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Friday, June 16, 2006

A Chat with Dr. Wickham

On Wednesday, June 7, there was an informal gathering of interested people on the lawn behind the Los Osos community center to listen to and ask questions of Dr. Wickham, who installed and is testing the onsite Pirana system at the firehouse. He was in town for more testing and sat down for a chat with whoever showed up. (The casual event was taped by several folks so may end up on one of the PEG channels.)

One of the most interesting things to me that Dr. Wickham said was this: Don’t confuse sewers with clean water. They’re not the same thing.

Sounds goofy, but on further reflection, it’s true. Sewers are installed so a town can grow, so you can pack more and more people into a smaller space. By collecting all their wastewater and taking it somewhere else to be treated, you can vastly increase density. And, as such, sewers are a vital part of helping communities grow in size – if they choose that route.

Clean water, on the other hand, is a separate issue. You can have sewers and “unclean” water (i.e. the Morro Bay outfall doesn’t discharge “clean” water by any stretch of the imagination, and the numerous headlines about sewage spills from traditional sewer collection systems point up the danger of “unclean” water going where it shouldn’t.) And depending on the “discharge” numbers allowed (7 mgl nitrates? 10 mgl nitrates?) it’s possible that a sewer plant’s collective “discharge” can end up less clean, for example, than “discharges” from a community using enhanced onsite systems at each house. So, there’s “clean water” and “sewers,” and they’re not necessarily one and the same.

The other issue that I brought up was the 2005 document, available online at the State Water Board, titled, “Role of Science and Engineering in Decision-Making Within The State and Regional Water Boards, Sept 2005,” prepared by William A. Vance, Ph.D. who was a consultant to the SWB. Rather gentle in its text, the list of 30 recommendations were really disturbing. The recommendations make clear that we now have regulatory agencies (Regional control boards) with the power to destroy whole communities but who often make decisions that have little or no science behind them.

One telling example, #1 and # 6: (1) “The state should foster, promote, fund and streamline a process to set up blue ribbon science panels that would provide advice and guidance to the Regional Boards on complex scientific issues . . .” and (6) “The regional boards do not have the resources to allow for peer-review of the technical merit of proposed scientific studies, or for the evaluation of the data or conclusions from such studies. . . .”

The Boards don’t have the resources to allow for peer review . . . .??? This is both alarming and sad.

As it pertains to Los Osos, anyone who attended (or watched) the ACL hearing or the CDO hearing will understand the glaring lack of “science” at work in what our Regional Board’s staff was doing and proposing. In addition, Resolution 83-13, written over 20 years ago, has never been updated to include new technologies that would give more workable options to solving the problem it claims to address – i.e. degradation of the upper aquifer with too many nitrates.

This is a serious lack. Suppose for example, you discovered a problem, went to the proper authorities and said, ”I can fix the problem with a scalpel, a toothpick, and some needle-nosed pliers”. And they replied, “Sorry. You can’t use those. All you can use is this big, clumsy, expensive rock.” A sane person would laugh out loud.

In the case of Los Osos, we’ve been forced to fix a problem that hasn’t really been identified (no nitrate studies done to pinpoint sources, one of the FIRST things a “scientist” would require – know what, where, how much, what kind, before trying to “fix” it, since the what or where may dictate the use of different tools.) and we’ve been forced to use a big, clumsy, expensive rock, i.e. a sewer that pretends to result in zero discharge by the year Whatever, even while being given a permit to discharge X amount of pollution by the very Board that’s dictating zero discharge.

In short, our Regional Board has confused a sewer with clean water. And the result is a gun to the head and one option only: Use the rock or die. It’s exactly the kind of unscientific scenario Dr. Vance’s paper points out must change if we aren’t all going to end up with costly, wasteful blunders all over the state.

It’s something I hope all parties who come to Assemblyman Blakeslee’s table for their “Breakthrough Proposal” confab, will seriously, seriously consider.

32 comments:

Sewertoons said...

Ann, how much would you be willing to spend to test the leachfield under every house in Los Osos? How long do you think it will take? Density studies show we are over the limit to be on septic.

Sewer plants, like step/steg, FAIL because they are not maintained. There are all sorts of newfangled gadgets to test pipe these days, FYI.

Anonymous said...

The point is that the water boards do not use science and only Wickham understands waste water treatment systems? Has not this come full circle to "Flush the Sewer"?

*PG-13 said...

Gadzooks, must everything be so quickly reduced to taking sides? Get a grip people!

Ann posts a fairly objective blog about sewers, clean water and science. I say fairly because she does use names (Dr. Whickham, RWQCB) which are loaded terms within the context of the Los Osos sewer. But she uses them without spin to draw attention to a basic failing in the operations of the RWQRB. Note, the document she cites was sourced and is published on the RWQCB website which flies under the banner of the California Environmental Protection Agency. The entire site is devoted to holding business, politics and other special interestes accountable to science. Well, that's the way its supposed to work anyway. Any fool knows otherwise. Still, that is the purpose of their existence so when their own studies identify failures and suggest ways to improve performance that is an appropriate source to cite when discussing the RWQCB.

anon > The point is that the water boards do not use science and only Wickham understands waste water treatment systems?

I don't see Ann suggesting Dr. Wickham is the only one to understand waste water and sewer science. The point is it is his career, he is an engineer and a scientist (of sorts), and he does know more about it than the dweebs sitting on the board making the decisions. So he and people like him should at least be listened to.

On page 12 > In general, the Regional Boards acknowledge their limitations in scientific expertise
and make four proposals to address this issue. The first would have the state set up
“blue ribbon” science panels that would provide advice and guidance on complex
scientific issues. The second would create a science advisory panel that would
provide technical review, comment, and suggestions on Regional Board field studies
and interpretation of data (note: this is not intended as a substitute for formal peer
review of the scientific basis of a rule or regulation). The third would create a pool of
in-house experts that would be available to any of the Regional Boards on an asneeded
basis (i.e., for expertise not currently available, e.g., economic analysis, risk
assessment). The fourth would set up an expeditious mechanism for consulting or
contracting with experts in other state, federal, or local agencies on highly technical
issues or projects. The commonality of these recommendations is creating a means
or mechanism that will enable the Regional Boards to obtain scientific advice and
recommendations from technical experts not readily accessible today. It is
recommended that the water boards evaluate the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of
hiring versus contracting for scientific expertise and advice under one or more of these
four proposals. It is recognized that the issues confronting the water boards change
over time. Therefore, an analysis of current needs versus long-term needs will be
necessary to make decisions regarding potential long-term investments in technical
expertise and infrastructure.


