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Monday, March 19, 2007

Put Out The Cat . . . Puuuutttttt outttt the caaaattttt….

Headline in Sunday’s Tribune: “Default may hurt chances for sewer loan; $6.5 million is still owed from scrapped project; county must arrange payback before getting more state money.”


First off, it’s not the county’s job to “arrange payback” of anything. They’re working on various possibilities for various sewer plans, some of which might require an SRF loan, some might not. (The problem with the SRF loan is that the Governor’s signing statement may be in legal conflict with the Blakeslee bill, something that should be resolved before we get any more headline stories like this one, doncha think?)


But second, I kept wondering, Why was this story on the front page? It’s not “news,” it’s not even “new.” But it does send that soft subliminal message that the only way Los Osos can get a sewer built is via the State Revolving Loan and that the County is responsible for paying back the defaulted loan. Neither of which is news or even true, so I had to wonder Why this story? Then I remembered, the Gary Larsen Far Side cartoon:

Guy’s asleep in bed with The Cat by his side. Peering through the bedroom window is The Dog, whispering his little subliminal message: “Put out the cat. Puuuutttt outtt the caaaattttt……”

Keep it up, Trib, and pretty soon all of Los Osos will KNOW that the sun sets in the east and that the ONLY sewer project they will be allowed to vote on will require a SRF loan. Putttt outttt the caaatttttt.

May I Pre-Chew Your Food For You?

On of the regular anonymous commentors on this blog site responded to my notice that there would be a March 18 benefit for The Los Osos 45’s legal appeal by Citizens for Clean Water (PZLDF, more donations of which can be made at Coast Bank, next to the Post Office), a barbeque with prizes, and live music from Garth Wilwand as well as Sweetrock, (a BBQ that was well attended, not a single bean left over, lot of fun had by all) by first noting that he/she wanted nothing to do with PZLDF, to which I suggested that at the very least she/he get a copy of the appeal brief filed with the State Water Board and read it to see what legal issues regarding the CDOs were being questioned. (This becomes particularly apt since the CSD, as a designated party, is also signed on with attorney Shauna Sullivan and is filing that brief as well, which means it involves everyone in the community, not just The Los Osos 45 friends and neighbors.) Herewith was part of his/her reply:

You’re the one asking me to change my opinion about the PZLDF. Let’s pretend for a moment that I am busy and you really want to convince me (and others) that PZLDF is actually worth supporting. Maybe it would be a good idea for you to make it easy for us to see Sullivan’s “brief.” You tell us that we should go and do the research. Honestly, because I don’t think it will change my mind, I’m not going to take the effort to hunt it
down, but if you make it easy to access, I’ll read it. But I’ll need convincing and if you don’t want to try, you can count on not getting my $10.

First off, for non-regular readers, this particular anonymous poster is known for the HOURS he/she has spent running up figures and numbers and posting them to “prove” whatever financial arguments she/he wished to make. (I likened it to medieval monks who spent years debating exactly how many angels could dance on the head of a pin.) And he/she is a regular poster, which also involves considerable time and effort responding to the original post as well as responding to other poster’s responses, so it cannot be said this person lacks diligence.) And she/he has always been critical of my and other’s opinions, to which I have constantly replied, Fine, Go look at the documents themselves, then make your own judgments.

Yet there it finally was, a perfect example of Reason # 3958234290423892 Why Los Osos Flew Off The Cliff – Can’t be bothered to get off my duff and do a little homework, do it for me, would you?

To which I can only reply: Waaaah-Waaaahhh, You want me to Pre-Chew your food for you, too? How’s about digesting it for you as well?

Yikes! Being a government of and by and for the people requires SOME effort BY the people. If not, you get a citizenry of babies who will get exactly what Big Uncle Daddy decides to give them and if they cry, Big Auntie Mommy will come spank.

Speaking of which, the Sewer TAC has now been picked. PAY ATTENTION LOS OSOS

The new 14-member citizens committee to “establish pros and cons for sewer alternatives” has been selected. Their meetings will be held under Brown Act rules, which means they’ll be open to the public (Let’s hope they’ll be held at a time when most people can attend, i.e. in the evening after work hours?) and there will be a properly agendized time for the public to comment and all documents will be open to scrutiny.

Unlike the Pablum-Seeking blog commentor above, I hope many Los Ososians will get off their duffs and attend those TAC meetings and get informed and stay informed. Otherwise, Big Uncle Daddy will dump a large glop of extremely expensive cold gruel on their plate, then hand them an astronomical bill.

More Chances to Speak Out.

Los Osos residents, Bill Moylan, Karen Venditti, Judy Vick and Keith Wimer, have started a new “Viewpoint” section in the Bay News, “Let’s Talk Los Osos,” wherein they encourage readers to send in questions or comments to letstalklo@gmail.com. The various reader comments will be used in their column to raise issues or share information. Furthermore, the Bay news also encourages residents to send letters to their Editor at news@thebaynews.net. So, start your computers!

Sewage Spills, We Still Got Sewage Spills.

Tribune’s March 17 story: “An estimated 50,000 gallons of sewage spilled Wednesday and Thursday after a buildup of grease in a sewer line caused sewage to back up and flow out a manhole at 410 E. Branch St. in the Village. An unknown amount of sewage flowed into the nearby creek.
“The manhole was in a hard-to-see area, according to city officials, so the leak wasn’t detected for about 24 hours.”

Needless to say, this was a gravity system, which allows for these kinds of undetected spills. Mr. Bob Stark had this in the March 19th Tribune Letters on the spill:

More is enough.
More sewage spills, more beach closings, more creek foulings. Not in Los Osos, and there will never be as long as the septic tanks are used and only the effluent is treated [i.e. a pressurized STEP/STEG system].
Grease can only plug one tank and not the entire community. The dangers of gravity collection systems how up in the papers all the time for those that do not heed the warning signs.
No, Los Osos is not going down that path, thank you.

