At the Brawley City Council meeting this week, the council discussed the application of One World Beef for an interim permit to discharge to the city wastewater treatment plant. Without that permit, One World Beef will have to cease operations on March 1, 2017, and lay off its 195 current employees. That will lead to the closing of the facility permanently.
One World Beef expressed its frustration in getting the city to approve the discharge permit, which it needs because the city has not approved building and grading permits for the company’s new on-site biological wastewater treatment system. This new system is a significant advancement in responsible waste water management both lowering the plant’s carbon footprint by using 90% less energy to operate as well as by reclaiming hundreds of millions of gallons of water that the company will use to irrigate forgeable crops.
The use of this new treatment system has been thoroughly reviewed and unanimously approved by the Regional Water Quality Control Board. Yet the city can’t seem to find a way to grant simple building and grading permits for constructing what amounts to large concrete boxes.
As for the city accepting One World’s wastewater on an interim basis, this could easily be accomplished with a simple decision by city staff. The company has provided all the necessary data, as confirmed by the executive director of the Water Board, and the city has more than enough capacity to take many times the volume of water that One World is proposing to discharge (one tenth National Beef’s levels) and stay well within their compliance limits with the Water Board.
Given that Brawley suffers the highest unemployment rate in the state, it’s unfathomable how the city, the one constituent that stands to gain the most from One World’s success, has offered the least amount of help and instead put up nothing but roadblocks.
The IID gave millions in grant dollars, the county of Imperial gave a low interest partly forgivable loan based on job creation, the State of California gave training reimbursement dollars and both the State and the federal government gave millions in substantial tax credits. Why? Because they all recognized how powerful hundreds of new jobs created by One World (195 and counting to date…) will be for the city and Imperial Valley. And what has Brawley given? Nothing but headaches, delays, and excuses for keeping the company from adding jobs more quickly.
The city council must take a hard look at how the city is currently being managed and decide if preservation of the status quo is the right path. Twenty-three percent unemployment and empty shops and restaurants is something they want to actively participate in changing, or not. It seems like just plain common sense to help out a company that’s actually making a positive impact.
Armand Nicholai, CFO
One World Beef