The report notes four mechanisms to address the known and admitted scientific failings of the RWQCB. Dr. Wickham and his expertise (and/or an equivlent)could be - I suggest should be - included in at least one of these mechanisms. For Ann to cite Dr. Wickham is therefore well within the recommended guidelines of the report and is not flagrant Move-It or Flush-the-Sewer flag waving. Such input is not only appropriate but beneficial to the process. I daresay we could use a lot more scientific analysis and a lot less spinning, arguing, and attacking. Yes, science can be spun - ya don't have to look far to see examples of that. But it is generally less spinnable than anything else. And good science is less spinnable than bad science. And yes, 9 out of 10 scientists can tell the difference.

sewertoons > Ann, how much would you be willing to spend to test the leachfield under every house in Los Osos? How long do you think it will take?


Case in point. Every house in Los Osos doesn't have to be tested. The more the better. And the more precise the measurements the better. But any set of data points is more valuable than no data points. With very few or no data points it isn't bad science to infer through induction that the Los Osos septics are polluting the bay. But that gives no means by which to evaluate the value of possible solutions. ANY additional pollution data can be of value here. 30 years of trackable data samples would be great. Lacking that, two weeks of core analysis might still be valuable. This is where experts are helpful. For you or me or the WQCB to say we don't need no stinkin' data in order to make a good decision is simply dumb.

Sewertoons > Density studies show we are over the limit to be on septic.

At face value I think we all tend to agree with you. That does make sense using yesterday's thinking and yesterday's technology. Centralized sewers is so old school it must be the truth, right? But there are a number of new sewer paradigms which suggest just cuz our grand-daddy's did it doesn't mean its still the best way to do it. There are new sewer models to consider and interestingly Los Osos is in a very unique situation to consider them. Why not?

> Sewer plants, like step/steg, FAIL because they are not maintained. There are all sorts of newfangled gadgets to test pipe these days, FYI.

Yes, that is one reason they fail. But any system, by design, has fail points. The more complex the system the greater number of fail points. Distributed systems can fail more often with less impact than a centralized system that fails just once. And newfangled gadgets can used to implement distributed systems just as much as they can be used to protect old systems. Indeed, I suggest newfangled gadgetry tends to work best with new fangled systems.

I grow weary. I think I'm gonna read the rest of Role of Science and Engineering
in Decision-Making Within the
State and Regional Water Boards for relaxation.

Anonymous said...

PG tells the reader not to take sides and not to spin yet makes staements like: "he (Wickham) does know more about it than the dweebs sitting on the board making the decisions."

This is just a variation of spin, implying that the "dweebs" have no expertise or PHDs beside their names either and can not make sound determinations based on all the evidence presented.

They do not work in a vacuum! There is science presented by the board staff and likely will be much more now that they have heard Wickham's testimony.

No spin would be to let the the board hear all sides, view all evidence, and present their findings.

As to new or old technologies, the bottom line will be determined by level of water treatment, sustainability, and of course cost.

If that means pirana, or step/steg, or traditional, then so be it.

Stop "Spinning", directly or indirectly!

PublicWorks said...

PG,

The IRS publishes documents that make the IRS sound like they want to help you, if you have a problem.

Is there a single government agency that doesn't publish documents, that in theory, make sense, but are contradicted by their bureaucratic operation?

Science is great to solve science problems.

The sewer issue is not a science problem or 'science fair'.

Upper aquifer water has been polluted, (otherwise wells would not be shut down) and it correlates with increased population on lots using antiquated and undermaintained septic systems.

The 'sewer issue' is a scientifico-politico-legal-financico-technico problem. To properly characterize the issue might take 4 years of tests, plus 4 years to design, plus 3 years to construct. Is that delay worth the extra science? Many people would say yes simply because it means 10 years for them to finally pay to fix it, with the hope they really won't have to fix anything.

Do we 'know' that more science will save us $30 million? No. Yet some people declare it will. Do we know not doing more science might result in us spending $30 million too much now? No. That's life.

So the question, or choice, becomes - how do we pick the science. The CSD picked Ripley over Wickham to guide them. And already, the everlasting Los Osos debate is re-emerging since both are involved (more future tug-of-wars perhaps??)

It is not necessarily prudent to always go down the 'more science' path. I'm not saying it's not a good idea, just saying it really is not clear how much science is always need to accomplish something.

For Ann to paint the RWQCB as she's done ignores a basic truth. The RWQCB acted 20+ years ago in the face of a real problem -
Nitrates accumulating in the aquifer, with wells being discontinued for use. That IS the function of an agency, and the RWQCB to their credit, NOT the Los Osos community, brought the issue up to get resolved as they should have.

Wickham & Ripley: In essence, they are going down two paths that don't lead to the same solution. Ripley, is 'assuming' pollution, and going directly towards a solution (hey, just like the old board). Wickham is arguing for more data. Remember, it is in Wickham's interest to keep collecting data, and use Wickham widgets until 'enough' data is found. Just like it is Ripley's interest to keep designing, until a 'sewer' is found. Neither one is 'bad', they're just doing what they're good at.

So which is the best path to follow, and what if they offer different conclusions? What if Wickham says you don't need a Ripley sewer? What if Ripley says a Wickham plan never ends and is an open-ended solution? What if Ripley & Wickham have a combined solution?

The point is there are choices always to be made that need to consider that science may or may not provide the answer, and asking for more science is a risk itself.

We send satellites to Pluto, not because we want to build a 7-11 there, but because we want a science project.

Just remember, by advocating more science, you may find yourselves two-three years down the road advocating ...... more science. Hence the expression, shoot the engineer, and just build the damn thing.

Anonymous said...

Years ago, I saw a man at the county fair who had produced a device that, when put in a car’s gas tank, would increase gas mileage by 15%. (It had something to do with ions). He found ready buyers. People wanted to believe that Detroit and the oil companies had conspired to keep these devices from the public.

Making claims about scientific breakthroughs and surrounding it with technological talk isn't science. It is interesting that, in the last decade, Dr. Wickham has produced technological achievements in multiple fields without conventional grounding in the associated sciences.

Dr. Wickham has been previously faulted for claiming "ecology" as his specialization. While he has a doctorate from Berkeley (no small achievement) it isn't in ecology. He was trained in zoology. Prior to his ventures into the field of wastewater management he managed the lobster aquaculture project at the UC Berkeley Bodega Marine Laboratory.

A few years back he was offering expert opinion in a case involving timber harvesting. He claimed his Ph.D was in "ecology" and this was challenged. He backed down when put under oath.