Well, as for going down that path, that remains to be seen. Certainly, STEP systems would have sounded a warning bell so the operator could have closed off any break quickly since there are no “hard-to-see” areas in such a system. And if Los Osos were gravity-pipe sewered and such a break occurred in a hard-to-see area near the Bay, well 50,000 gallons . . . .? I would hate to think of the RWQCB fine that would follow such a break.

But will the citizens of Los Osos connect the Gravity Pipe-Sewage Spill dots? They will if the Tribune starts running some Puuuuttt outttt the caaaatttt “news” stories on gravity vs. STEP systems. Until then, they’re on their own.

Connnneeccctttt the dotttttts …. Conneccttttt theeee dotttsssssss…..

31 comments:

Shark Inlet said...

Nice touch, Ann.

Might I suggest that this is a new low for you.

I had to ask three times about how I could get the information you refer to. It wasn't even you who provided me the info ... you just insulted me for not being willing to work.

Let me suggest that it is you who has been lazy. If you had bothered to take any of my HOURS of calculations (hahaha, good one) seriously, you would have taken the time to read, understand and comment on them rather than just saying something to the effect of "well, that's speculation so I don't need to bother thinking about it." Simply put, you complaining about people not being willing to do their homework and actually think is laughable when you consider the amount of effort you've shown us you've been willing to put into the financial aspects of this greater discussion of what is best for our community. I haven't been trying to prove anything (even though you would claim otherwise). I've been trying to give you and others some information which may help us think about some real implications of various choices. I even gave you a link to an excel file which you could manipulate to your heart's content, giving your own "what if" scenarios a whirl.

Even if your math skills are weak you could just go to an accountant and ask for some help. Heck, Richard Margetson would be willing to help you figure this stuff out, I'm sure. So then ... where do you get off complaining that I've not done my work when you've not done your own?

Furthermore, as a technical note, I was not asking you to pre-digest anything. For you to continue to suggest this even after I pointed it out to you suggests that you seem far more interested in scoring points than in actually helping me and others get the info you refer to. Maybe I shouldn't be surprised, but I had expected more from you.

I would expect any commentator of your stature would have the integrity to not intentionally twist the words of another. If you think that you are being fair, let me know that I am offended by your choices to portray me in such a negative light when you've been given the information to know better.



Now on to the other issues you've raised.

In terms of the governor's signing statement being in legal conflict with AB2701 ... would you be so kind as to explain what you mean. After all, you're suggesting something very serious and you would, of course, not take sides on a legal issue without a good reason.

I would also suggest that to the Trib readers this information would, indeed, be news. It was only mentioned one other time in the Trib and only sewer-wonks like you I would remember. Your comment on the "subliminal message" is only partly right. The newspaper was pretty clear that getting the $6.5 paid back will be challenging because there appears to be no mechanism that would easily allow for that repayment. Second, Paavo was quite correct to state that if we need to borrow an additional $6.5M to get "cheap money", the money is no longer quite as cheap. This is something like borrowing extra to finance the points on a mortgage just to get a lower interest rate ... it's not always a good idea.

Even so, if we were to compare the SRF rate (about 2.5%) to conventional financing (about 6.5%), even if we chose to add the extra $6.5M to the amount we would borrow from the SRF, the difference in monthly bills (with 20 year term) would be about $85 ... lower. In other words, if Los Osos and the County agree to pay back the $6.5M we'll have bills that are lower. Even if the governator's requirement is illegal, if it takes a year of time to wind its way through the bureaucracy and/or courts, our payments will be higher because of the delay.

Nope, in this case, the best thing to do would be to pay our debts and get the lower bills that would result. Your nice story about the subliminal message is simply a way of telling us not to trust the Trib. That's a good point ... but to write such a column without doing your own homework first about the costs and benefits of each course of action suggests that you aren't any more trustworthy. Sure, you've got a good way of telling us to always be watching out for others who would attempt to get their way by a slanted presentation of the issues ... but I ask you ... did your own presentation have any biases? Naaaah, couldn't be.

Anonymous said...

I've always found Shark to be polite in his opinions and his information quite accurate. This is a particularly nasty response from you Ann. Could it be that the county's success in providing a workable, understandable and professional plan to this process is sticking in your craw a bit? Reason #3958234290423893 Los Osos flew over the cliff: Bitter people in the community who'll go to any lengths to discredit, mock, and insult those whose opinion does not match their own. You're part of the problem Ann. Surely not part of the solution.

4crapkiller said...

Sharky:

It is very hard for a far left, extremely biased, opinion machine to see the light and change opinion. Even with bankruptcy and loss of local control, there is no way they can change. To do so would make them look foolish to the fools that have been agreeing with their opinion all along.

You have been moderate on our sewer subject, showing both sides of possibilities. You have allowed those readers of your posts to go around a circle to define a center. I have never seen a distortion of facts or unreasonable assumptions in your posts.

Ann is another story: When she cannot back up information with facts, she witholds the whole story to support her half-truth.

When this does not work, and she is criticized for her actions, she strikes out. She is simply always left, and never wrong.

Shame!

Ron said...

Shark wrote:

"... you just insulted me for not being willing to work."

Oh, so that's who Ann was referring to. Thanks for clearing that up, Shark.

"... intentionally twist the words of another."

Straight from the master.

