NOTE: ‘I & I’ is inflow and infiltration. Both terms refer to the invasion of extra and unwanted water into the raw sewage flow. Infiltration is water that leaks via poor pipe seals or pipe fractures. Inflow is the addition of rainwater and other liquids that is improperly piped into the sewer lines. An ‘I&I Analysis’ is done to assess the quality of a sewer system in terms of leakage.
This issue was brought up at the 1/14/2015 Molalla City Council meeting, and approved.
(click on image to view entire 1/14/2015 draft meeting minutes)
(3) Proposed Tax Abatement for Pacific Fibre:
NOTE: The following was included in the 1/14/2015 ‘City Manager’s Report’:This proposal seeks to continue to waive tax payments for a company operating in Molalla. In trade, the company is to pay new employees at a high wage level, IF they hire any new employees. Molalla forgoes tax revenues in exchange for what is potentially (?likely?) zero benefit.
The proposal is listed cryptically on the agenda, as a ‘5 year enterprise zone agreement’, with no mention of the company involved, or the impacts of that company (both positive and negative). A city deficient in parks and behind on maintaining and upgrading it’s sewers is thus giving away needed funds.
Is this a local example of ‘Crony Capitalism‘? Will the City Council reject this bad idea? Will they ask the hard questions on Wednesday, or do citizens need to speak up?