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Thursday, May 11, 2006

Calhoun’s Cannons, The Bay News, Morro Bay, CA
for May 12.06

No, Thanks, I’ll just stab myself in the eyeballs for 12 hours instead

To be persuasive, we must be believable. To be believable, we must be credible. To be credible, we must be truthful.
Edward R. Murrow

If you want to understand how a scientifically challenged staff of a government agency planned to paralyze then destroy a whole community with a scientifically unsound, poorly planned scheme, and if you missed the actual hearings, then tune into Channel 20 for the 12 hour film entitled, “The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party Meets The Bataan Death March” aka “The CDO Trial of the Los Osos 45,” now being held-over by the Regional Water Quality Control Board.

You, too, can watch and wonder, as I did sitting in the audience, how in living hell they’re going to process and hear from 5,000 people at 15 minutes each, plus cross examination and questioning witnesses and you do the math in your head or on a little scrap of paper and it comes out a minimum of one hundred twenty five 10-hour days and you say, Sweet Jesus, didn’t RWQCB CEO Roger Briggs think about all this when he cooked up this insane scheme and realize he’s screwed up big time, especially when the Air Pollution Control Guy showed up to say, Nuh-huh, ya gotta do more research on all those diesel trucks, 82 pumps a day, 6 days a week, all going chugga-chugga, but then when he’s asked if he intends to continue processing not just the 45 but the whole town and his eyes squint down and he says Yes, thereby proving he is incapable of dealing with reality checks or informational feed-back loops, so you pray his Board will have enough sense to burst out laughing or jump up and cry THIS IS INSANE, STOP IT RIGHT NOW, WHO THOUGHT UP THE COCKAMAMIE SCHEME, ANYWAY, but they don’t, so they sit there hour after hour after hour, Prisoners of Folly.

Tune in to see the RWQCB’s own Mr. Staff Science Guy, whose lack of training on anything septic is cringe-makingly inadequate, whose grasp of the Los Osos water system makes it clear he thinks we’re all rolling around out here with pigs, like Moonbeam McShine, swilling down nitrate-laden drinking water that violates state standards, (it doesn’t, we aren’t), then watch in amazement when RWQCB’s CEO Roger Briggs is asked, under oath, if he has any direct empirical evidence (you know, like isotope tests) showing that the Los Osos 45 are actually polluting the waters of the State of California and he says, no, no actual, empirical evidence, he’s just acting on “presumption” and “common knowledge,” like in the old days when it was “common knowledge” that witches soured milk in barns so it would make sense to spend $200 million to string a witch-catching net all over a town, until Dr. Wickham, B.S. M.S. Ph.D, owner of ABG Wastewater Solution, the outfit that’s installed the Pirana System of bio-remediation at the firehouse, gets up there and blam-blam-blam, the Board and audience gets a non-stop detailed lecture on all things septic, including Dr. Wickham’s observation that pumping tanks 6 times a year will end up destroying the mature biological colonies that make the system work properly, that pumping that frequently will make discharges worse, will have no appreciable effect on the groundwater, will lead to leach field failures all over town within two years, and when asked if there were a safer plan than pumping, replied, Yes, NOT pumping.

And then a member of the RWQC Prosecution Staff asks, Are there any cost-comparable onsite systems that could be used to achieve a similar nitrate load reduction that pumping was supposed to achieve and he cheerfully replied, Oh, yes, many, and I had to ask myself, Why is that question being asked NOW?

Is it possible the RWQCB staff never asked and answered that question BEFORE terrorizing this town, before wasting gazillions of hours of taxpayer’s time and money, before wasting their Board’s time (twelve hours so far, ten years to go), and instead just ran with the stupidest, most destructive, most scientifically unsound, indefensible cockamamie scheme that popped off the top of their Mad Hatter heads?

The answer to that question is why you need to watch the proceedings. Pay attention, Los Osos, you are being played for fools by a dangerous, out-of-control, incompetent, ill-prepared regulatory staff playing at personal politics instead of acting on sound science and prudent public policy.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Is this a repeat of an earlier blog?

Shark Inlet said...

I think that Ann may have cut-n-paste from the wrong file. It certainly seems exactly like stuff she's recently put up.

Mike Green said...

No, I think that she posted the article here first and then liked it so much she tweeked it and sent it to the paper. We were treated to , shall we say, a preview.
On the other hand, she may have been looking for a quick vacation from writing when faced with a deadline.
Just kidding Ann, I loved the article both times!

Anonymous said...

Uh, gee, it's her blog......

