Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Connections, Part Duh, Weird Water and More Misc.

It was clear from some comments on my last posting “Connections,” 2/12/07 that some folks missed the point. The posting wasn’t intended to be a Complete History Of The World Part I, but instead was a match-up game illustrating the nearly endless combinations that would result if you linked A with M resulting in W or C to F resulting in Q and so forth.

Ron Crawford of chimed in to illustrate a part of the game I had left out: What happens when the SYSTEM itself (aka “the process” ) fails. For example, suppose the Coastal Commission, during the de novo hearing, had actually insisted on an answer to their question regarding a comparison of in-town vs out-of-town systems? That would have very likely changed the entire outcome. But they didn’t and the citizens were powerless to make them do their jobs.

Which points up yet another fatal flaw in this whole sad saga: System Failure itself.

Public works projects are like the tropical insect eating Pitcher Plant. At the bottom of the throat of the tube-like “flower,” is a pool of sweet smelling protein-digesting enzymes. The fly lands on the lip of the “flower” to sniff a bit, -- Yum, Yum -- then heads down the throat. It is not until the fly gets about ½ way down that it dawns on him that maybe this isn’t such a good idea and he tries to turn around and go back. It is only then that he finds that the throat of this tube is lined with spiked hairs all pointing one way – down. The little creature struggles to get out but is trapped, gets exhausted, finally turns and slides down into the pool and is digested. The plant is fed. The fly dies.

The SYSTEM that built the Hideous Los Osos Sewer is exactly like that Pitcher Plant. It is a system that does not have easily accessible escape hatches or course correction mechanisms. All the project “hairs” point one way and once you take that first step, it’s often totally impossible to change direction or reverse direction, even though everyone may agree that disaster lies ahead. Instead, all the systems that are there for oversight are often set up to speed the fly downward, not act as a check & balance should something be discovered during the Process that would require a correction.

And if the Powers That Be wish a certain outcome, no matter how bad that outcome may be, (think here of the lack of due diligence on the part of the SRF Loan, the hurry to pound that money into the ground, the constand litany of FINES!FINES!FINES! whenever questions that might involve a delay came up, & etc.) no matter that there are better outcomes or more and better science or engineering or whatever it is, then everything about the System can be used to keep the fly heading downwards.

And after the meal is digested, and everyone stands around and says, Oh Darn, Oh, Dear, Oh, Well, the passive voice will again appear in the land – Mistakes Were Made – and very few will think to take a look at a System that allowed – nay, encouraged – such “mistakes.”

And if Los Ososians think all this is merely a History Lesson, think again. The System, the PROCESS, is the same system working on the “New! Improved! Wastewater System.” The same system weakness is there, the same lack of checks and balances should certain thumbs get on the scale, should certain agencies fail to do their jobs. So we could again have another train wreck, or another dead fly, to mix metaphors. That’s why it’s so important for Los Ososians to Pay Attention to make sure it’s the right fly and the right “flower.”

Water Water Everywhere, Sort of

The Morro Bay City Council heard more about last November’s water crisis – switching wells that resulted in tapping a well with water way above the state allowed levels of nitrates. This emergency resulted in a mad scramble to alert residents that was heroic but did point up the fact that Morro Bay didn’t really have a completed System in place for this type of emergency. So the efforts were very much Loving Hands At Home with folks really pitching in, flying by the seat of their pants, working overtime to handle a situation that blew up out of nowhere.

So the City Council is now working on setting up a system to trigger a better notification process when this same thing happens in November, when the wells will be tapped again and this whole thing may repeat.

And Cleath & Assoc have signed a contract to test the groundwater to see where the nitrates are coming from. It appeared that Wells 9 & 10 in the Chorro Valley spiked. Those wells are normally fallow, and when they’re started and stopped and started, there’s a nitrate variation. So the question remained: Where are the Nitrates coming from?