"I am offended by your choices to portray me in such a negative light"

Dude/Dudette, I don't know how to break this to you... but you're an anonymous poster on a blog. No one knows who you are. How can someone that's anonymous be so offended? Grow some skin, for God's sake. Ann and I get slammed on a daily basis, and you don't hear us whining about it.

To the matter at hand:

I'm almost positive, that if I had a 15-minute meeting with Governor S., Los Osos would get the SRF loan back for their sewer project, as long as that project isn't Tri-W.

Why? Because that $6.5 mil should have never been released in the first place, and I officially challenged it here.

Governor S. and I think very alike when it comes to public expenditures, and if I had the opportunity to tell him that the previous SRF loan, a loan that is supposed to be used ONLY for wastewater facilities, was also going to be used to fund a $3 - $10 million public park for Los Osos, AND that I practically begged the SWRCB's Division of Financial Assistance to withhold the first draw-down until the mitigation/park issue was cleared-up, that $6.5 mil would still be in state coffers today... AND the LOCSD would not be bankrupt today... AND there would not be a huge, expensive, California taxpayer-funded ditch in the middle of Los Osos -- a ditch that was once ESHA.

That was a HUGE, GIGANTIC, mistake by the state officials, and now they're blaming Los Osos for THEIR mistake. In Patrick Klemz's interesting New Times piece, he talks about the amount of state officials that were once involved with Los Osos, but are no longer involved, for one reason or another. One of those people, Darrin Polhemus, was with the Division of Financial Assistance. His office made the determination that the park was "mitigation" mandated by the Coastal Commission. They were wrong on that (and I was right, of course), and that cost both Los Osos, and California taxpayers dearly.

I mean it... if had just 15-minutes with the Gov., I'm damn near positive I could get the SRF loan back for a project for Los Osos, in a snap... as long as that project doesn't contain a $10 million public park.

The Gov would not be down with a state taxpayer-funded-amphitheater-in-a-sewer-plant. I'm pretty sure of that. He just doesn't know that was the case. And he also doesn't know that I challenged that $6.5 mil before they cut the check.

Shark Inlet said...

Ron,

I mentioned my offense at Ann's (seemly intentional) mischaracterization of me so that she would have the chance to apologize for her mistake. Anyone with real integrity would go back and re-think their words if offense is pointed out.

Please don't think that I don't have a relatively thick skin. There have been many her who have written far worse about me than Ann.


On your 2nd comment ... hahaha. You and the governator having similar opinions on financial matters ... that's a good one. First off, he can read a spread sheet and knows what he's talking about. Second, whether the SRF loan was squeeky clean, contianing an oversight or a huge mistake, the purpose of the SRF program is to help communities improve their water quality. It would be quite reasonable for every other community in the state to want the community of Los Osos to not get a free gift of $6.5M to spend on carpetbaggers like BWS and Wildan, firms that are only involved because the recall board is too dumb to realize that they're being taken to the cleaners. Simply put, BWS and Wildan have not done anything to improve water quality and everyone involved with the SRF money knows that it can only be spent on the TriW project.

Even so, Ron, I encourage you to set up that meeting with the governator. If you can convince him to wipe away our debt without treats to the County process, I would be very happy and I would buy you a beer or even a case becuase you would be saving my friends some $1300 each.

On the other hand, if you have to insist that the County not even consider TriW as a site ... even though they are not likely to include a park ... it would seem that you're not as much about helping our community as about stopping any project at TriW no matter the costs.

As a technical note, if the County were to adopt the TriW plan wholesale ... save the park ... they would need to go back to the CCC one more time ... but the CCC will approve the site selection if right now there are clear benefits of TriW over other sites ... and I believe there are many).

Anonymous said...

Hey, has anyone ever actaully seen Ann and Santa Margerita Ron in the same room together? I get the feeling that when I read Ann, I read Ron rather quickly thereafter. Kinda like Calhoun is the bespectacled Clark Kent, but minutes later turns into Super Sewer Ron...you know..faster than a locomotive; able to leap tall buildings in a single bound; able to get back an SRF loan from the governor in 15 minutes.

4crapkiller said...

To RON:

Go talk to the governator! You can do it boy! Save us! Become a hero!

So far all you have been is an obstructionist costing the property owners in the PZ money and causing the polution of our upper aquifer to increase because of delay.

While it is easy to nit pick, it is hard to perform. See the governator and bring back the bacon!

I am glad you have a high level of hubrus about yourself. Just do it!

Anonymous said...

I find it interesting that some of you bloggers give Ron so much credit for stopping the sewer. What about the voting behavior of the dum-dums of Los Osos? Is it easier for you to blame him or what?

Anonymous said...

Ron is nothing more than a human waste and Ann's stuck right in the same septic tank!

Shark Inlet, if you could get that ass Ron to even get an appointment, I'll have 10 cases of whatever you want delivered to your front door.

I'll make the same deal for you Ron when you come out of the meeting "...near positive I could get the SRF loan back for a project for Los Osos, in a snap... as long as that project doesn't contain a $10 million public park."

I don't even care about the park, just back up your words or are you just full of crap?

I do know both of you and where you live, the deliveries would be on your doorstep within 24 hours!

*PG-13 said...

(sigh)

Meanwhile I've been trying to divide 50,000 gallons of raw gravity flow sewage by the population of the PZ. I think a conservative guesstimate comes out to about 3.5 gallons per. Probably more. But that's not the most troublesome figure.