" he [Wickham] told the members of the review team that he had a Ph.D. in ecology. In fact, he later submitted a declaration (under penalty of perjury) stating that his Ph.D. was in zoology, not ecology, and that he specialized in marine ecosystems."

http://ceres.ca.gov/ceqa/cases/1997/vanalstyne.html

After leaving the lobster project, Dr. Wickam's first venture into septic tank innovation targeted air quality issues and global warming and not nitrates. In 1999 He wrote an article in Earth Island Journal describing how planting trees in community leech fields could provide renewable resources to the world and clean up the air of the planet.

He predicts what would happen with the adoption of his proposal.

"The US, which produces 25 percent of the world's CO2, could reduce its CO2 emissions by 15 percent. Wastewater plantations on a worldwide basis have the potential to offset current CO2 emissions entirely."

http://www.earthisland.org/eijournal/winter99/fe_winter99sewage.html

He then shifted to solving the problem of remediating soils contaminated with petroleum. In 1998, he was described as a co-owner of International Organic Solutions (IOS).Industrial Wastewater Solutions Corp was later created as a spin-off from IOS(2002). It is the manufacturer of the microbial product IOS-500. This product is said to reduce petroleum contaminants in soil. Under treatment with IOS-500 TPH concentrations were reported to decrease from 80,000 to 452 ppm within 60 days. The tests were done in Mexico and don't seem to have been independently verified.

Several years ago Dr. Wickham separated from IWS to become a partner-inventor at Pirana ABG. Meanwhile, IOS-500 is still being offered by Wastewater Solutions. But in its current incarnation the formulation has been found effective in attacking nitrates and restoring the functioning of clogged septic tank leech fields. Wastewater Solutions produces its own product that sounds similar to the Pirana except that the agitator/dispenser dropped into the tank is called the "White Knight".

http://www.ahs.dep.state.pa.us/Clearinghouse/Content/OpenAreaSearch.asp?search=Waste%20Waterhttp

Dr. Wickham's earlier breakthrough innovations in setting things right with global warming and in cleaning up petroleum spills are astonishing. The Pirana's alleged powers are a wonder too. Depending how you look at it Dr. Wickham's earlier exploits either describe a continuous upwelling of technological breakthroughs or an unbroken pattern of overstatement.

It would be delightful if Los Osos could resolve its problems with a device that, when dropped in an ailing septic tank, would zero out nitrates. It could be that the device to improve gas mileage worked too. But it would seem prudent that, in some future talk with Dr. Wickham, that he be questioned about his progress in using leechfield tree plantings to clean up the world’s greenhouse gasses or his advancements in cleaning up petroleum contamination. His successes in these previous ventures would be an indication of his successes here.

Sewertoons said...

Thank you Anonymous, for your thorough and incredibly interesting research.

Doesn't someone like Wyckham just figure to be part of this CSD's solution to waste? More "pie in the sky." (Or "goop in the poop" in Wyckham's case...)

Hope you are sending all of this to the RWQCB. Sure bet they would enjoy the read!

PublicWorks said...

Interesting comments anonomous;

Einstein was a drop-out.

Inventors are often 'non-scientists' as invention involves almost as much persistance and faith as it does science.

Whatever happened to those two Univerity of Utah 'scientists' that discovered 'nuclear fusion' 15 or so years ago, only to have the thermometer or something not quite calibrated?

Sewertoons said...

And what were they trying to sell?

Churadogs said...

One comment Dr. Wickham made at the CDO hearing was this: You could spend $200 million on a sewer and STILL end up with high nitrates in the water. (due to the possibility of natural nitrates in the soil, airborne nitrous oxides being dumped by the power plant to get into the soil via rain, etc. It was an interesting concept because the RWQCB presumably wants a sewer put in to "fix" the nitrate problem. And in its simplified form, the concept of Oh, if we build a sewer, that'll "fix" the problem. But the RWQCB never did any source-point testing or tests to identify if there were different types and sources of the nitrates. Interestingly, the only study of its kind done to that date, was the County sponsored leach-field study of denitrification in the soil. Much to their surprise, that found out that, yes, denitrification was actually taking place. (Apparently, that study was the first time, ever, anyone had taken a look at that. Which is really astonishing to me.) So, it's entirely possible that Dr. Wickham may be right: We could build a gazillion dollar sewer and, Surprise! still be left with high nitrates. If that happens, what then?

Churadogs said...

Ooops, forgot. If I understood Dr. Wickham's comments at the "chat" correctly, his suggested study for the various kinds of nitrates and their probable sources could be done by any competent University group in a relatively short period of time for abour $250,000 (possbily offset by a research grant.) Depending on how they were set up, you could ened up with an interesting overall composit "snapshot" of what was coming from where. Would that information help with the "right solution?" I don't know. I've always found in real life, that it helps to know exactly what the problem is before trying to "fix" it.

PublicWorks said...

Well, maybe you should ask Ripley where the source of the Nitrates is coming from.

Come to think of it, maybe the Morro Bay/Cayucus plant upgrade should be put on hold for 4 more years of study to know EXACTLY whether sea otters are affected by pollution.

Shark Inlet said...

Ann,

Glad you brought up Wickham's comments from the recent RWQCB CDO hearing. Yes, he claimed that the nitrates in the aquifer might be high naturally. However, while there is the theoretical possibility of this occuring, Wickham either didn't know about time trend in the nitrate numbers or he pretended not to know. He claimed that he had only seen data from one time period. That is where things fell apart in my mind.

Young asked him what else, besides septics, could explain the increaing nitrates over time. He stammered a bit but essentially was unwilling to admit that the chief reason that nitrates increase in aquifers is from human pee. I can see that he would be reluctant to fess up because his boss (the LOCSD board) would be upset with him, but if he really was a scientist he would have answered the question or indicated he isn't an expert in that area.

So, Ann ... do you think it more likley that Los Osos is like nearly all other areas in the World with high and increasing nitrates in the groundwater or do you believe that Los Osos is so unique that reducing the nitrate input to the system won't lower the levels in the system?

The problem here is that you and Wickham and a few other people say "we don't know for sure" but all the real experts in the area know that septic systems is the only explanation for the phenomena that makes any sense at all. If you are so gung ho to get the science done, why weren't you pushing for the LOCSD to study the situation with Rhodium dye back in October?

Churadogs said...

