No, It’s Not Déjà vu, It Just Looks Like It On TV, and other Sewerville News
I rushed out to the driveway this morning to grab the Tribune. Figured that Abraham Hyatt would have another headline about “all septic tanks must be replaced!” like he did when he apparently mistook a years-old Ripley Pacific proposal for THE proposal he’s working on now. But since the CSD meeting last night went until 11, his deadline would have passed, so maybe the headline will appear tomorrow. Or Mr. Hyatt may be waiting until the project report’s written update is sent to the CSD and public Tuesday or Wednesday.
Meantime, folks at the meeting got a gander at what Ripley Pacific’s project update has been looking at. First, since the cost of a regular gravity collection system is already known (the collection costs for Tri-W), he’ll be looking at “pressure systems” alternatives, i.e. STEP or STEG or STEP/STEG combined with enhanced onsite systems where applicable. Prices still to come, but the cost of pressure collection systems is waaaaaaay cheaper and less disruptive than laying traditional gravity collection pipes. The cost of the treatment plant will also depend on the type chosen. If it doesn’t involve tons of cement or fancy “wave walls,” and doesn’t use MBR technology, it should be cheaper than Tri-W. Ditto if whatever treatment system is chosen can at least be partially run by solar energy, thereby keeping operation cost down. And, if a pressure system is chosen, then the necessity for tank inspection and the cost of tank replacement will have to be factored in as well.
Second, the heart of any alternative that he’s proposing is the use of a so-called “ag exchange” program. In short, farmers within the same basin stop pumping “drinking water” out of the lower aquifer to irrigate their crops and in exchange they get a secure source of treated effluent, and since the cost of nitrogen fertilizer has doubled, the more nitrogen left in the effluent the better. They get nitrates in their irrigation water that can be used for their crops and sod and nursery plants and Los Osos “townies” then have the unused clean lower aquifer water left in the ground that can be used for drinking. There will also be treated wastewater for the various parks, golf courses, cemetery grounds and so forth. With a strong water conservation program (already started by the CSD), and proper water management, the Ripley Pacific hydrologist feels that Los Osos may be able to achieve it’s planned build-out without having to import state water. (Still in the future would be the ability to “purple pipe” tertiary treated wastewater to homes for use in home irrigation. Right now, it’s an expensive dream, but with water becoming a truly scarce commodity, in the future that “expensive” dream may become a necessity unless we all xerescape now with California natives, which isn’t a bad idea anyway.)
But the most interesting part of Ripley’s proposal on the collection system is the plan to phase it in by laying the main collection pipe through the “nitrate hot spots.” Since pressure systems are cheap, the cost of the length of pipe is not the key, but avoiding elevations requiring huge amounts of energy to pump the effluent up hill and up dale is the key. Therefore, on the preliminary map, the main collection system would snake around following the topography’s low spots (like water flowing downhill) while hitting the worse nitrate “hot spots” and bayside areas to pick up any possible bay “seepers” before heading out of town. (The maps should be in the technical report due out Tuesday.) The second main collection pipe would run down LOVR and join up with the first one, with a cross-town pipe hitting the other “hot area” near the central business area. The end result is a closed loop system that allows for redundancy, i.e. should a malfunction somewhere along the main line occur, the effluent could be routed another way in the way that if there’s a breakdown in the phone system, a call can still get to New York by way of Toronto instead of Kansas, for example.
Since pressure systems can be installed in shallow trenches using a directional boring method, they’re waaaaay faster (and cheaper) to install than traditional gravity pipes, which means that phase one could start collecting from the worst hot-spots first. Collection in phase two would then go after the other “hot spot,” areas while the need to collect from the third phase areas would be evaluated to see whether those homes would qualify for Prohibition Zone “exceptions” and could use an enhanced onsite system such as the one being used at the Firehouse and so forth.
Overall, the option being looked at has the planned focus being put on speed and ease of “hot spot” collection as having the biggest bang for the buck, nitrate loading-wise, while the long term goal will be the total beneficial use and reuse of water, since water, even treated effluent water, is not something that needs to be “disposed”of or “discharged,” but is, instead, a valuable . . . no, priceless . . . commodity.
An interesting note from Ripley’s hydrologist: The farmers/growers at the tip of the water basin are at the highest elevation which means when the aquifer starts into overdraft, (water rolling down hill leaves the top of the hill first) they’ll be the first ones hit, with their irrigation well production dropping even before folks in town notice a thing. The farmers in Monterey county (Salinas valley) found out the hard way just what an impact an overdrafted aquifer can have on their wells – early seawater intrusion threatening their ability to farm. They’re now starting in greater numbers to use a steady supply of “townie” treated wastewater for irrigation.