Now try to envision what it looks like for 15,000 people - young and old - each tossing their 3.5 gallons of sewage into the bay. Its not a pretty image. And dang, I think that would take quite a bit more time than 24 or 48 hours to complete. In fact, I'm sure it would. Over 24 hours 625 people would have to step out onto the bank each hour and sling their allotted sewage as far as they could into the bay. The logistics of getting 625 people per hour for 24 hours - each with their 3.5+ gallons of sewage - to the edge of the bay with sufficient elbow room to sling-their-shit so to speak is a sobering image. 313 people per hour over 48 hours is easier to imagine. Please re-read that last sentence. Does it scare you as much as me? No, not the numbers - not 313 people or 48 hours - but the 'easier to imagine' part. That's the part I find sick.

If that doesn't make you want to re-consider a non-centralized distributed waste water treatment system I guess nothing will. We live at the wrong end of a great, quite effective, but still natural flushing system. To think that a spill like that wouldn't have some kind of severe impact on the ecosystem we moved here to be close to is kinda insane. No, many of us moved here to actually live within it. To be a part of it. Please. Right now. Do a personal assessment for you and your family. Why exactly did you move here? And why exactly are you working so hard to stay here? It can't all be about real-estate values can it?

OK, I'm gonna get torched for this one. Much has been made about those who won't be able afford to live here any more due to the excessively high costs of a sewer. We use empathetically loaded words such as our neighbors, the elderly living on a fixed income and young families. God knows I love the unique fabric of this town. And I wish it didn't have to change. I sincerely wish it didn't have to change any more than the usual daily tidal exchange - some move out, some move in. Indeed, I might end up getting swept away myself. Bummer. But change is the only constant in our universe. And the reality is we can move away. We can move to anywhere else. But there is only one Los Osos. Only one Morro Bay. We screw this place up and, uh, where ya gonna move next? Not many Los Osos' left anymore. None that most of us can afford anyway. So we treat our environment right and design and build an environmentally sane sewer even if it means it ends up being more expensive than it might have been otherwise. Or we choose the other option, live here a few more years, mitigate our pollution until the Big Spillage whereupon we can all move to Kansas. These are the costs of living here - for an extended time or for a short time. I gotta admit, I wish they hadn't put the nuclear plant where they did. That kinda messed with the neighborhood. But putting a centralized gravity feed sewer at Tri-W is a similar accident just waiting to happen. The accident may not be quite as devastating as a nuclear accident but it could still be very devastating to the local ecosystem. To be honest I don't claim to know whether putting a standard centralized sewer at any of the other sites is all that much better. I don't know. I do believe there must be a better way.

Anonymous said...

You can thank the Sierra Club for the Diablo Canyon Location. Took years of compromise and negotiations before PG&E said they had to build it somewhere, so Sierra Club, where would you suggest? It's actually a very good locale and Nuclear is the cleanest major power generation yet. BTW, there is no such thing as nuclear waste. We just haven't found a way to make a buck out of the partially burnt material yet, but we will, it cost too much to make to just throw it away.

Now back to the LO sewer, you are correct in that there will always remain a very small probablity of an accident. It actually does not matter whether the location is Tri-W or back all the way to Bakersfield, there will always be a statistical probability of a leak. It doesn't even go away with the Ripley STEP/STEG, there will always be a possible accidental leakage possibility. The Tri-W plans actually addressed the containment of such a possibility. Ripley never put a full plan on the table.

It all comes down to what are we willing to pay for said human waste processing, we're just not evolving fast enough to eliminate the need for a waste processing system any time soon.

Along with cost, comes time to construct. Just how long is the community to wait for the perfect, most environmentally superior waste processing plant to be devised, planned and implemented?

Unless we quit producing bodily waste, we are stuck with constructing a collection and treatment process. And it appears the government authorities are not going to allow 30 more years of discussion.

Anonymous said...

Ron, 10:36 AM:

What a complete joke. You flatter yourself, as to your powers of persuasion. You couldn't persuade a man dying of thirst on the Sahara Desert, to take a drink of water.

Face it.

YOU have to be the worst person in the world, trying to persuade someone to think something or do something.

I read your blog, and all I can say is what a crock of crap. You are some sort of bizarre fanatic. You wrote some half-baked article years ago, you do not even live in Los Osos, yet you are so fixated on this community, it isn't even healthy.

Have you had a mental-health check up recently? You really need to get a life. Get a hobby. Get something else, something where you LIVE.

You are one sick puppy.

And, if you care about Los Osos (which I do not think you do) stay away from the politicians. YOU can do us more HARM than good.

Get away from my town!

Shark Inlet said...

PG,

50k gallons is about a 1500 square foot house filled halfway to the ceiling. Uck! I do have to say that the problem in AG is one of the storm drains are connected to the gravity sewer (which is quite common in older systems). The TriW gravity system would not could not have this problem. The biggest problem the system could have is a clog (rare with big pipe) or a slow leak (which would essentially be about the same as an inefficient septic system).

On your 2nd point, I value the cross section of our town as well and the environment as well. I guess I just don't see the environmental drawbacks of TriW as worse than the additional delay associated with a new project. I've supported TriW mostly because, if it's not clearly worse than the alternative, it's definitely less expensive than continued delay so as much of our diversity as possible can be preserved.

Still, a house half-full ... ugh!

Churadogs said...

Inlet Sez:"I would expect any commentator of your stature would have the integrity to not intentionally twist the words of another. If you think that you are being fair, let me know that I am offended by your choices to portray me in such a negative light when you've been given the information to know better."

I've read and reread my original posting. I clearly noted that it came from an ANONYMOUIS poster, noted the he/she designation to further indicate it's an UNKNOWN person who made these comments ANONYMOUSLY,gave no date or time when they were posted, yet you step up to claim the comments as being yours? And use your "handle?" to further identify yourself, doing so, as in, Hey everyone, Why, it's SOOOO MEEEE! And then claim you're offended?