Inlet, you're jumping to conclusions. No "real" experts "KNOW that septic systems is the only explanation for the phenomena that makes any sense at all." Real "experts" wouldn't and couldn't make that statement without solid scientific studies to back it up. And I suspect that the reason why Wickham said he couldn't say for certain where other nitrates are coming from wasn't becasue he was afraid of offending his bosses, the CSD, it's more likely that, being a "scientist," he DID NOT KNOW BECAUSE HE DIDN'T DO THE STUDIES NECESSARY OR HADN'T BEEN ASKED TO REVIEW WHATEVER STUDIES HAD BEEN DONE (to my knowledge, source point studies have never been done and studies identifying the different types of nitrates also haven't been done either). So,I have to presume that, unlike your "experts," Wickham wasn't prepared to jump to conclusions minus any studies. And, if you recall, he noted possible other sources and said it would be a relatively easy thing to find out, that he was sure some grant would get some graduate students out here to do the studies, shouldn't take long -- an observation he also made during the "lawn chat" I was commenting on.

As for wondering why I wasn't pushing for this or that, you haven't been paying attention for Lo These Many Many Many years. I've been pushing from 1984 for, just to name a few,: Creation of a Septic Managment District, source point testing to determine IF there are other nitrate sources, then can they be included in the clean up, I supported the original lysometer tests the county ran years ago (I asked Tom Rhuer years and years ago, instead of squabbling over the source of the nitrates, why didn't the county just do a google search and look at all the studies of what happened under leach fields, only to be told, THERE ARE NO STUDIES, IT'S NEVER BEEN DONE BEFORE, which shocked me no end, I mean, all these engineers, writing all these textbooks that said, as fact, that NO denitrification takes place in the soil, all those graduating PhD's in search of PhD theses and nobody thought to look under a leachfield to find out what was actually going on ?????)(turns out the tests showed denitrification actually taking place, which surprised a whole lot of people, including the engineers who had been told otherwise in their textbooks, so everyone stood around and scratched their heads, as in, Well, duh, who'da thunk) or, cranking on that we needed to find out what was IN the upper aquifer BEFORE moving ahead with a project that relied on "blended" water, (more Duh) and so forth, endlessly. In short, you are clearly unaware of what I have been sqwaking about for years, not to mention my endless complaint of warning this community that there was a train wreck coming because the carts had been put before the horse. So, please . . .

An Anonymous Poster said:"Years ago, I saw a man at the county fair who had produced a device that, when put in a car’s gas tank, would increase gas mileage by 15%. (It had something to do with ions). He found ready buyers. People wanted to believe that Detroit and the oil companies had conspired to keep these devices from the public.

Making claims about scientific breakthroughs and surrounding it with technological talk isn't science. It is interesting that, in the last decade, Dr. Wickham has produced technological achievements in multiple fields without conventional grounding in the associated sciences. "

Did you mean these opening paragraphs to be a form of sly character assissination by conflation? That is, implying, without actually backing up any claims, that Dr. Wickham is some sort of "county fair fraud?"

What made what followed your first two paragraphs so interesting is a question that kept running through my mind: My original blog entry mentions Wickham, not as some sort of Savior or Miracle-working Guru, or Mr. Magic Man, bu simply as the man "who installed and is testing the onsite Pirana system at the firehouse." Installed and is testing . . . That's all. Yet this Anonymous Poster, clearly spent a lot of time researching Wickham, after opening with the memory of a phony pitchman at a county fair, and throughout his posting, I kept getting the strong implication that our Anonymous Poster wanted the reader to come away with the sly implication that what Wickham's done should be viewed through the prism of . . . snake oil, and snake oil at a county fair.

Hmmmm, interesting posting. Espcially since the ONLY issue I raised in my original post, was Dr. Wickham observation that people shouldn't confuse sewers with clean water.

I have to wonder what about that statemnet caused our Anonymous Poster to go to such interesting and conflationary lengths and conclude by noting, "Depending how you look at it Dr. Wickham's earlier exploits either describe a continuous upwelling of technological breakthroughs or an unbroken pattern of overstatement."

Ah, do I smell a little sly character assassination going on here? If so, why? Is Dr. Wickham perceieved by our Anonymous Poster as some sort of threat that must be Swift Boated before it's too late? Hmmmmm. . . interesting.

Anonymous said...

Churadog goes back in time to 1984 and then in the next sentence mentions Rhuer and why not just Google for the research about denitrification studies. "Googling" was not really viable until 1999-2000 (incorporated Sept 1998). In 1984 or so, Rhuer did not know about any studies; is it safe to conclude that there were none because one man did not know of any?

I've heard that the common knowledge 1n 1998, when the CSD creation process was happening, about thirty feet of sand will totally denitrafy nitates. I can not quote a source but neither you nor Wickham have pointed to source documents supporting statements like; "THERE ARE NO STUDIES, IT'S NEVER BEEN DONE BEFORE".

As for Wickham and Ripley for that matter, they are selling their products by selling them selves to an audience that wants to desperately believe that conventional solutions are not necessary. They have these widgets and "nitrohammers" that will do the job.

Nothing is truely known about these two men besides their sales pitches. They might be great husbands, fathers, community leaders, etc. but when it comes to their business, they are salesmen foremost.

Salespeople can not seem to help themselves, they color their words and presentations to sell. Period!


I believe in the old axioms: "If it sounds too good to be true, it is not true" OR "Believe nothing of what you hear and only half of what you see".

Sorry Churadog, I see snake oil!

Shark Inlet said...

So Ann,

Earlier in our conversation you tried to pull a trump card that you went to art school and were a "real artist" and that you knew about art and that my explanation was simply wrong.

Do you want to compare our credentials in science? Do you really?

Simply put, your explation is ... um ... weak at best. If there is a standard theory that makes sense to explain phenomena (like high septic tank density and close proximity to groundwater goes with high nitrate levels in the groundwater) and other common explanations (such as agricultural impacts or burried vegetation) don't explain the phenomena, to suggest we don't know what is going on is pathetic. Perhaps if you were to offer up an alternative explanation that matched the the facts it would be less laughable, but in this case you are asking us to believe you that the standard explation, the one that makes sense, is faulty and that there is some other explanation out there that no one has yet discovered that would perfectly explain the high and increasing nitrates without using the words human and septic and urine.

The problem with Wickham isn't that he didn't read the right studies but that he simply refused to state the obvious, that in a typical situation like Los Osos it would be the septic systems that were the problem.

Maybe we should cut you a bit of slack on this one and let you start over.

Considering that too many septic systems/acre and that septic systems close to groundwater are typically associated with high nitrate levels, why do you want us to believe in this case that they aren't part of the problem?

I suspect it is only because it would justify further delay and because it would make the former board look hasty for their choice to follow the time schedule order of the RWQCB.

Churadogs said...

