Fun With Numbers
At the June 7 LOCSD meeting, Dr. Wickham, CEO of ABG Wastewater Solutions, gave an update on the field tests taken from the Pirana “Sludgehammer” system that was installed in the firehouse’s septic system.
While the tests were only field tests (a larger volume of water will be taken later and trotted to the labs for official testing), Dr. Wickham noted that because the RWQCB was reluctant to accept the possibility that denitrification takes place in the soil (despite studies to that effect done by the county years ago, which they dismiss, with no data to back up their dismissal) , he modified the system to see what kind of reductions he could get in the tank. In the field test the nitrogen content started at about 80-90 and is now about 20, in the tank. In the soil, twelve inches below the tank’s discharge pipe, the field sample is showing 3 mgl nitrates.
Why is that interesting? Because the RWQCB has issued a discharge permit for the old Tri W project that allowed for 7 mgl of nitrates in treated wastewater to be discharged to the soil Seven or three? Which is better? If you said, “Why, three is better,” you’d be wrong. The RWQCB, the board that has the word “Water Quality” in its name, won’t allow an inexpensive onsite system that delivers 3 mgls of nitrates. It is going to force you to buy and build a gazillion dollar gravity-fed behemoth sewer plant that finally delivers treated wastewater that contains 7 mgls of nitrates. You see?
Also, when the RWQCB rushed ahead with the ill-considered CDOs and proposed their mad pumping scheme, they were aiming to reduce gross, overall discharges by some 20% by removing the wastewater, in order to attempt to reduce the overall nitrate load. They had never bothered to check with Dr. Wickham to see if his system would deliver in-tank nitrate reductions far lower (and cheaper) without removing gazillions of gallons of water out of our overdrafted basin. Hadn’t bothered to check. Which illustrates once again that the Board’s science is simply shoddy and their research nonexistent.
Dr. Wickham further reported that he’ll be applying to the county for building permits for the firehouse and one other site for the Pirana system. Dr. Wickham observed that the RWQCB was trying to exert pressure on the county to stop this system from being given a permit. They claim it’s a wastewater alternative and so they won’t allow it, but in reality, your septic tank has already received a permit from the county, and installing a Pirana is no different than installing a new bathtub or updating your plumbing fixtures by putting in a low-flow toilet and etc, items for which you’ve already gotten your county building permit, so you don’t’ need a new one.
And science marches on. Too bad the RWQCB won’t join the march.
LAFCO’s dissolution hearing date changed.
Due to a public notification goof-up, the LAFCO dissolution hearing has been changed from June 15th to July 6th, in the BoS new meeting room, starting at 9 .a.m. The extra three weeks will also give the staff time to get the latest information on budgets and other items. It should be an interesting meeting, since it may be difficult to keep the Commissioners on track since various “trial balloons” regarding the sewer issue seem to be clouding the issue.
In her May 25 letter to Paul Hood regarding the “sewer options” he had floated previously, Gail Wilcox, Deputy County Administrative Officer, had to note that she was “unclear about your intent in terms of the two scenarios presented in your letter. Our understanding is that the actions of LAFCO can consider at the June 15 [sic] hearing on the petition to dissolve are:
1) Approve the petition to dissolve the LOCSD (subject to confirmation of the voters if a petition signed by 25-50% of voters is submitted); or
2) Deny the petition to dissolve the LOCSD; or
3) Continue the hearing on this matter for up to 70 days. “
In short, instead of trial balloons or getting derailed by sewer projects, LAFCO is supposed to be deciding whether the CSD is a functioning entity or not. If it is, they need to deny the petition. If it isn’t, then they’ll have to vote to dissolve it. And if they don’t yet have enough legal or financial info, then they should postpone the decision until hey have enough information to make a considered decision.
You’d think, but this is SLO county, where weirdness is king.
And, finally, it’s the Why we’re SHOCKED! SHOCKED! Department.
In a May 31st Bay News story on the LAFCO hearing, it notes, “Joyce Albright of Taxpayers Watch, the group seeking to dissolve the CSD, said they oppose having the CSD continue to have any power whatsoever to direct the construction of the sewer project. Their goal is to have the abandoned [Tri W] project built.”
What??? Awww, and here I recall Taxpayer’s Watch got their dissolution petitions going immediately after the recall election by telling us they were all concerned about the district not functioning, about the district wasting so much money, wringing their hands over the district spending taxpayer’s money on legal fees by suing the district themselves, thereby causing the district to waste even more taxpayer money on legal fees, on falsely implying that dissolving the CSD would protect the citizens from the CDOs, all that wrinkle browed deep and abiding concern about good government and now . . . NOW? . . . we find out that what it was REALLY all about was using LAFCO's dissolution power to set aside the recall and Measure B vote so they could get their rejected sewer plant put back in the middle of town?
Gosh, I’m surprised by such a cynical ploy. Aren’t you?