Uhhhh, . . . . . Well, O..K. , you're free to do that, but then you need to claim the POINT, which was not personal (otherwise I would have identified the poster by his/her "handle" and noted the date of the posting for even further identification), but an example of a generic problem of too many people who want their pablum pre-digested, who refuse to get involved when it's critical they do so, folks who complain that somebody didn't go cut up the meat on the plate to make it easy to chew.

And, need I point out that apparently you also missed the part where I further noted, that that ANONYMOUS posting was " . . a perfect example of Reason # 3958234290423892 Why Los Osos Flew Off The Cliff -- Can't be bothered to get off my duff and do a little homework, do it for me, would you?" This has been a problem from day one, which was the point of the posting.

Inlet also sez: " I would expect any commentator of your stature" . . .

To which Anonymous adds,"Ron is nothing more than a human waste and Ann's stuck right in the same septic tank!"

Uh, gosh, "stature" AND "human waste." Wow, Thanks.

Inlet also sez:" It would be quite reasonable for every other community in the state to want the community of Los Osos to not get a free gift of $6.5M to spend on carpetbaggers like BWS and Wildan, firms that are only involved because the recall board is too dumb to realize that they're being taken to the cleaners."

Does anyone know how much of the $6.4M was permanently sunk into the ground before the recalled board could vote for a stand-down?

Inlet also sez:"Your nice story about the subliminal message is simply a way of telling us not to trust the Trib. That's a good point ... but to write such a column without doing your own homework first about the costs and benefits of each course of action suggests that you aren't any more trustworthy. Sure, you've got a good way of telling us to always be watching out for others who would attempt to get their way by a slanted presentation of the issues ... but I ask you ... did your own presentation have any biases? Naaaah, couldn't be."

Don't trust the Trib? Be wary of everything is more like it. As for the claim of "bias." This topic has come up before and it's clear that a lot of people don't know the difference between a reporter and a news report and an OPINION column on the OPINION PAGE of a paper. Or an OPINION BLOG. Huge difference. Opinion columns are supposed to be "biased" for one point of view or the other. Would you claim Cal THomas is not "biased?" How's about Paul Krugman? They're both "biased." Which is why they're on the OPINION page of the newspaper.

Folks who log on anonymously to comment on this blog are also expressing opinions. Are they biased? Clearly. If you read some of the postings, they're at each others' throats more time than not. Makes for some pretty amazing reading, that's for sure.

Ron said...

"Even so, Ron, I encourage you to set up that meeting with the governator. If you can convince him to wipe away our debt without treats to the County process, I would be very happy and I would buy you a beer or even a case becuase you would be saving my friends some $1300 each."

Heineken works for me.

"As a technical note, if the County were to adopt the TriW plan wholesale ... save the park ... they would need to go back to the CCC one more time"

You bet they'll have to go to the CCC one mo' time, because they would have to get them to carve up the development permit to get things like Special Condition 17 out of it. Think that'll be met with any opposition?

Anon wrote:

"Kinda like Calhoun is the bespectacled Clark Kent, but minutes later turns into Super Sewer Ron..."

You guys are funny.

Shark Inlet said...

The problem, Ann, is that you quoted my words verbatim (but with no attribution) then criticized my words in exactly the same way you did in the comments section of your previous blog entry. Anyone who has been following the discussion knows who you're talking about and knows that I had already corrected you in your earlier criticism.

Yet, you decided to make it a "front page" piece by repeating your earlier criticism without apparently having absorbed my earlier response.

You've complained in the past about selective quoting of others or some who have taken the words of another out of context to make a point. It seems that this is exactly what you've chosen to do yourself. Presumably you're justifying your choice by saying that it's okay to selectively quote from a conversation ... as long as you do it by providing pseudo-anonymity.

Let's summarize what's transpired. You say I should read some legal brief that you've not provided. I ask for you to tell me how to get hold of this document and you accuse me of being lazy. Now, just a few days later, you make a point about some anonymous poster who is so lazy that they're asking you do do their work for them. I can see your point, but certainly you should be able to see why I might have been offended.

In terms of not being bothered to do their homework, I know of only three people who did enough homework to know that the formation of a CSD was a bad idea.

Ann, did you support the formation of the CSD? Ron tells us that it was based on a lie from day one. Did you do your homework enough to warn your readers ... or are you one of those problem people you write about who couldn't be bothered to do your homework? Just wondering.

The question of whether the previous board chose to start construction or not is not relevant to the issue of whether other communities would want Los Osos to not be able to double-dip and not pay back their obligation. But if you think the question is relevant, the previous board was spending money on TriW construction which the loan allowed but the spending after the recall was on things specifically forbidden by the loan documents.

Lastly, I only realized later that you were complaining about my posting in exactly the same column where you were complaining about subtle attempts to bias folks in our community. You complaining about the lazyness of the anonymous poster (who just happens to be me and anyone who wants to figure out who it could do so easily) is a subtle way of trying to bias people into thinking the those who support TriW or those who don't support PZLDF are just plain lazy thinkers. Is the Trib the pot and you the kettle or is it the other way round? I keep forgetting.

Shark Inlet said...

Ron,

If the County goes to the CCC with a changed TriW plan (by removing the park but a completely new and thorough justification for the site) there will be opposition. Please remember that the previous opposition argument that had the most traction with the CCC was the park.

The opposition to the site will be the same people and the same arguments that were largely dismissed by CCC staff will be brought again and rejected again.

It all comes down to the County's justification for the site. If there is a substantial cost savings and environmental benefit for going with the already planned site, the CCC will see the logic and approve the site. If there is an alternative site which isn't a whole lot different in terms of the timeframe and cost they won't.

Mike Green said...

Of course all of theses arguments become insignificant if the upcomming 218 vote fails.
There is a very high hurdle ahead, lets see how high the county sets the bar.