Inlet sez :"Considering that too many septic systems/acre and that septic systems close to groundwater are typically associated with high nitrate levels, why do you want us to believe in this case that they aren't part of the problem?"

You've missed Wickham's point: Nobody I know, including myself, has ever, ever said septics aren't part of the problem. What Wickham said at the CDO hearing is there may be other sources of nitrates that nobody's looked at and you could build a 200 million dollar sewer and STILL have high nitrates.

Inlet also sez:"The problem with Wickham isn't that he didn't read the right studies but that he simply refused to state the obvious, that in a typical situation like Los Osos it would be the septic systems that were the problem."

Would you consider a "scientist" a "good scientist" if he stated AS FACT something he did not have first hand knowledge of or had researched the available data on and could draw sound conclusions on the research and instead simply stated AS FACT what was just "common knowledge" or "perceived wisdom" or "everybody knows." or "common sense."

At the CDO hearing Wickham made the point that there may well be other sources of nitrates besides septics tanks. He also made the point that we don't know FOR A FACT if that's so BECAUSE WE HAVN'T LOOKED.

Inlet again:"I suspect it is only because it would justify further delay and because it would make the former board look hasty for their choice to follow the time schedule order of the RWQCB."

If you remember, Bruce Buel testified, under oath, four times that the Time Schedule Order was "Unreasonable." Where the old board failed is they did not unify and confront that TSO as "unreasonable." (nobody in their right mind ever felt that you can design, build a complete a sewer system in an already existing town in, what, 5 years? That's insane and lead directly to this trainwreck. There were critical points along the way where the old board failed to pause for much needed public confirmation: i.e. the CC's side-by-side comparison study that should have been done and put to a community vote, then the Prop 218 vote after the vast increase in the SRF loan, etc. All fatal mistakes linked to that "unreasonable" TSO)


Anononymous (one of them, we have so many) sez"Rhuer did not know about any studies; is it safe to conclude that there were none because one man did not know of any?"

You'll have to go ask Rhuer. That's what he told me, there weren't any, and he looked. (you're right about google, but at the time there were and still are, ways of searching the published reports -- the annual lists of reviews of periodical literature,University-wide published thesis, etc. technical report indexes, & etc.)

Anon also sez," I've heard that the common knowledge 1n 1998, when the CSD creation process was happening, about thirty feet of sand will totally denitrafy nitates. I can not quote a source but neither you nor Wickham have pointed to source documents supporting statements like; "THERE ARE NO STUDIES, IT'S NEVER BEEN DONE BEFORE".

The reference here was to actual studies done under leach fields. Perceived wisdom at the time, according to the county folks I talked to, was denitrification needs X# of feet and doesn't take place in standing water & etc. The county studies showed denitrification taking place in waaaaay less than 30' and actually taking place in standing ground water, which, as I remarked, astonished a lot of people at the time. The problem was not enough was taking place (this was before such enhanced onsite sytems as Wickham's and others had been invented or were in use)

When the "official" test results come back on Wickham's firehouse unit, it will be interesting to see what his numbers turn out to be.Will they once again challenge perceived wisdom and common sense?

Anon also sez:" As for Wickham and Ripley for that matter, they are selling their products by selling them selves to an audience that wants to desperately believe that conventional solutions are not necessary. They have these widgets and "nitrohammers" that will do the job."

Would you consider Watson Montgomery Harza reps as people "selling their products" to an audience that wants be convinced that ONLY their products will do the job? We don't know anything about WMH's reps. They, too, may be wonderful fathers, husbands, citizens. So why aren't they also snake oil salesmen?

PublicWorks said...

Ann sez,

"The county studies showed denitrification taking place in waaaaay less than 30' and actually taking place in standing ground water, which, as I remarked, astonished a lot of people at the time."

That would definitely be an interesting study to review. Other than going thru a County bureaucratic maze, wondering where one can get that study.

Denitrifcation in standing groundwater - how the study/test was/were constructed is important, so that dillution is taken into account. Would need to see the study to see if that conclusion is really 'scientific'.

Shark Inlet said...

Ann,

I didn't miss your point. Your point was simply wrong. You know darn well that the nitrate levels in the eastern portion of our aquifer are low enough to be acceptable for drinking water. If one were to eliminate the leachfield problem, the nitrate levels in our entire aquifer would be lower. As it is, you've supported a board who has chosen to stop construction on the cheapest (at this point in time) solution to the nitrate problem. Heck, weren't you the one who, a few months back, were telling us that the nitrate levels were just a little too high, certainly not so high that we should feel any need to act quickly. If that was your position then, your position now cannot be that the nitrate levels are so darn high now that even with eliminating the primary source of nitrates we'll still have nitrate levels too high.

It seems like some days you take one side of an issue and other days you choose the other side. The only reliable method of determining what Ann will say is that it will agree with whatever Lisa says.

As to your point that the TSO is unreasonable. Even if Bruce believes the TSO is unreasonable doesn't mean that we aren't obliged to try to follow it. Do you think that people should be allowed to simply violate laws they don't agree with?

In this situation it is sort of like a child who has been told to clean her room by noon. Suppose further that the room is so messy that the room can be cleaned by noon but only with the child working for the next two hours without a break. Suppose that a few friends Al and Julie come over to play and the child spends a few minutes with each just to be polite but then excuses herself to finish cleaning her room. Should the father punish this child for being late? No. Should the child spend time on a formal appeal of the noon deadline? Hardly seems worth the time if she's working and almost finished. If, however, the child decides to pitch a fit at 12:15 and start throwing papers all around the room in frustration, what should the parent do? Mentioning the agreement to finish by noon or have the allowance lowered, the parent should lower the allowance.

You trumpet Bruce's opinion that the TSO was unreasonable. What is Bruce's opinion on the matter of whether stopping TriW was smart or not?

Sewertoons said...

Will Wyckham's testing under the firehouse leachfield be done for endocrine disruptors - or other nasty residues of modern life?

Churadogs said...

Publicworks sez:"That would definitely be an interesting study to review. Other than going thru a County bureaucratic maze, wondering where one can get that study."

If I'm not mistaken, that's # 27 & 28 on the "prosecution document list" for the CDOs. Percy Garcia headed up the team on that one, if memory serves. The waterboard doesn't have it on line, but I"m pretty sure they'll ahve it in a big box down at the office.

Inlet sez:"You trumpet Bruce's opinion that the TSO was unreasonable. What is Bruce's opinion on the matter of whether stopping TriW was smart or not?"

I "trumpet" nothing, I merely note that Buel 4 times -- under oath -- stated the TSO was unreasonable. As for your question, why don't you ask him yourself. So far as I know he's still working in the south county.


