The Pasadena Star-News has released a two-part expose on South Pasadena's almost incomprehensibly crappy sewage system (complete with violation maps and damning documents). Turns out the consequences of its crappiness have extended far beyond one quaint little village of antique lampposts and leafy sidewalks.

It's almost painful to say, but here goes, without further ado: Federal and local investigators discovered that “26 separate raw sewage spills over the past four years” dumped “121,040 gallons of untreated wastewater” …

… into the Los Angeles River, the Arroyo Seco, the Pacific Ocean off Long Beach, and other local waterways. (Poor Long Beach has the misfortune of sitting right at the spill point for the L.A. River, subjecting it to more that its fair share of sewage and gutter trash, among other unmentionables.) Along with waste, the South Pasadena pipes released “solids, pathogens, grease, oil and toxics.”

Long Beach deals with South Pasadena, circa 2009.; Credit:

Long Beach deals with South Pasadena, circa 2009.; Credit:

Excuse us for a second, while we go puke up a Halloween's weekend worth of chocolate bars and gummy substances.

The disgusting joint investigation was conducted by the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Justice, representatives from which were recently shown around the 75-year-old sewer system by city officials, their pale government faces frozen in horror, no doubt.

After the review, the Regional Control Board told the Attorney General's Office that the city lacked “any significant operation and maintenance program” to prevent both past and future leaks from its 54 miles of pipeage, Oh, and uh — “South Pasadena failed to report every sewage spill to the state.” Small side-note.

If the Attorney General declares a violation of Clean Water Act, taxpayers be looking at $2.8 million in fines.

So now — just now, after all these years of horrific undersight — the fairly well-off city is considering a rate hike in sewage fees of 31 percent by the year 2016, so they can get around to tinkering with those pesky old pipes.

“It is a sign that we have an aging infrastructure,” Assistant City Manager Sergio Gonzalez tells the Star-News of the findings. (Ya think?)

Thanks a bunch, South Pas, for screwing up the rest of our water while you were at it.


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