View it and weep.
I went to the CSD office yesterday and checked out the videotape of CSD’s in-house engineer, Rob Miller’s Nov 7, ’05 power point presentation of the comparisons that were run during the negotiations with the State Water Board, the CSD’s negotiating team and Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee. Darrin Polhemus, the Assistant Division Chief of the State Water Resources Control Board (Sacramento), vetted the numbers. Mr. Polhemus has been described by all parties as an expert who has a wide base of knowledge and extensive experience about all the systems that were looked at and compared. All the numbers were in “real time,” and did not include any "fines" or the millions that may have been lost when the previous board started pounding state money into the ground weeks before the recall election. (The additional heartbreak comes in knowing that if the previous CSD board had honestly run these same comparisons in, say 2001 or 2002, all the numbers would have been waaaaay cheaper overall than what this community is faced with now.)
The results were shocking. The three treatment plants (not the collection systems) compared were the ponding, the ditch/oxidation and the MBR (what’s proposed for the TriW site). Not surprising, the MBR plant (Tri-W) was the most expensive, without question. Yet, no matter how you looked at the numbers, all three plants came in cheaper overall with the out of town site. This was because the out of town site allowed more flexibility in long term O & M costs, deferred costs such as ag-exchange, dewatering, and on-site sludge treatment and disposal.
In short, when the previous CSD repeatedly told this community that the out of town sites had been considered and had been found to be either undoable or waaaaay more expensive than the plant at the Tri-W site, how could that possibly have been true? The plants would have been the same, the comparison points would have been the same, the overall results would also have been the same.
So, now, here’s some of the concerns and the questions that this community MUST ask at tonight’s CSD meeting, 11/22/05: (6 p.m. at the Community Center: Public comment prior to going into closed session: Public portion of the meeting will begin at 7:30 - 2 items on the agenda)
1. Democracy can only operate with an informed citizenry but that information must be accurate and correct. False information can only lead to bad decisions. The previous CSDs have repeatedly and adamantly maintained that they had carefully studied all options and the Tri-W site was the cheapest and best. We were told there were NO alternatives.
2. The Nov. 7 presentation makes it clear that there were, indeed, alternatives available. Were the numbers run and vetted by the state during the negotiations false? Or did the previous CSD lie about doing a comparison study of the out of town costs? If so, was the community tricked by demonstrably false information into “signing onto” a fraudulent project? (No matter how the numbers are run, the Tri-W project and site can’t ever be described as being the cheapest, especially when the “deferred” costs of ag-exchange, O&M & R, sludge treatment and importing State water are factored in.)
3. Was this community locked into massive debt by the previous CSD, a debt also based on patently false information? Does this constitute fraud? If so, then this community really shouldn’t sign onto anything until there’s a full investigation into this matter.
Meantime, I would urge everyone in Los Osos to check out the tape and watch it. Rob’s presentation is the first item up and it doesn’t take long. I’m sure copies of the spread sheet of his numbers can be made available at the office, if they aren’t already in the Board Book.
Then it’ll be time to ask the saddest question of all: Were we all conned and defrauded and sold a false bill of goods by our previous CSD? If so, then it’s time to set this right and do it now.