Inlet also sez:" The only reliable method of determining what Ann will say is that it will agree with whatever Lisa says."

I would like to think that you well know that that statement is purest horse pucky, but that assumption might underestimate what you know or don't know about what you think or do not think I say or write, which reminds me, Inlet ALSO said, "Do you want to compare our credentials in science? Do you really?"

Uh, sorry, Inlet. You have no credentials in science. You're an anonymous poster. Anonymooses have NO credentials or credibility or anything for that matter because they're . . . anonymous.

So, once again, the Dear & Gentle reader is warned: caveat lector, there's Annonymooses running loose in the hoose.

Shark Inlet said...

Ann,

Three things.

First, you know darn well that Buel thought that stopping the TriW project was unwise. Don't pretend that there is some doubt here.

Second, when you seem to agree with Lisa nearly all the time, why would using your opinion to predict hers or her opinion to predict yours be a poor idea? If you truly believe that this would be an unreliable method of predicting what position you will take on various issues, it would be more convincing if you were to point out the multitude of times you've disagreed with Lisa. Go for it.

Third, just because you don't know my scientific credentials doesn't mean I don't have any. I am a real person. If you mean to say that anonymous people shouldn't be trusted, you have a good point. On the other hand, like with "real life" degrees, people online can earn or destroy their credibility by what they write.

So, here's a novel question ... do you think that because you are not anonymous, your knowledge of science is far deeper than mine?

*PG-13 said...

< sigh > I think this blog is collecting almost as much digital crap as Los Osos has virtual crap. I hesitate to add to the load but ..... sometimes it does make ya feel better, no?

Anon > PG tells the reader not to take sides and not to spin yet makes staements like: "he (Wickham) does know more about it than the dweebs sitting on the board making the decisions." This is just a variation of spin, implying that the "dweebs" have no expertise or PHDs beside their names either and can not make sound determinations based on all the evidence presented.

OK, I admit the dweeb part was probably more inflammatory than it needed to be to get my point across. What I should have said is, 'I haven't seen any indication whatsoever that the RWQCB has expertise or is taking advantage of any outside expertise in their analysis of and response to the Los Osos pollution and water situation'. (I chose to abbreviate that to dweebs.) Note, RWQCB is supposed to address WATER and QUALITY as well as POLLUTION. Let's start with the CDO's. OK now, other than those who participated in the post-recall letter writing campaign to bring fire and brimstone down on Los Osos, anybody else who thinks the CDO's were based on sound scientific analysis and principles please raise your hand. Really? Hard to believe. Nevermind, there is nothing more we can discuss.

Yes, calling the board a bunch of dweebs was antagonistic. But it wasn't spin. Spin, in this usage, means to offer up a favourable comment on an otherwise unpleasant situation. It often implies a perspective, a stretching of the truth, or an out-and-out lie in order to cast something in better if not good light. My comment about the board was not spin. It was my direct judgement, clearly stated, about their operations based upon the science used in their decision making processes. I presented my rationale for how I came to this conclusion. There are more than enough questions in this affair to call into doubt the basis of their science.

PublicWorks > Science is great to solve science problems. The sewer issue is not a science problem or 'science fair'.... The 'sewer issue' is a scientifico-politico-legal-financico-technico problem. To properly characterize the issue might take 4 years of tests, plus 4 years to design, plus 3 years to construct. Is that delay worth the extra science?

Despite your earlier protestation I'm glad you did end up sneaking scientico into political-legal-financico-technico. Yes, the sewer issue is all those things. But when dealing with the water you drink - and, this being coastal California, the very lifeblood of a community - do you really want the politicos and the book-keepers driving final decisions? The Los Osos sewer is most certainly a financial issue. And a Political issue. All of these should have input and all must be involved in the process but all the political and financial sleight-of-hand won't purify polluted water. Only scientico with a little help from technico will do that. So please don't discount science so cavalierly.

PublicWorks > Just remember, by advocating more science, you may find yourselves two-three years down the road advocating ...... more science. Hence the expression, shoot the engineer, and just build the damn thing.

I don't think anybody is suggesting spending 4 years of testing to characterize the situation. In the absence of any data, or very little data, or even conflicting data - if data is the basis for an engineering solution you'd best have some meaningful data. I daresay if even half the money spent on lawyers over the last couple of years had been spent to dig and test a little earth we would be way ahead right now. Fact is, there is some time on the timeline in the county notes in response to Assemblyman Blakeslee’s “Breakthrough Proposal,” (the BBP) to do such testing. I can only presume and hope that the county will do this. Regarding, "Hence the expression, shoot the engineer, and just build the damn thing." Cute. And I've been on the working end of enough tools to fully appreciate the sentiment behind the expression. But, truth-be-told, when the job is finished I only stay around to use, ride or live in that which has been well engineered. If it really was built after shooting the engineer - and shortcuts taken that the engineer didn't sign off on - I want no part of it.

Anon > Years ago, I saw a man at the county fair who had produced a device that, when put in a car’s gas tank, would increase gas mileage by 15%. (It had something to do with ions). .....

I think Ann's already responded to that. Please note, there is snake oil, there is magic, there is religion, there is spin (see above), there is that-which-calls-itself-science but is in reality bad science, and there is science. Good science isn't necessarily the absolute or the end-all for all things but it is more often than not the best place to start. And when dealing with water purity and pollution it must be the first place to start.

Re: All the brou-ha-ha about Dr. Wickham. Who the *@&#! cares. He's just one man. The board should be drawing on the expertise of many men & women. Dr Wickham proffers an interesting option. But certainly not the only alternative. Yes, his claims and his device must be proven. Anybody who buys it without such proof and warranty should go to the fair and buy the ion-gas gizmo. What he may have said, or didn't say, in whichever meeting in front of whoever seems to have blown all out of proportion. Whether he spoke clearly and forthrightly or whether he limited his comments based on fact. Is that really the issue?

Re: nitrates and septic tanks. I've mentioned this in previous posts so I'll not belabor it here. I don't think anybody suggests that the septic tanks of Los Osos are the best solution and aren't part of the problem (other than those who might want to just draw this thing out for evern and ever). But lacking any data there is simply no way to resolve how much of the problem they are. And whether a spanking new super-expensive central sewer will make things measureably better. If we don't have the before picture we won't have a very clear after pic.

SharkInlet > Do you want to compare our credentials in science? Do you really?

Well, no, not really. And I think Ann's response regarding our personae in the blogsphere was fair. But if you really do want to compare ...... like Dr. Science, I too have a degree in science. In a field that should be closely related to this topic and it doesn't help a bit in this situation. IF anybody has expertise which can be used here they should be offering it to RWQCB - although I seriously doubt they would value it.