All the rest of us are guests, kibbitzers and/or lurkers. Politics and emotions aside Ann provides the forum. And the fuel. Whether you agree or disagree with her views she generally posts something which inspires engagement and brings you back. Again and again. Which is the true beauty of the blog. There is a responsibility to feed the fire which differs significantly from standing back and launching rejoinders. Thank you Ann, you deserve an occasional breather while still stirring the coals.

Churadogs said...

Anon Sez:"Uh, gee, it's her blog......

All the rest of us are guests, kibbitzers and/or lurkers. Politics and emotions aside Ann provides the forum. And the fuel. Whether you agree or disagree with her views she generally posts something which inspires engagement and brings you back. Again and again. Which is the true beauty of the blog. There is a responsibility to feed the fire which differs significantly from standing back and launching rejoinders. Thank you Ann, you deserve an occasional breather while still stirring the coals."

Inlet, once again you're not reading carefully, Mike, you're close,but no cigar.

Blogs are daily things, newspaper colums, in my case, are 2 x mo. I have open blogged something (unlimited space, timeleness, etc.) then re-written the same idea for the paper, for those who don't have access to a computer.

Anon, has it right. Greg started this blogsite as a sort of country store where folks could gather round the old cracker barrel and blather.

Shark Inlet said...

Ann,

Maybe you didn't get my attempt at humor.

In any case, if there are substantial differences between this blog entry and the earlier comments you made, there were not apparent.

If you would like to tell us what those huge differences are or what the new stuff is we can be disuaded from the impression that you're just repeating yourself thesedays ... much like Ron has done off and on for the last seven months at least.

Dogpatch Refugee said...

The one note signal jammer complaining about Ann & Ron becoming repetitive?
Hypocrite spin meter sez: 6500rpm

Shark Inlet said...

Dogpatch ... I am only repetitive because you and Ann and Ron and other flacks for Lisa and Julie have never addressed many of the cost issues I've brought up.

Maybe if you were to address my question for once ...

Hell, when Ron asked me a question point blank, at least I attempted an answer. Sure, he didn't like my answer, but I was at least willing to try. How about you?

Churadogs said...

Inlet sez:"Dogpatch ... I am only repetitive because you and Ann and Ron and other flacks for Lisa and Julie have never addressed many of the cost issues I've brought up."

There is no point to addressing "cost issues" since the figures you use are a moving target and, worse yet, the original $205 figure you cling to like a holy mantra was NEVER "real," but was merely a guestimate at a starting bottom MINIMUM that somehow became the new holy grail, something that mutated into a "real" monthly cost.

Rather than dance on pin heads, I'm waiting for the Ripley report and the "independent" analysis of the numbers he comes up with and then I'll have some questions to ask that may result in some answers, like, Does the proposed project require importing state water? If so, what's the cost of that likely to be? Ditto for long term O,M & R costs. And so forth.

Shark Inlet said...

Okay, Ann...

The $205 per month was not set in stone and locked in place ... it was an estimate, much like the number Ripley will give us. To suggest it was worthless is simply silly. That bulk of that figure was based on the amount borrowed to put in the sewer and WWTF and on the interest rate and term of the loan. The bulk of those costs (at least 70% or so) were known. It was ONLY O&M that are disputed by you. Those costs are small by comparrison to the impact of inflation due to delay.


To argue that there is no point discussing the costs is silly. Suppose that the best we can do now (with a "cheaper" Ripley plant) is $330 per month per household. Are you seriously asking us to believe that somewhere there were $125/month of "hidden" O&M costs?

Maybe you are a good writer. On the logic skills and numbers, you seem to be ... um ... challenged.

However, I remain hopeful. People with a real desire to learn are typically able to pull it off. I would suggest that you put in some study hours and figure out the things that now you say are just way too confusing and scary.

Honestly, this discussion is all about money versus location. There is a subtext of wanting government to be honest and responsive to the citizens. There is furthermore a long history. Even so, this is all about money versus location. You've been advocating a change in location for a long time.

Let me ask you yet again ... whatever TriW would have cost us, would you think it worthwhile to pay more to have an out of town plant? If your answer is no, you shouldn't have supported the recall. If your answer is yes, you should at least be able to tell us how much more it would be worth to you. This is like buying apples during apple season at the Farmer's Market. How much more would you be willing to pay for organic? Whether the non-organic costs 0.75/pound or 2.00/pound, you should be able to tell us how much of a premium you would be willing to pay to get the better product.

PublicWorks said...