Immediate assumption: Ag run off and nitrate fertilizer run off from Ag lands in the Chorro Valley. Ag lands? Fertilizers polluting the waters of the State of California? Where’s Waldo? i.e. the Regional Water Quality Control Board?

Dunno. Who’s responsible for monitoring groundwater basins? Well, it sure couldn’t be our RWQCB. They’re broke. Had enough money to waste for a whole year on harassing and tormenting The Los Osos 45 in their pointless Mad Hatter “Trials,” but not enough money to videotape the last Jan 22 Kangaroo Court, so clearly they couldn’t possibly have had the budget to monitor water quality in a water basin. Nope.

So, maybe it’s the County’s job to monitor ground water? Well, the Cleath & Associates water report will be interesting. Stay tuned.

Board Appointments

In today’s Tribune editorial, it notes that David Chipping was appointed to a seat on the county’s Water Resources Advisory Committee. If you recall, Los Osos developer Jeff Edwards had applied for that seat and came under fire for not being “green” enough, since the advisory committee is supposed to be about SAVING water, not building stuff that USES water.

However, I called someone on the committee to ask whether the Committee had a “Developer” chair, and if it didn’t, shouldn’t it invent just such a chair? After all, developers have a major stake in water use issues and such is the arcane nature of water use law that the old Godfather dictum should apply: Keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer.

Well, apparently the Committee may consider Edwards’ request to have a Builder’s Chair, uh, built, a Chair that the various builder groups could nominate candidates for and the BOS could fill. Right now the Farm Bureau chooses its chair, various environmental groups nominate their chairs, so why not have a Developer Chair, and let the developers nominate a person who is an innovative “green” builder with ideas on how to SAVE water while USING it.

Woof-Woof, Redux.

The Morro Bay City Council will have on their agenda for their February 26 meeting (at the Vets Hall 6 pm.) another look at developing a fenced off-leash dog park at Del Mar Park. Morro Bay’s been trying for years to get an official off-leash park up and running. To date, there are now four official fenced off-leash areas (El Chorro, Nipomo, Cambria, Atascadero), with two, possibly three more off-leash projects in the works in various parts of the county. If that’s something you’d like to see happen for Morro Bay, do attend the meeting and let your voice be heard.


Sewertoons said...

Does it really matter what types of sewer systems are proposed by the County, or where they are to be located? There will be a very vocal contingency for each option, whining about process foul, overbid contracts, obscure edicts that aren't being inforced, pushy people with evil agendas, unfair jurisdictions, unfair locations, etc., etc. ad nauseum.

I am just sick, sick, sick of us and our self absorbed, navel-gazing, PC-nit-picking and downright obstructionism brought about by too much pie-in-the-sky cloud gazing - or "prescription" drug use - or both. Do you understand the word S-E-L-F-I-S-H Los Osos?

Get over it! There is going to be a sewer here if the Supreme Court has to come in to build it. And varying groups are going to loath it, kicking, writhing, flinging spit and turning blue (-ice, robin's egg, peacock) in their precious little faces.

There is just one towering, rock-solid constant in this self inflicted debacle. It will cost more tomorrow than it did last week. So keep vocal with your conspiracies and suspicions - you are shooting off your feet up to your kneecaps.

Anonymous said...


The sewer, ANY sewer, proposed for Los Osos will not satisfy everyone!

All the delays and obstructions thrown in the way are only going to cost us more than any plan would have even 16 long months ago!

Bitch about the process, the design, the location, the smell, you name it, someone is going to have an objection! And to top it off, we'll have Ann right there egging on the vocal malcontents!

Damn woman, I don't like paying taxes, why don't you jump up and fly around the room on your broom and get us a few years delay in paying this year!

Anonymous said...

I would like to see a sustainable plan with a small environmental footprint. Global warming is here. Building a traditional gravity system would be asinine with the current awareness and acceptance of the consequences of global warming. Any government agency that refuses to see the writing on the wall should be held liable for their incompetence.

Anonymous said...

