Coastal nitrogen (N) enrichment is a global environmental problem that can influence acidification, deoxygenation, and subsequent habitat loss in ways that can be synergistic with global climate change impacts. In the Southern California Bight, an eastern boundary upwelling system, modeling of wastewater discharged through ocean outfalls has shown that it effectively doubles N loading to urban coastal waters. However, effects of wastewater outfalls on biogeochemical rates of primary production and respiration, key processes through which coastal acidification and deoxygenation are manifested, have not been directly linked to observed trends in ambient chlorophyll a, oxygen and pH. In this paper, we compare observations of nutrient concentrations and forms, as well as rates of biogeochemical cycling, in areas within treated wastewater effluent plumes compared to areas spatially distant from ocean outfalls where we expected minimum influence of the plume. We document that wastewater nutrient inputs have an immediate, local effect on nutrient stoichiometry, elevating ammonium and nitrite concentrations by a mean of 4 µM and 0.2 µM, respectively, increasing dissolved nitrogen: phosphorus ratios by a mean of 7 and slightly increasing chlorophyll a by a mean of 1 µg L-1 in the upper 60 m of the watercolumn, as well as increasing rates of nitrification within the plume by a mean of 17 nmol L-1 day-1 and increasing δ13C and δ15N of suspended particulate matter, an integrated measure of primary production, by a mean of 1.3 ‰ and 1 ‰, respectively. We did not observe a significant near plume effect on δ18O and δ15N of the dissolved nitrate+nitrite, an indicator of nitrate+nitrite assimilation into the biomass, instantaneous rates of primary production and respiration, or dissolved oxygen concentration, suggesting any potential impact from wastewater on these is moderated by other factors, notably mixing of water masses. These results indicate that a “reference-area” approach, wherein stations within or near the zone of initial dilution (ZID) from the wastewater outfall are compared to stations farther afield (reference areas) to assess contaminant impacts, may be insufficient to document regional scale impacts of nutrients.