Actually Shark, Ann is advocating Septic Management as an 'interim' solution. Ann has never endorsed a permanent centrallized solution, nor do I suspect she ever will.

She has continued to only support studies, not a project. That's why all the spreadsheets in the world are irrelevant to her or many people.

You have to realize, there is a subtlety to the Septic Management requests. It is a desire to do Septic Management not only interim but to imbed it as a long-term solution.

Why? Because it would be cheaper - it's that simple. It has nothing to do with location.

It's success, of course, depends on the CCRWQCB eventually rescinding the discharge prohibition (or being forced to). If you read between the lines of just about every action, that is actually what is going on here.

Because of the discharge prohibition, though, it becomes necessary to 'pursue' or appear to 'pursue' a treatment system. So the treatment system becomes a fallback plan if Septic Maintainance doesn't fly.

It is all about the money.

On one hand, there is 50.1% of residents who have a desire/will to avoid $205/month or more at any cost (at the risk of paying $300 or more). It includes both anti-sewer and pro-sewer advocates, although the pro-sewer advocates in that camp seem to disdain any attempt to put a realistic financial value to anything except the old project.

On the other hand, there is a desire/will of 49.9% of residents to not fight the state to protect equity and minimize cost increases.

For the most part, the emotions and actions for either 'side' are based on Washingtons, not science or not location.

This is not about a division about a sewer, it is a division about whether or not to fight the State of California.

Sewertoons said...

Anyone out there got any stats on win/loss in fighting the state? And the costs of doing so?

Sewertoons said...

So then things being where they are, Tri-W, the hated Tri-W, might well be cheaper than the out of town location!

But the in-town component of this is such a hot button, I don't think Washingtons really matter to many people any more.

Moving it might have started out as a delay for the "we don't need no stinkin' sewer" people, and "in-town horribleness" was the reason given to the cause to hide the real intent of delay. I think the "in town horriblness" has grown legs of its own (no matter how erroneous) and have many convinced that an in-town location just won't do no matter what the cost.

I see septic management as an PC and Eco-attempt to recover from some of the mistakes the CSD has made in front of the water board. And PW, you are right, it is really done in the hopes of pulling off a substitution for the real thing.

Churadogs said...

Publicworks sez: "Actually Shark, Ann is advocating Septic Management as an 'interim' solution. Ann has never endorsed a permanent centrallized solution, nor do I suspect she ever will."

Right and Wrong again. Septic management and some sort of Pirana-type remidiation until a sewer can be built is what we need. Also, you're wrong on my not endorsing a permanent centralized solution: What I called for years ago was what the Coastal Commission requested: A (truthful) in-town/ out of town side by side comparison and then a vote by the community on which one they wanted to buy. If anybody had listened to me (which they didn't) and done that we wouldn't be in this train wreck. The voters would have had honest numbers and a chance to choose what they were going to spend the next eternity paying for.

Wierdly, Los Osos could have been a poster child for a solution involving a mixture of updated onsite and partial collection as a way to collectively reduce pollution to acceptable levels (there never will be 100% since even the sewer plant would be discharging 7 mgl of nitrates back into the basin). Sadly, I suspect those kinds of innovative solutions have been taken off the table by (one size fits all, it's the law) AB885, which is too bad because flexible laws and innovative (and improving) onsite technology may prove to be far better than the old 19th century pipes in the ground and onsite technology and small flows is what the federal EPA is encouraging communities to move towards now. Alas, with the present unscientific water boards and a rigid, mediocre, scientifically challenged bureaucratic mindset of, Oh Let's Just Keep Plodding Along The Old Path Because It's Easier, we'll keep lagging behind the rest of the world. too bad.

PublicWorks said...

Ann sez:

"What I called for years ago was what the Coastal Commission requested: A (truthful) in-town/ out of town side by side comparison and then a vote by the community on which one they wanted to buy. If anybody had listened to me (which they didn't) and done that we wouldn't be in this train wreck."

So there it is, if only someone had listened to a newspaper columnist, we'd be home free!

Very presumptuous and speculative, I thought Ann deplored speculation.

For all we know, a town vote on an out of town plant could have resulted in a whole 'nother type of train wreck.

It could have have resulted in earlier fines against the district, out-of-town litigation delays, earlier CDOs, an earlier loss of funding, and we might be sitting here today in a stalemate of a whole different kind, and maybe with no 'Piranna' to take data with.

Ann makes the assumption that a town vote on any site is beneficial. That campaign literature in 1998 sure showed a treatment site right smack dab in the middle of town with some stinky ponds.