Why can't EVERYONE be HAPPY with the most AFFORDABLE project for Los Osos, that's also sustainable & we will NOT have all of our street torn up? I'm talking about the ORENCO project. God knows our street are ALL the PITS already, but think of how much could be saved by NOT having them ALL TORN UP. I for one do not want to park 2 blocks down the street from my home while the sewer is being installed. Think about it, THAT is a REAL burden for some folks. The County was supposed to be MAINTAINING these streets & to my knowledge, they've done NOTHING, except PATCH a few MAJOR pot holes that had become very dangerous.

Anonymous said...

What's with the county and BOS Tuesday meetings being cancelled?

Does anyone know why?

Anonymous said...

the BOS just couldn't take Los Osos anymore so they decided it would be better to sneak over to the Cliffs and drink and made a resolution to dissolve the County so the next BOS meeting will take place up in Monterey in a month

Snowy Plover said...

I'll take Orenco, please.
That's a yes vote by a multiple property owner inside the PZ.

Anonymous said...

It appears Orenco will be able to work with Dana Ripley to get a sustainable system for Los Osos. Who needs the big Tri-W project that will take so much energy (with energy costs going up so much in the future.) A step system will not disrupt our lives and won't kill all of our trees (which is what makes Los Osos more attractive than Morro Bay.)

It's one or the other, gravity or step. The county should give us that choice or the vote won't pass. Let's get it right! I'll take Orenco too! I refuse to give the county an open check book or credit card -- not gonna happen!

Anonymous said...

the vote will pass - you can post a hundred times and say whatever fad you want

Churadogs said...

Interesting. A posting about the Morro Bay nitrates in their well water, their preparation to have a repeat of that problem in November when they switch wells again, and a puzzle: How is it possible for the groundwater/wells there to have high nitrates with nobody seeing it coming? Where's Waldo, i.e. Where was the RWQCB? Is nobody monitering the groundwater in the Chorro Valley? The M.B. City Council immediately suggested Ag runoff as a possible source, but clearly nobody knows. Why not?

All those questions and the responders to this blog are still stuck in Los Osos. Is it likely with changing ag practices (wine grapes and avacadoes vs. open cattle grazing)that there are growing groundwater problems both in the Chorro Valley and the Los Osos Valley? Is anybody responsible for monitoring the BASINS there? Who?

Anonymous said...

As another offering that is not directly in line with your suggested topics for today, I would like to note that I just read Joe Sparks' Viewpoint in the Tribune, and can't find much in it that I disagree with. Our CSD Board needs to deal with the current financial circumstances that we have, and develope a modified budget plan asap. They also should be focusing their attention on the water quantity and quality concerns that we are facing.

The CSD no longer has a sewer service, and should no longer have the significant administrative overhead cost that went along with that function. Like any other government entity that has large debt to liquidate, drastic budget modifications need to be made now.

Anonymous said...

The CSD does not have a decent budget because they keep hiring expensive attorneys and consultants!
They need to get Jon Sites back, and fire all the others. They don't need any more consultants, because the sewer is out of their incompetent hands.

If they have misappropriated the I bank loan, they need to go to jail. (Not Joe Sparks.)

The budget used to have costs allocated to the various Funds as necessary, not use the Administration Fund as some big dumping ground. The Administration Budget used to be in the $575K-$650K range. Who knows what it will be now?

Anonymous said...

The prop. 218 vote will NOT PASS in LOS OSOS unless the county gives us (1) choices (2) prices....We were stung before & will NOT be stung again. No Blank checks for the county this time. Give us Orenco, it's not only the MOST affordable, but sustainable as well. SLO County, wake up! Give Orenco a chance to bid this job!

Anonymous said...

You may be wishing the 218 won't pass, but those of us who are property owners are generally holding our tongues and keeping open minds. Let's wait and see what the County comes up with before getting carried away.

Anonymous said...

anon 4:45 says no blank checks, ...hmmm, except for the blank check they want to give to Orenco.