Anonymous said...

Mike, I'm not quite sure what you mean when you say "how high the conty sets the bar." Can you clarify?

Mike Green said...

I do believe that there is a limit to what the property owners will agree to, If the 218 vote requires a (possible) payment that is higher than that, it wont pass.
Where is that limit? dunno, my guess is 300/mo.

*PG-13 said...

re: 50,000 gallons of sewer spill. The distant 4th cousin in this thread.

Anon > It actually does not matter whether the location is Tri-W or back all the way to Bakersfield, there will always be a statistical probability of a leak. It doesn't even go away with the Ripley STEP/STEG, there will always be a possible accidental leakage possibility.

Oh, if only Bfield were an option. But Kern County is no longer accepting waste from outside the county. Nope, sorry, Bakersfield is no longer an option anymore.

And yes there will always be a statistical probability of a leak. No matter which system, no matter how well designed nor how much it costs a statistical probability of failure exists. But you missed my point. A point that is well recognized and often discussed in complex system design as well as in sewer design. Failures in a distributed system - while likely to occur more often - are, by definition, much smaller. Being smaller they are easier & cheaper to correct. And easier & cheaper to clean up. Since we're talking about a seweage spill which failure would you rather have? A few small collection site failures which, properly monitored, would be recognized early and be relatively easy and cheap to correct. And clean up - if necessary. Or a large catastrophic failure - by definition and scale - which would be much costlier to correct. And even more expensive to clean up - assuming it could be cleaned up. Most major pollution failures never get cleaned up. Penalties are paid, a little clean-up is done, followed by a lot of hand-waving and posturing and claims that something like it won't happen again. But as soon as its off of page 1 economic and political realities conspire to ensure that it will indeed happen again. That is the way the system works. Accept it. Plan for it. A distributed system design is such planning. I know we've chased around this one before. Seemingly to no effect. So I'm just hollering into the wind. Still, every time a large spill occurs that should be cause to revisit this point. Maybe someday then we will get it right.

Anon > Along with cost, comes time to construct. Just how long is the community to wait for the perfect, most environmentally superior waste processing plant to be devised, planned and implemented?

Again, this has been discussed before. To no effect. A distributed system has been shown to be both faster and cheaper to implement. It also scales much much better. (read: faster, cheaper and more effectively.) Los Osos is a near text book perfect opportunity to leverage such gains. We don't need a "perfect, most environmentally superior waste processing plant". We just need some willingness to build something new instead of building something from early in the last century. (sigh) Unfortunately, bureaucrats & politicians aren't rewarded for wise decisions. They are rewarded for safe decisions. A common maxim used to be "nobody ever lost their job buying IBM". How long has it been since you heard that one? It is now more a joke than a maxim. It only has meaning for those buying computers circa 1960-80. About the time our sewer design was all the rage. So, do we continue to 'play it safe' and buy IBM and a centralized sewer? (One with no distributed on-site treatment.) Or buy something a little more up-to-date. Show of hands please, when's the last time anybody here saw IBM on a main-frame computer they were using? Oh, main-frames are so yesterday you say. Exactly my point. IBM Think-pads excepted, if you raised your hand would you make the same purchase again?

Shark Inlet > 50k gallons is about a 1500 square foot house filled halfway to the ceiling.

Oh, that image is much better. Much easier to imagine pushing a house into the bay than each of us hauling our own honey pots down to the shore.

Shark Inlet >The TriW gravity system would not could not have this problem. The biggest problem the system could have is a clog (rare with big pipe) or a slow leak (which would essentially be about the same as an inefficient septic system).

If you say so. But I'm still not convinced. Aren't all the clogs and spillage we hear about in big pipe gravity systems? And slow leaks are not easily identified in big pipe non-pressurized systems. Nor are they easily fixed if/when they finally are found. I guess I don't understand your optimism that such failures "would not could not " happen in a Tri-W gravity system.

Shark > I guess I just don't see the environmental drawbacks of TriW as worse than the additional delay associated with a new project. I've supported TriW mostly because, if it's not clearly worse than the alternative, it's definitely less expensive than continued delay ....

That's cool. I don't know either. I tend to lean toward ensuring environmental protection while you tend to lean toward minimizing costs. (Costs can almost always be recovered, the environment can seldom be recovered.) Although for this discussion I don't know that these are antagonistic perspectives. How bout we do both? Build a tertiary treatment facility at Tri-W sourced by on-site, highly effective, monitored septic tanks. I presume the collection pipes would be pressurized as that seems to better match the systems on both ends as well as being cheaper and faster to install. It seems to me this system would be faster and cheaper to build than anything else being discussed. Granted, the current Tri-W permits and plans (such as they are) might need to be modified. But I'm not sure the current plans hold water anyway. (no pun intended) Even if the county chooses Tri-W I'm betting they are going to redesign it. As noted previously failure in such a system will produce a smaller pollution problem which will be easier & cheaper to correct. And energy costs can be (should be - by law if necessary) mitigated with alternative energy. I believe O&M costs are projected to be less for such a plant. And wouldn't this pump cleaner water back into the aquafer. It also allows for some additional scaling while the current Tri-W is barely adequate for current loads. I've floated this proposal before and I'm sure it was shot down before but I can't remember what its weak points were. Could somebody please refresh my failing memory. AG exchange might be adversely effected I suppose.

re: Other News: I can't hardly wait 'till we get a sewer - any sewer - so celebrities like Naomi Campbell and Boy George can start working off their public service at our sewer!

Anonymous said...

