A sign at Mule Creek State Prison warns of contamination.

On November 20, 2020, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) reported to the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services a Hazardous Materials Spill Report for Mule Creek State Prison (MCSP). Approximately 1,007,681 gallons of sewage, industrial waste and stormwater was released by opening the outfall gates leading to Mule Creek in order to prevent overrunning of the stormwater system and wastewater treatment plant at MCSP.

In direct defiance of the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB) Orders that have confirmed that MCSP has commingled sewer systems, and that runoff contains Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s) and Semi Volatile Organic Compounds (SVOC’s), MCSP continues to open the slide gates any time there is .25 inches of rain in less than an hour.

The RWQCB and CDCR have been in negotiations and even requested public comment on a settlement stipulation. However, none of the public comment has ever been made public. Additionally, the RWQCB has not issued a final opinion.

The California Sports Fishing Alliance issued an “intent to sue” letter to CDCR and is still in the 60-day waiting period for any action to be taken.

The City of Ione has called for county, state and federal assistance for help in dealing with wastewater from Mule Creek going into local waterways at their meeting on Tuesday, November 17, 2020. The city council had scheduled approval of a letter to Amador County authorities asking for an update and calling for action on the situation with sewage from the state prison running off into the Mule Creek waterway.

The problem has persisted for years despite several citations from state water authorities. At the urging of several members of the public, the council widened the distribution of the letter to state and federal authorities, as well as the Federal Environmental Protection Agency.

For now, hope that it doesn’t rain in Ione, as it appears CDCR will continue to open their gates and contaminate Mule Creek.