Friday, June 17, 2005

O Lucy, Jooo Gotta Lotta ‘Splainin’ to Doooo

Do get a draft copy of Cleath and Associates’ Ground Water Management Plan. Then borrow the videotape of the May 19 special CSD meeting, also available at the CSD office. Watch, as that nice Mr. Spencer Harris, of Cleath & Assoc. informs the CSD Board:

a) The community is now in overdraft by some 560 acre feet of water.

b) After private domestic and irrigation production use by people outside the Urban Service Line is accounted for, there is some uncertainty as to how much water will be available for use by our community.

c) Remember when we were told repeatedly that disposal of the wastewater at Broderson site was the best and only possible option and that all other sites had been studied and rejected? Well, when asked whether the so-called Andre (out of town) site would be a better site for disposal of wastewater, District Manager Bruce Buel stated: “We haven’t done the modeling and analysis to determine what the yield would be out at Andre or what would happen if you did Ag Exchange instead.”

d) And remember how our sewer was supposed to be a recharge plan that would avoid ever having to import water? Here’s Mr. Harris again: “How much [imported water we will need] is dependent on how much of the upper aquifer water we can use. We need to look at the quality, we need to drill the harvest wells, we need to test them, we need to do the feasibility study on treatment and that sort of thing...” As for “nasty stuff” like endocrine disrupters, carcinogens, chemicals & etc that may be present in the upper aquifer, “The emerging contaminants have not been tested in the upper aquifer.” (Emphasis mine.)

e) If the upper aquifer is unusable, then water will have to be imported and that cost added to the estimated $200 monthly bill. Tapping into the state water project would require a pipeline to Morro Bay; tapping into Nacimiento water would require a 14 mile pipe past SLOTown. Building costs: unknown.

So, the CSD plans on a sewer plant groundbreaking ceremony in July, even though it’s still uncertain whether there will even be enough water at all to sustain the community even before build out.

We also don’t know whether the Andre site would have been better for disposal because we never tested it. Nor do we know if Ag Exchange would be economically better because we didn’t analyze that information.

We don’t know whether the upper aquifer is full of nasty stuff because we never looked. If there is nasty stuff in there, we don’t know whether it will even be economically feasible to clean it up for use. And we don’t yet know the cost of importing supplemental water.

Yet the three CSD board members who face a recall election have been hurtling pedal to the metal, spending money, signing contracts, getting this community locked into this project, while noting that water shortage problems will be dealt with later, whatever the costs.

This is like hiring an architect to build your home. First he builds a really expensive roof and suspends it from a crane. Then he adds one wall, telling you he’ll figure out where to put the other walls later, after the house is finished. When he’s about to pour the concrete foundation, he finally fesses up that he doesn’t know if the land he’s pouring on will support all that concrete because he didn’t bother to check. But he keeps digging and pouring anyway.

And while he’s spending all your money, not once does they guy ever bother to ask you if you can afford the project in the first place or whether you actually do want it built in a swamp.

If that were your architect, would you fire him? Well, a lot of community members have decided that it’s time to fire their “architects,” and see if re-thinking this project right-side-up might solve some of most critical problems before breaking ground. So, an election date of Sept 27th has been set for the recall and the related sewer initiative.

Meantime, a state appeals court has put a temporary hold on the state sewer funds, thereby possibly blocking further debt on the community before the election. And the CSD will legally challenge the sewer initiative in order to get it knocked off the ballot. So, stay tuned. It’s going to be a bumpy night. --Ann Calhoun, Los Osos, 6/8/05


NewsstandGreg said...

Thought I'd get the ball rolling and post a comment here. I've moved to Lompoc and they have a very good waste disposal system (sewer)!

Churadogs said...

Lucky you. Los Osos will get a sewer eventually, but the question a lot of townsfolks (who will be paying for the thing) want to ask and answer is: What sewer and where do we want it sited? In the middle of town? Out of town? And what is the real (honest, now) cost for each site? And since we'll clearly need to import water, how much MORE will that be, and other such questions.

Of course, the biggest question of all is this: How in hell did such a project get sooooo screwed up in the first place?