When it comes to a water basin, speaking of “being in this together” isn’t feel-good, soppy rhetoric. For better or worse, it really is being in this together.
Speaking of which, an appeal was made last night that all folks claiming to be interested in the community and all things sewerish need to get their input in early. The environmental review committee will be looking at all this as is moves along, but the community in general needs to also be guiding and shaping the project report by their input. Unless nobody cares one way or the other?
Oh, Noooooo, The Trees! The Trees!
I know, it will look like Tri W Tree déjà vu all over again, the big saws and chippers suddenly at work, shattering the peace and quiet of a morning, great trees falling to wood chips, the startlement of folks driving by, Whaaaaaa?????
Starting June 12, some more big, ginormous eucalyptus trees will be coming down on Los Osos Valley Road. Nope, it’s not a pre-emptive strike by the CSD, just the result of widening the road at Palisades Ave. According to an email from Rosmarie Gaglione, SLO County Public Works: “Later this year, the Department of Public Works will be installing traffic signals at the intersection of Los Osos Valley Road and Palisades Ave. A right turn lane will be installed on Los Osos Valley Road westbound onto Palisades Ave. Drainage problems at the intersection will also be corrected.
“In order to construct these improvements, several eucalyptus trees fronting the park on the Los Osos Valley Road will need to be removed. No one likes to have to cut down trees, but without doing so the Department cannot build the needed improvements within established standards for roadway and traffic signal design; standards which are much more stringent than those in effect at the time that Los Osos Valley Road was originally built and those trees were not quite as large.”
“Tree removal will begin on Monday, June 12, 2006. This work was approved as part of the coastal permit for park improvements. We will be conducting the required reptor/nesting bird surveys during the two weeks leading up to June 12. Stump removal will occur at a later date; however, initial work will be monitored by an archeologist as required.”
Any questions, call Rosmarie Gaglione, project Manager at 788-2318.
So, bye-bye bit trees. Again.
Measure B Bites The Dust, some more, sort of, maybe, oh, wait . . .
Judge Martin Tangeman ruled that Measure B “went too far by dictating decisions that should legally be made by” the CSD Board. The CSD’s attorney reported out of closed session that the Board “had no choice but to appeal the case,” that meanwhile, they would work on a possible settlement, but wanted to avoid paying Taxpayer’s Watch’s legal fees and would be filing an appeal of the case in the meantime
It is certainly a case that may end up filled with Irony! The previous Board voted to have the CSD go to court to block Measure B from getting on the ballot. That lawsuit made the legal argument that Measure B illegally “dictated decisions that should legally be made by CSD Board members.” That blocking suit failed to stop it from getting on the ballot. (The courts have repeatedly ruled against such blocking suits, preferring that initiatives, no matter how cockamamie, be voted on THEN challenged and dumped.)
After the election that recalled that board majority, the group known as Taxpayer’s Watch, privately filed suit arguing that Measure B “illegally dictated decisions that should legally be made by CSD Board members.” (The unanswered question: If Measure B was written so as to require that a sewer plant be built at Tri-W, (instead of putting limits on siting and requiring a citizen vote that could lead to choosing another site and/or project) would Taxpayer’s Watch have gone to court, claiming that the initiative usurped the CSD’s powers? In short, was the Taxpayer’s Watch suit a principled one (i.e. upholding a general right or principle regardless of any particular detail) or one tied directly to a particular sewer plant in a particular place that they wanted built that the measure was thwarting?)
In any event, the newly elected board settled with CASE, over the matter of blocking the measure before the election. (And paid a big time penalty for that original board’s blocking folly) Yet to be settled was the appeal of the case on the validity of the initiative itself, now that the election was over. Also to be settled was whether Taxpayer’s Watch had filed their case within the proper time allowed.
Judge Tangeman ruled that they had filed “.. as timely as reasonably possible,” and upheld his previous ruling that Measure B was illegal. Since I don’t think, in all the suing and more suing, an appeals court has heard the merit of the case, (only the attempt to block the measure from being voted on) will the appeal now get the substance of the case before a different judge?
Weirdly, while the case is on appeal, the CSD could write and vote on an ordinance nearly identical to Measure B, thereby giving themselves an ordinance that couldn’t be challenged in court under the same laws Taxpayer’s Watch used the first time.
I find this all very ironic. Such an ordinance would appear to be the same sauce, but sometimes the gander changes and becomes a goose. And vice versa.
Well, it’s Los Osos. Stay tuned.