One World Beef permit in limbo

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City of Brawley’s newly expanded wastewater treatment plant, currently operating at only 25% of capacity. Photo by Lloyd Miller.

BRAWLEY — One World Beef (OWB) continues to wait on a building permit from the city of Brawley to begin the construction of their biofilter system to treat the company’s wastewater. According to One World Beef, the treated wastewater will be used for irrigation on a nearby farm field. The city of Brawley has indicated that additional information is required for the permit.

Currently, the plant is discharging wastewater into their on-site ponds. These ponds are nearing capacity. They have approximately two weeks until the ponds are full, according to the California Regional Water Quality Control Board. If the biofilter system is not constructed to treat the wastewater, the plant will shut down as it cannot discharge into the city wastewater treatment plant.

With approximately 175 employees, the plant is in production. The needed jobs, ancillary businesses, and operating plant are expected to greatly contribute to the Valley’s struggling economy.

“From our end, things are in compliance at OWB,” said Jose Angel, executive officer of the California Regional Water Quality Control Board on Thursday. “I was there yesterday and inspected the ponds. I did not notice any objectionable odors. OWB has yet to get its construction permit from the city for its biofilter plant. It should have been somewhat perfunctory. So, I really don’t know what the problem is. Our concern is, obviously, that the ponds will be reaching capacity in a couple of weeks.  If OWB cannot discharge to the city, it will have to shut down. I just don’t know what additional info the city needs to build what is essentially a four wall container.”

Brawley mayor, Sam Couchman, was asked in an interview with The Desert Review what the city of Brawley was doing to resolve the blockage of the permits so OWB could operate on a permanent basis.

“We are doing everything we can to help facilitate One World Beef,” said Couchman. “It is our duty to the city to make sure its citizens are protected. We don’t want another million dollar fine from the water board. OWB must comply with our requests and get that information to us for any building permit. I’m not really aware at what stage the permit is in right now. When they do get a permit, it could take months to build this biofilter system. At this time, OWB does not have a request to discharge wastewater to the city.”