A whistleblower’s complaint to state regulators about wastewater treatment plants at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks has prompted the state to again order park management to clean up its act.
The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board issued the notice of violation last month. This is the second notice this year.
The new notice involves the wastewater treatment facility at Grant Grove and orders the parks to allow only employees familiar with the operation of the plant to fill out self-monitoring reports required by the state.
An official said Friday the parks will make the necessary changes.
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We are developing a response for the state, and we are addressing the paperwork issue cited in the violation.
Colleen Bathe, of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks
“We are developing a response for the state, and we are addressing the paperwork issue cited in the violation,” said Colleen Bathe, chief of interpretation, education and partnership at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.
In August, the regional board issued a notice of violation ordering the park to prevent overflow at the Clover Creek wastewater treatment plant at Lodgepole.
In a letter, park superintendent Woody Smeck blamed the plant operator for the overflow and said the park service was spending $1 million to upgrade the Clover Creek plant.
Dale Oviedo, the former chief plant operator for three wastewater treatment plants in the parks, said he is the whistleblower.
He said in the year that he served as chief plant operator, he visited the Grant Grove plant three times for a combined total of two hours. He said his bosses told him to sign the paperwork anyway, even if he didn’t actually see the plant in operation.
“They said, ‘You took the job, man, you have to do it,’ ” he said. “One person cannot be the CPO of three plants miles and miles from each other. It’s physically impossible.”
Oviedo now works for another federal agency.