I think this is where I came in.

PublicWorks said...

PG says,

"do you really want the politicos and the book-keepers driving final decisions? "

It depends on who the politicians and book-keepers are. Los Osos does have and has had politicos and the book-keepers driving final decisions. Who do you think sits on the board? They are politicians - and that will always be the case. There's no getting around that.

Los Osos is currently debating whether to have the Los Osos politicians call the shots or let the County politicians call the shots. Barring a constitutional amendment to designate appointed scientists to run the government, that's how it will continue.

Furthermore, the irony to Ann's questions is that the current Los Osos politicians chose EXACTLY to pick Ripley over two other firms that proposed a more scientific-based approach to evaluating the problem and solutions. Go figure.

I'm not cavalier towards science - I'm just a skeptic because I know the pitfalls of progressive scienitific experiments and tests that do not necessarily provide a solution to a complex problem. In the academic world, one study grant often leads to another.

I don't want to spend $250,000 tracing Nitrates, because I believe the other evidence already points to septics as a cause. So while there's 'potential' for finding more information from such a study, I would have to be convinced such a study would benefit the decisions to be made after the study was completed.

Ann is advocating a narrow view of 'spend more money' before even looking how the potential outcomes of such a study.

Churadogs said...

Publicworks sez:"Ann is advocating a narrow view of 'spend more money' before even looking how the potential outcomes of such a study."

Ann is advocating no such thing. What Ann has been advocating since, uhmm, 1986 or so is simple: Find out the sources of the nitrates, for example. Design a system that can "fix" that which can be fixed and then be prepared to either mitigate or live with what can't be fixed, but don't confuse a sewer with clean water and pretend that one will "cure" the other. It may not. Additionally, I'm a great believer is doing "science" so you have a better chance of going in the right direction. One small case in point, only AFTER Tri W was ready to roll did anyone order up water tests to determine just what was in the upper aquifer (i.e. the "nasty stuff"), an aquifer which was supposed to be part of the overall plan for blending and reuse. I mentioned that total cart-before-the-horse in a column quite some time ago. That sort of thing isn't "science." It's leaping before looking, and indicates to me, that a Plan was being imposed ON and IN SPITE of "science," a Plan that was designed to FIRST address what? build out? higher densities? etc.(all legitimate issues, but not identical issues) and then, later, way down the pike, deal with clean water, salt water intrusion, importing water & etc. In short, Tri W has always been the a priori cart before the horse, something imposed by a different set of criteria instead of something that arose FROM the problem that needed to be addressed -- WATER, clean water. Square pegs, round holes.

PG-13 sez:" I too have a degree in science. In a field that should be closely related to this topic and it doesn't help a bit in this situation. IF anybody has expertise which can be used here they should be offering it to RWQCB - although I seriously doubt they would value it."

THAT's the problem.. . they wouldn't value it. Bingo. (see previous posting on the State's report on the lack of Science and Technology in waterboards & etc.) That is the tragedy playing istelf out here in Los Osos -- Square pegs, round holes, hidden a priori agendas, out of date "science," power plays having nothing to do with "science" or problem solving, wounded egos, Medea having a hissy fit, carts before horses, confusing A with B, . . . if it weren't so serious it would be purest farce.

*PG-13 said...

More on that ....

*PG-13>> "do you really want the politicos and the book-keepers driving final decisions? "
PublicWorks> It depends on who the politicians and book-keepers are. Los Osos does have and has had politicos and the book-keepers driving final decisions. Who do you think sits on the board? They are politicians - and that will always be the case. There's no getting around that.
>
> Los Osos is currently debating whether to have the Los Osos politicians call the shots or let the County politicians call the shots. Barring a constitutional amendment to designate appointed scientists to run the government, that's how it will continue.


You make my point. Too many politico's - not enough practical expertise. This is how we got into this fix and we just keep augering onward and downward. Verily, I do believe the BPP offers a potentially better resolution to the current situation mostly because I am hoping saner minds will prevail under county direction. There are other factors too but my hope is predicated primarily on still more hope that county decision making processes are more evolved and well defined than what the CSD's have been exercising. I realize that is a fragile hope. Still, while politicians do indeed make the final decisions, if the system is working as designed, they are supposed to base those decisions on good and proper process which includes input from the scientifico-legal-financico-technico's. Which is why Ann's original blog noting the lack of good and proper process in the RWQCB was noteworthy. If we don't get such process its just more of the same.

PublicWorks> ... I'm just a skeptic because I know the pitfalls of progressive scienitific experiments and tests that do not necessarily provide a solution to a complex problem. In the academic world, one study grant often leads to another. I don't want to spend $250,000 tracing Nitrates, because I believe the other evidence already points to septics as a cause. So while there's 'potential' for finding more information from such a study, I would have to be convinced such a study would benefit the decisions to be made after the study was completed.

I agree with you, this shouldn't be an academic endeavor. This should be real world engineering focused on attaining a set target of nitrates (and whatever else should be targeted) in our water supply as well as re-charge and salt water intrusion. This is a real-life practical application of science applied to a FAST and PRACTICAL solution. That's called engineering. As has been noted so often before, this is not rocket science. It's relatively simple engineering if targets are defined and there is data to work with. Engineering understands design limits and constraints. Time and money are familiar constraints. And engineers usually deal with them far better than politicians.

Engineering is not above reproach. Like The Force, it too can be turned to the dark side. (See: MWH) It is critical to pose the question correctly. Do we want something fast and as cheap as possible to get the various state agencies off our backs? Or do we want a clean and self-sustaining water supply. One can be done with no more data than we have now. The other requires more information than we have now.

That question is enticingly deceptive as there are significant costs and penalties attached to each option. And that's where it gets messy. Nobody said it was going to be easy. Or painless. Or free.

PublicWorks said...

Ann sez,

"One small case in point, only AFTER Tri W was ready to roll did anyone order up water tests to determine just what was in the upper aquifer (i.e. the "nasty stuff"),"

The state of the upper aquifer is a matter of water use, not disposal. This is one of the most misrepresented aspects of the sewer saga.

Regardless of where one puts a plant, be it in or out of town or using septics, tests of the upper aquifer are:

a) not easily accomplished (how much do you really want to spend to 'characterize' it, and do you truly know how much it would cost to characterize it, how accurate it would really be, and how long you would have to wait?? Do you even know how many tests it will take to characterize it accurately?

b) such tests are for water re-use, not for disposal, so the expense should be to all water users, which itself is a technico-politico-scientifico-legalico-manifesto issue, since there are three water purveyors - so to be fair BEFORE your science project starts, the costs of that would first have to be adjudicated among all providers and users of the water - quite a rub (can you spell DELAY).