PG-13, you seem to put a lot of "belief" in the pressurized system being less costly than the MBR Tri-W proposal. Would you mind putting some real world cost comparison figures out there for a few of us fence riders to try understanding why one system would possibly be the less costly to build.

Let's just start there, please don't confuse us with M&O costs just yet, just a simple side-by-side comparison. You can even leave out land costs to get the first part of the project costs on the table. No time to construct projections either or permits. But do include design and construction costs of the treatment facility(ies).

Just a simple starting point.

*PG-13 said...

Anon > PG-13, you seem to put a lot of "belief" in the pressurized system being less costly than the MBR Tri-W proposal. Would you mind putting some real world cost comparison figures out there for a few of us fence riders to try understanding why one system would possibly be the less costly to build.


Fair enough. But let me say right up front I make no claims to being a sewer expert. Or a sewer number cruncher. I appreciate numbers. And I love accurate or at least well-founded numbers recognizing that most numbers used to describe a Los Osos sewer option tend to be estimates approaching guesstimates. Still, fair numbers - properly attributed and well described - are better than empty cheap words. I don't claim to have such well-founded numbers. There are others on this blog who have studied the technologies and costs much more closely than I so I would appreciate their fact-based input anywhere during this discussion.

You ask to compare the costs of a pressurized system to the MBR Tri-W proposal. That's a little like comparing apples to oranges. I think it helpful if we break the comparison down into different - to some extent interchangeable - parts of the system. It seems to me we can address each of these parts somewhat independently: (1) the collection system, (2) the treatment process resulting in, (3) a specific waste-water end-product which is then (4) put back into the aquifer (or otherwise exchanged in such a manner as to effectively recharge the aquifer). I appreciate these elements aren't perfectly interchangeable but let's start there.

As I started to put the rest of this response together I realize it is a big ticket effort. Far bigger than I can provide right now while doing it justice. So yeah, for now I am responding with still more empty words. But let me say, I am working on it. I don't know when I will have adequate numbers to answer you properly. If ever. But putting them together has been something I've been wanting to do so I'll try to get back to this thread as soon as I can. Until then let me offer up these admittedly non-numeric comments. And ask if anybody has numbers for any of these elements for any of the proposed design options? Somebody should at least be able to supply numbers for these elements for the Tri-W plan. TIA.

The Collection System: Its my understanding the Tri-W sewer could collect effluent using either a pressurized or gravity collection system. It could even use some combination of the two but that is needlessly complex and expensive. I believe installing pressurized returns is cheaper because the pipes are smaller, don't have to be buried as deeply and can be buried using a significantly faster and easier installation technique. Because of all of these the time to install the system is significantly less and is far less intrusive to the community. Simply put the collection grid is more straightforward to design; easier, faster and cheaper to install; easier and cheaper to maintain; and (as noted previously) easier to monitor for leaks and faster and cheaper to correct leaks when they are found. But sorry, I don't have numbers to quantify any of these cost points. I'm sure there are others who do. Anybody have attributable numbers that can be plugged in for any of these elements? For gravity and/or pressure collection systems?

The Treatment Process: For the waste water treatment system I described above the treatment process occurs at two different places in the system. The first stage treatment occurs on-site in a managed, monitored septic tank. The septic tank sources pre-treated effluent into the grid thus displacing a huge amount of the septic load on the collection system and the centralized WWTF resulting in cost savings for the rest of the system. Again, I don't have numbers for how much this part of the system will cost and/or how much using this strategy will decrease the cost of the collection system and the centralized treatment facility. I've heard estimates of $15,000 per tank to up-grade a well performing tank to twice that to install a new tank and treatment mechanism. Whether initial installation costs for inspecting each septic tank and upgrading those needing to be upgraded in order to support the in-septic treatment mechanism is borne totally or in-part by the each property owner is an important line item in the system costs. Important note; bringing these tanks on-line can be done in parallel with the rest of the system construction thereby getting the whole system up and running faster than following a more linear construction schedule. This also minimizes on-going pollution over the course of years bringing the system on-line. Not sure what that's worth in dollars but that in itself should satiate the RWQCB and their CDO appetite.

In this model the centralized treatment facility looks different than the MBR Tri-W proposal. I've gotta go back an analyze how down-sizing the septic load on the facility might decrease the cost of building the Tri-W MBR plant. Anybody? I recall that using MBR was a key aspect to the small Tri-W footprint which might not translate well to this other option. Also, how do you put dollars and cents to facilities that represent significantly different environmental hazards?

Waste Water End Product: This too is going to involve some apple/orange adjustments as the product of the Tri-W MBR facility isn't as clean as the proposed effluent from the distributed system option. At some point we've gotta decide just what kind of effluent we want to put back into the acquirer. I think the Tri-W project cheated on this but if that is where the bar is set so be it. But what if we reset the bar? Is it too late to want to put the cleanest possible water back into the water we drink? At what cost? And has the proposed Tri-W effluent actually passed muster? I've heard different opinions on that.

Recharge: I still like the idea of AG exchange and providing the growers with a valuable product - it is such a sensible solution - but can it be used in qualifying and quantifying a system design? And does the cost of delivering that product have to be borne by the WWTF or can it be accounted as a profit center for the plan? Regardless, the Tri-W recharge strategy - albeit full of still unanswered questions - could be used for either plan. Although its questionable capacity would benefit from any AG exchange relief.

I would appreciate any numeric help anybody cares to provide in putting this together. As previously noted I'm not anti-Tri-W as much as I am pro-Any-Better-Solution. I've not got an axe to grind against Tri-W other than I wish its process was cleaner. And that there had been at least one other fully analyzed option to measure it against.

Anonymous said...

