The following was written by Rob Shipe, who also wrote the piece I posted on 3/10, “Law of Unintended Consequences.” He is working with the SAFE group of targeted Los Osos 45 residents to prepare for the upcoming CDO hearings in April. I find his comments in the second paragraph under ‘Where We Are Now” particularly telling. Old, untrue tapes playing in the heads of the Regional Water Board members was what I witnessed during the Dec. ACL hearings. Old, untrue information being presented by the staff. That alone should get the attention of everyone in town since we’re ALL targeted by this same Board and Staff. GIGO can have profound implications to a community.
Where We Are And How We Got Here
Like most of our community, many of us have not paid a whole lot of attention to the “sewer” issues in Los Osos over the years. Our feeling was that we specifically elected individuals to handle this situation for us. Let them do their jobs. That however, is no longer our position. We are all recipients of the Water Boards attempt to issue Cease and Desist Orders to our community. Over the past month we have spent incredible hours studying ground water issues in Los Osos. We have read countless files from the Water Board, many reports from Cleath & Associates, as well as individual conversations with many who have lived on the front lines of this issue over the past twenty plus years, on all sides.
On September 16, 1983, The Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board (CC-RWQCB) adopted resolution 83-13 requiring the County of San Luis Obispo to build a sewer and a water management plan in Los Osos no later than November 1, 1988. The county moved very slowly towards these goals. By the late 90’s they had finally developed a plan to implement a sewer when and organization called “The Solutions Group” proposed local control of the sewer with a promise of “Better, Cheaper, Faster”. They envisioned a small facility; treating only the worst areas and this would allow them to accomplish their three stated goals. Unfortunately they were not able to meet those goals.
After many project changes, the community voted in a close decision to abandon the plan. A new group gained control of the CSD last year. Unlike their predecessors, they do not claim, better, cheaper, faster. They only claim better. In short, 22 year after the passage of 83-13, Los Osos still does not have a sewer or an adequate water management plan.
After the change in leadership, members and supporters of the previous CSD Board, wrote en mass to the Regional Water Board, asking them to punish our town; to punish us swiftly, forcefully and individually. The Water Board acted on this request on January 27th of this year by issuing Cease and Desist Orders to all of us. Whether by coincidence or intent, within a week of the Water Board’s actions, Taxpayers’ Watch began collecting signatures to dissolve the CSD. This group is founded and financed by the same people who pleaded for you and I to be punished.
Where We Are Now
Our CSD is working to address all the water needs in Los Osos. The “Sewer Plan” the CSD is embarking on, addresses sea water intrusion in our lower aquifer as well as the nitrate and high groundwater problems of our upper aquifer. This CSD is utilizing consulting engineers to determine the best solutions, appropriate location, and cost effective methods for addressing wastewater and managing water resources for the future. This is not about a specific location.
The Regional Water Board believes our town does not want a sewer. They believe the current CSD Board is simply trying to delay the issue. They believe, as our neighbors have claimed, that we need to be severely punished as individuals and as a community. They believe what people from this town have told them. They believe they are doing what is right.
We need to show the town does want a sewer. We need to ensure the current CSD is working diligently towards a new sewer. We need to demonstrate severe punishment is counter productive. We need to explain a moderate point of view. We need them to do what is right.
What You Can Do
First: Get Off The Bench. Many of us have been sitting on the sidelines. Right or wrong, the water board has placed us on the front lines in this issue. While we have been “cursed” with this task, we can turn it into a blessing for our community. We have now been given a voice above others in our town simply because our issue now is everyone’s issue eventually. We need to use this voice to bring our town together and to move this issue forward.
Second, Educate Yourself. Our voice will be most effective if we are able to have a solid understanding of the situation and come to a consensus amongst ourselves. Understand the water issues within the community. Some sources of information available on-line are:
General over view information including the Cease & Desist Order and a search engine for water documents: http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/centralcoast
Specific information regarding the following subjects:
Sea Water Intrusion: http://losososcsd.org/pdf/SWIntrusionFinalGrant.pdf
Basin Plan/ Water Management: http://losososcsd.org/pdf/Julydraft.pdf
LOCSD Waste water plan: http://losososcsd.org/wwp/index.html
Water Board’s Water Quality Enforcement Policy: http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/plnspols/docs/wqep.doc
California Water Code: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/calawquery?codesection=wat&codebody=&hits=20
Third, Build Your Own Defense. We are all in this together, but we are all punished individually. All documentation for your defense must be submitted by April 5th at 5:00 to the Regional Water Board. While the hearing itself my not be a fair hearing, the evidence you submit or attempt to submit now is what you will have if this case goes before a judge. Fill out the Individual Defense form. And use the items that best suit your own personal situation to build a personal defense. We are here to help you, but you have to help carry your own load.
Fourth, Help Bring the Community Together. There is a portion of our community, on both sides, that will never come to an agreement. We need to work with those, on both sides, that can and will work to bring unity. There are good people that love our town on both sides of the issues. We need to bring them together and create a unified community. In the end, our best defense will comprise three items. A Sewer for the Prohibition Zone, a Septic Management Program for the entire town, and a Water Management Program that effectively addresses nitrates, sea water intrusion, conservation and the economic concerns of our citizens. We need to build bridges within our community, the CSD and the various government entities (RWQCB, SLO County, SWRB…) that have jurisdiction over our town.
To quote Benjamin Franklin:
“We must all hang together,
or assuredly we shall all hang separately.”