Again, I believe Ann is underestimating the consequences of the philosophy she is expousing. Not saying it isn't grounded in reason, just saying it's not thought out as to potential consequences.

The sooner you have a disposal project (and that is the problem, we are disposing of unclean, high nitrate water - it's that simple) that either provides some re-charge to the aquifers or disposes via exchange, the sooner you address the water problem.

I don't care whether it's Ripley, Tri-W, Wickham, or Barnes & Noble, it's important to both improve the disposal ASAP and not by just fixing some leaky tanks.

Again, Ann's characterization that the discharge prohibition is not 'science' is hogwash. Since the prohibition has been implemented, Nitrate readings have been stabilizing. Nitrate readings correlate with high density and increased population. That is science, maybe not with a precision that could arguably be improved, but it is science.

*PG-13 said...

PublicWorks> ... tests of the upper aquifer are:( a) not easily accomplished (how much do you really want to spend to 'characterize' it, and do you truly know how much it would cost to characterize it, how accurate it would really be, and how long you would have to wait?? Do you even know how many tests it will take to characterize it accurately?

Thank you! All terrifically good questions. All of which I think should be asked and answered by somebody (or agency) who can make as good an estimate as possible. This too is data. Maybe not quantitative data providing for measurable analysis but they do provide some parameters for decision making. If the cost and time required to collect such info is so great as to make it illogical or prohibitive to do so that in itself is usable content. On the other hand, if it turns out not to be so expensive or time-consuming then why not do it? Obviously, it will eventually fall on somebody or some agency to decide how precise the answers need to be, how much is too much and/or whether the value of the data is worth the cost. But good process requires that these kinds of questions be asked and answered. How can one defend not asking these kinds of questions? Is the rush to build something/anything so great as to not want to know these things? I daresay composing a list of these kinds of questions and collecting some fact-based responses from appropriate experts can be done relatively quickly and inexpensively in parallel with all the other machinations underfoot. So there really is no time wasted in getting answers to these questions. And they may provide some insights into future decisions.

> I don't care whether it's Ripley, Tri-W, Wickham, or Barnes & Noble, it's important to both improve the disposal ASAP and not by just fixing some leaky tanks.

Couldn't agree with you more. Although I do wish there was more data on the Barnes & Noble option. And please don't forget the seemingly popular WB variation. (That's the Wine Bar alternative.)

So which proposed options and variations address leaky septic tanks as immediately as possible? Not two or three or more years down the road but now? I'm presuming even the RWQCB agrees the CDO/mad-pumping scheme needs to be reconsidered. So what else is there? Clearly a septic management program is in order but that's just a first step. (Why we don't already have one boggles me.) What else can we do to immediately change the discharge of the septic tanks? And can whatever we do now be integrated into the final solution? If we significantly reduce nitrate discharge now, using immediate on-site technologies, how does that influence other design considerations of the sewer? Please, I'm not hyping any specific person or technology. I'm hyping any solution that is (or can be) proven to be effective. These, like the earlier ones, are simple questions which should have relatively straightforward answers.

Please forgive my overly simplistic view of things. I'm not able to grok simultaneously all the many multi-faceted issues and subtle aspects of this passion play. It does seem a bit of a Gordian Knot which buggles my full and complete comprehension so I'm reduced to pulling on single strands here and there.

Sewertoons said...

PG-13,

The "rush" to build things has been going on for 20+ years and no one put forth the money to test these things, common knowledge on population density vs. septics per acre taking that place instead… (let alone manage to get anything built). Looks like all of this will fall to the county (or the state if a 218 fails to pass), so time to write those letters requesting this of those government agencies might be now.

What agency did you have in mind to immediately work on these problems of leaky septic tanks and to establish a septic management plan?

The CSD is apparently overwhelmed at the moment with lack of funds and strategizing with only half a Bleskey on a Blakeslee proposal that apparently will not include much, if any, CSD input if the County has anything to say about it.

The final solution will not change with whatever is cooked up (if anything) for septic management, as Zero discharge is what the Basin Plan requires, which is very much on the mind of the Regional Water Quality Water Board.

Anonymous said...

Yeesh,

I have a degree in engineering and physical science. Hmmm I guess I do understand what Wickham is saying. His application of bacteria is a well understood way of doing things like well cleaning up oil spills. Unlike most of the folks who have lent their 2 cents and don't just do a 9-5 at Cal Poly, the government, or in some orange grove like Bruce Gibson; he actually delivered a device to at least 3 locations in Los Osos. He is testing it. He is delivering both data and results.

In my field that is what separates "vapor ware" from real hardware. Or the talkers from the do'ers.

So, what part of septic systems don't you understand? The really nasty polluting part is the solids, right? Hmmm, dr wickham's device removes solids. How via benign bacteria that consume it and produce a gas. What is left after the solids? Well secondary treated effluent. Lets stop there.

You have just succeeded in producing effluent that is cleaner than any centralized sewage treatment on the central coast is capable of producing with nitrate levels of below 2mg/l. Name one centralized sewage system that specs out better.

So, add a $400-$500 UV device and a holding tank and you have full tertiary treated effluent. Most of the the germs are gone. Now you are greater than an order of magnitude better than any centralized sewage treatment system on the central coast.

Oh "endocrines disruptor"? Prescription drugs stuff that might be left in the water can be handled by a Riparian forest at some site like Tri-W with trees like redwoods, cottonwoods that absorb these compounds and reduce carbon dioxide. Recirculating sand filters using Los Osos amazing, rare and wonderful sand would do a great job of filtering some of the impurities out as well.

The water is at full tertiary. Time to reuse it.

Oh that's right testing... hmmm with the advent of AB885 EVERY SEPTIC will come under managment and will have to be tested and observed eventually, Starting six months after January 2007. But let's see a few lysimeter tests by Wickham and a neutral observer prove that his device works. All that is left is your full tertiary treated effluent. For a small fee you could send that out to one of the companies that, for a small fee, tell you the composition of your drinking water.

If the water board can accept Matt Thompson's color inside the lines graph of the "neutral zone" from star trek they might have a hard time not accepting your tests.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if Wickham personally posts here? Would make for interesting reading for him to argue with himself. A few lysimeter tests here and there will make all the difference!

Churadogs said...

zI think it would be wonderful if Dr. Wickham did post his comments here. And do it without using some Anonymoose made up name.