What could possibly beat a wild capybara emerging from the murky waters of a California sewage pond? Rodents of unusual size have a wide following. (Exhibit A: the classic Rob Reiner film “The Princess Bride.”) And capybaras are prized as a Peruvian delicacy (Exhibit A: My food critic brother Jonathan Gold). But I’m pretty sure that the rodent in question didn’t escape from anyone’s vermin ranch.
Also, what the heck was the capybara doing in the wastewater pond to begin with? I know the animals love water, but Amazonia is a long way from Paso Robles. And the Amazon’s pristine waterways seem a lot more appealing than poorly treated Central Coast sewage.
The settling pond photos look like something from before the dawn of sewage treatment technology. And they are! The plant was built in the 1950s and has not been modified since then to provide nitrogen removal. The 3 million-gallon-a-day plant definitely needs a major overhaul and Paso Robles is considering joining the 21st century on wastewater treatment (an estimated $50M for adding filtration and denitrification).
Meanwhile, be on the lookout for rodents of unusual size in Paso Robles.