The following press release is from PZLDF (Prohibition Zone Legal Defense Fund)
PETITION FOR REVIEW OF ACTIONS
BY THE CENTRAL COAST REGIONAL WATER QUALITY CONTROL BOARD FILED
January 16, 2006: 14 of the 45 residents and property owners in Los Osos targeted for enforcement filed a petition for the State water Resources Control Board to review the actions of the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board. (RWQCB)The appeal is brought on behalf of all individual property owners and residents of Los Osos who have been, or will be, subject to the issuance of individual Cease and Desist Orders, or who oppose the issuance of CDO’s. Representation is by Sullivan and Associates. The appeal and the first step in contesting the “lottery style” enforcement actions taken by the Regional Water Board. Petitioners include designated parties who were issued Cease and Desist Orders at the December 14 and 15 hearings before the RWQCB. Named in the appeal is Rhian Gulassa, Alan and Jacqueline Martyn, Christopher D. Allebe, Edwin and June Ingan, Laurie McCombs, Julie Miller, Cinthia T. Coleman, Lawrence Kleiger, Clint Koch, and anonymous CDO recipient 1040. The petition is also brought by the Prohibition Zone Legal Defense Fund (PZLDF) on behalf of individual and entities targeted in the future, including the Los Osos CSD, who is a designated party in the proceeding. Petitioners also include at least five more designated parties who had “agreed” to settle, based upon misrepresentations or who were under duress and entered into a “settlement agreement” at the December hearings. They since learned the settlement is actually a Clean up and Abatement Order-(CAO), and could lead to $5000 per day in fines if the project does not move forward.
The Los Osos septic systems are county permitted, and functioning as they should, but do not remove nitrates. Nitrates can affect drinking water over time. The petitioners contend the water board is abusing their authority in this unprecedented action against individual citizens using regulations meant for government agencies and industry. Application of these regulations to individuals violates citizens rights, property owners cannot possibly comply with the terms, and could lose their homes if a collection and treatment facility is not available for them to hook up to by 2011.
The orders, along with reporting requirements, mean property owners must pump and inspect septic tanks. Most, if not all have met this requirement, and are paying a sewer assessment bill. The concern is they must stop discharging and hook up to a sewer, but what if a sewer is not available? Petitioners contend that government agencies build Wastewater Treatment projects, not individuals. They cannot accept responsibility for something an individual cannot control.
It took the water board nearly a year to hear just 4 cases, but the Regional Water Board expects to issue similar orders on all 5000 properties in the near future. “That isn't a cost effective or prudent use of taxpayer’s funds” according to Gail McPherson, spokesperson for PZLDF “Experts testified at the hearing that the enforcement requirements had no water quality benefits whatsoever. No one is against complying with the terms of the CDO, and petitioners have voluntarily complied with the requirements that are within their control. Individual enforcement in this form does noting for cleaning water, and undermines confidence in the Blakeslee bill and the county process to deliver the needed project. The issue of enforcement orders coercing a 218 vote ought to be a valid concern.”
The petitioners are requesting the SWRCB to "dismiss all enforcement actions and vacate all rulings, orders and CDO, CAO, and stop the RWQCB from pursuing further enforcement against individuals." The SWRCB petitions are usually resolved without an evidentiary hearing, and often the State Water Board will hold a workshop to discuss the matter. In this case the petitioners have requested an evidentiary hearing if the actions are not dismissed.
In the meantime, hearings resume for at least four more of the original 45 Los Osos property owners on Monday January 22, 2007 at 1:00 PM.895 Aerovista Place, Suite 101, San Luis Obispo. The public is encouraged to attend.
Donations to the Prohibition Zone Legal Defense Fund (Checks to PZLDF) can be made at Coast Bank or mailed to P.O Box 6095 Los Osos Ca 93412
for additional information on enforcement:
SWRCB office of Chief Counsel
Dolores White email@example.com
RWQCB Prosecution Staff
Matt Thompson: 805.549-3159 firstname.lastname@example.org