Calhoun’s Can(n)ons, the Bay News, Morro Bay, CA, for April 26, 06
Mother Calhoun Explains It All
Dear Regional Water Quality Control Board,
You will be entering a mine field with this upcoming April 28th Cease & Desist Order hearing, so Mother Calhoun hopes you’ll think hard about the advice she’s about to share with you:
GIGO. Garbage In, Garbage Out. Elected and appointed boards are utterly and critically dependent on their staff to give them correct information. Be warned. Most of what you’ve been told about Los Osos and the preconceived information you appear to have rattling around in your heads is just plain wrong. Los Osos is not “anti-sewer.” It’s anti -unaffordable ginormous sewer plant in the middle of town. Big difference.
Don Corleone was right. The Godfather knew it’s not personal, it’s business. When you or your staff slip out of neutral and start ramping up into nose-out-of-joint, steam-coming-out-of-the-ears, old-tapes-running-in-the-head mode, it’s stopped being business. Bruised egos, bad information, incompetent bungling, CYA scrambling, too-cozy-by-far collusion always results in really bad blowback. Ethically superior, scientifically sound regulatory agencies play a vital and much needed role in protecting the public. Run amok, badly informed, ego-driven, scientifically unsound, politically compromised, bungling regulators are worse than useless; they are a danger to the whole delicate system of checks and balance. Don’t go there.
Since most of you are from “out of town” and only breeze through for a few days at a time, it’s understandable that what you know about a region you are dealing with may be limited and therefore your dependence on the local “staff” is doubly critical. But you really have a responsibility to keep your eyes open. When it becomes clear to you that during an “under oath” factual presentation one of your key “scientific” staff members gave you out of date data, pay attention! If your staff isn’t up to speed, your decisions will also be embarrassingly, woefully out of date.
Beware of the Law of Unintended Consequences. If you’re contemplating some action, failure to think it through can result in disaster. For example, at the official CDO informational meeting, your key “Mr. Official Go-To Water Engineer Science Guy” stated that he was “unaware that Los Osos is in [water] overdraft.” Your staff is asking you to vote to remove from the Los Osos watershed some 36 million gallons of wasteWATER every year and your lead Science Guy is “unaware that Los Osos is in [water] overdraft?” This is not good. Bridge out, slow to 60.
Since everyone assumes this whole mess will end up in court, do you really want to give anyone a shot at revisiting Resolution 83-13, in court, under oath, under penalty of perjury? Can that resolution or your board and staff withstand the questions that surely will be raised by experts in best-use water management practices, sustainability, wastewater reuse, basin plan management, updated water studies and/or the newest septic/bioremediation methods?
And, finally, TV’s Dr. Phil is fond of asking squabbling couples if they’re “rights fighters,” – my way or the highway – and if their go-nowhere, solve-nothing rights fighting is “working for them.” Have the ACL’s and CDO’s moved a wastewater treatment plan one step closer to completion or not? You’re in the business of Water Quality, so please tell Mother Calhoun, How’s all this working for ya?
Months ago, Regional Water Board member Mr. Shallcross expressed a hope that one day Los Osos would come together and sit around and sing “Kumbaya.” Weirdly, against enormous odds and in spite of active attempts to target and financially harm them with the Regional Board’s pointless pumping scheme, the community and the CSD are actually moving ahead on a wastewater project. There may not be actual singing going on, but the results of the updated sewer project report are due to go before the community in about 17 weeks. If Mr. Shallcross bothers to listen carefully that day, he might actually be able to hear this town humming a few bars of his song.
In the meantime, there it is: The critical question that the RWQCB will answer on April 28th: Do you want to be a rock in the road, useful only for time-and-money-wasting delay, delay, delay? Or do you want a sustainable, water-smart, community supported wastewater project to get up and running as fast as possible? The community and the CSD is moving forward. So, what are you going to do? Block the road? Or move forward, too? The choice is yours alone to make.