Storm water at Mule Creek State Prison.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) is using storms to dump a mixture of industrial waste, sewage, gray water, and stormwater containing Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and Semivolatile Organic Compounds (SVOCs) into Mule Creek, violating direct orders to cease and desist from the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB) that regulates the CDCR and the Mule Creek State Prison (MCSP) facility.

On May 15, 2020, Amador County Counsel sent a 60-day notice of its intention to sue CDCR with regard to violations of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, commonly known as the Clean Water Act (CWA). The county alleges that CDCR is engaging in ongoing violations of the CWA by discharging pollutants from MCSP into Mule Creek, without a permit, as is required by the CWA. Unless CDCR enters into a binding agreement with the county to cease all illegal discharges and to fully and promptly remediate the impacts of all past, current and imminent violations, the lawsuit will be pursued 60-days from the date of the notice (May 15, 2020).

While there has been no official response from CDCR, two days after receiving the notice (Sunday, May 17, 2020) the slide gates were once again opened in defiance of direct orders, dumping an additional 1.25 million gallons of pollutants into Mule Creek.

The single domestic well, monitoring well, surface water sampling reports from April of 2018 show Fecal Coliform, E. Coli (Escherichia coli), Benzoic Acid (food additive), Bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (used as plasticizer in PVC pipe, household items and IV tubing), tetrachloroethylene (cancer causing chemical), among numerous other contaminants. RWQCB’s own staff said there is commingling of the three sewer systems (domestic, prison industries, and the storm water sewer systems) at MCSP.

Property owners within the plume of contamination claim some wells have disappeared from Google mapping while a series of eight more domestic well, monitoring well, surface sampling tests were to be conducted.

They never occurred.

To date there have been no further domestic well, monitoring well and surface water sampling tests, including the minimum of eight the RWQCB required CDCR to complete more than two years ago. Additionally, CDCR is going to open the slide gates every time there is a tenth of an inch of rain within an hour, or three-tenths of an inch of rain within 24-hours allowing for the continued release of toxic waste into Mule Creek carrying chemicals, VOCs and SVOCs – defiance of another RWQCB order.

CDCR’s very own 16,000-plus page report points out hundreds of breaks, defects, flaws and faults with their domestic, prison industry and storm water sewer systems.

None of the sewage treatment plants currently in use are designed to handle the types of industrial waste and contaminants being produced at MCSP. In the original 1985 contract between CDCR, Amador County, the City of Ione and the Amador Unified School District for MCSP, CDCR was to construct a facility in a manner consistent with specific hydrology and wastewater treatment mitigation measures, as well as laws and regulations governing wastewater and treated effluent.

It was never built.