Eureka’s wastewater treatment plant. File photo.


The City of Eureka’s wastewater treatment facility releases its treated wastewater into Humboldt Bay near its facility by the Elk River. Nearby, surfers play at Stinky Beach and Humboldt Bay residents collect seafood.

The City had been operating on the assumption that the treated sewage discharged from its Elk River Wastewater Treatment plant washes out to sea, but a 2014 study determined that much more of the treated sewage remains in Humboldt Bay than was previously understood. In 2016, the City was ordered by the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board to “cease and desist” discharging into Humboldt Bay and move to an ocean discharge by 2030. The City is instead asking for an exemption to existing water quality rules so it can continue pumping up to 12 million gallons of treated sewage into the bay near the Elk River Spit.

Surfrider Foundation and Humboldt Baykeeper are requesting the City to thoroughly examine the feasibility of moving to an ocean discharge or to commit to significant upgrades that will improve water quality in Humboldt Bay and that they hold at least one public workshop on the matter. Jen Kalt of Humboldt Baykeeper and Delia Bense-Kang of the Surfrider Foundation join the show to talk about where your waste goes when you flush and the impacts to Humboldt Bay.


“The EcoNews Report,” Sept. 18, 2021.