March 21, 2007

NOTICE OF VIOLATION OF SEPTIC SYSTEM DISCHARGE PROHIBITION AT [SITE
ADDRESS], LOS OSOS/BAYWOOD PARK, SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY
In 1983, the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board adopted a prohibition of all
new and existing septic system discharges in an area known as the Los Osos/Baywood Park
prohibition zone. The prohibition is based on substantial evidence that septic systems harm
water quality and public health Ongoing monitoring shows that water quality and public health
continue to be threatened by septic system discharges.
The Water Boards’ mission includes enforcing the laws and regulations designed to protect and
enhance water quality and its uses (water supply, recreation, and shellfishing, for example).
Although property owners and occupants (including tenants) are ultimately responsible for their
septic system discharges, the Water Board has not previously enforced the prohibition against
individual property owners and occupants because your local governments, San Luis Obispo
County and the Los Osos Community Services District, were making progress towards building
a community wastewater system to replace individual septic systems. Unfortunately, a
community wastewater system has not yet been built. In light of this, we are now enforcing the
prohibition against all individual property owners and occupants in the Los Osos/Baywood Park
prohibition zone.
Our records show that you own and/or occupy improved property at the address, within the
prohibition zone. Since there is not a community wastewater system available to your property,
we conclude that your property has a septic system that discharges waste 1 within the prohibition
zone. You are hereby notified that your septic system discharge violates State law and
you are subject to further enforcement.
San Luis Obispo County, through the process provided by Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee’s
special legislation (AB 2701), has begun planning, designing, and building a community
wastewater collection and treatment system. The Water Board supports the County and
considers a community system to be the most feasible solution to the septic system prohibition.
We hope that this process will succeed. However, because this process is in its beginning stages and faces significant hurdles, Water Board staff is continuing with individual enforcement
of the septic system prohibition.
The Water Board began enforcement by issuing cease and desist orders to a group of
individuals in the prohibition zone. If the Water Board were to issue you a cease and desist
order, it would require you to hook up to a community wastewater system within 60 days of its
availability, whenever that is, or otherwise cease discharging in violation of the prohibition.
However, if the County’s wastewater project does not proceed and fails to meet certain
milestones, including approval of a benefits assessment (i.e., special tax to pay for part of the
community wastewater system), then you would have to eliminate your septic system discharge
by January 1, 2011. To ensure your septic system remains functional until the community
wastewater system is available, the cease and desist order would require you to have your
septic system pumped out and inspected by a qualified contractor and repaired if necessary. As
long as the County’s community wastewater project proceeds, the cease and desist order would
not require any action on your part, other than this standard maintenance, until a community
wastewater system connection is available.
Several parties have agreed to a settlement instead of the cease and desist order and its
hearing process. The settlement agreement requirements are almost the same as those in the
cease and desist order, except that we have agreed to meet and negotiate with the parties
before we issue any violations of the settlement agreement requirements. No negotiations are
required by the cease and desist orders.
Several parties have expressed concern that this process is too slow. We are exploring other
forms of enforcement to address these concerns. We will be notifying you of this enforcement
process by separate letter in the coming months.
The Water Board will continue working with the County to deliver a viable community
wastewater system as soon as possible. If the County builds a community wastewater system
as contemplated by AB 2701, and you connect your property to the system, then you will
comply with the prohibition and avoid further enforcement.
If you are interested in the documents related to the prohibition zone and individual enforcement
action, you may review them at the letterhead address during normal business hours, or online
at: http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/centralcoast/los%20osos/Index.htm. If you have questions,
you may contact Water Board staff Matt Thompson at (805) 5493159,
or by email at
mthompson@waterboards.ca.gov. Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Sincerely,
ORIGINAL SIGNED BY
Harvey C. Packard
Prosecution Team Lead

Anonymous said...

So pg-13, by your last post with so little fact but many more questions, you seem have arrived at your present beliefs from heresay not fact, as to the type of collection and treatment systems that are best. You sound open to opinion change if fact proves something else. You are obviously very intelligent and STILL have an open mind. In you and those of similar mind lies our hope for Los Osos.

You might be interested to know that Paavo has said that the capital costs of step are cheaper, but that the O & M costs are more expensive than gravity. This was from one of those bi-monthly Bruce Gibson meetings at Washington Mutual, altho this meeting was held at SBCC.

The ag exchange thing would work depending on how much of the farm land out of town actually uses water from our aquifer. There is conflictiing information on this. So their NOT drawing on it and putting exchange water back in may or may not be helpful.

The peer review of the Ripley Report also stated that ag exchange may not get farmer buy-in in a timely manner, so other land (in or out of the basin?) would need to be purchased or leased to spray, plus some de-nitrification of the water may be required anyway. Numbers can't be put to this yet. Or if it doesn't make the fine cut with the County process, it doesn't matter.

Broderson is still on the table, regardless of plant sites, according to Paavo.

There are so many unanswered questions, it would behoove all of us to take a deep breath and wait to see what the County process brings us. Then decide.

I guess all I would say is to attend the bi-monthly meetings. Much information that comes out there takes much longer to "hit the streets." The County has stepped out, neck on line, and has been very open with the process. We all should take advantage of learning something new, or confirming what we guessed to be true.

*PG-13 said...

Anon > So pg-13, by your last post with so little fact but many more questions, you seem have arrived at your present beliefs from heresay not fact, ...

Yeah. Sort of. But that sounds so tacky. I won't deny I wish I had more facts to support my words. But facts seem in terribly short supply in Los Osos. I'm not the only one lacking sufficient facts.

> ... as to the type of collection and treatment systems that are best.

The fact that this is still being discussed and so many facts are still so not available suggests I'm not the only one. And the fact that so many unanswered questions can still be asked suggests something seriously wrong in the process. My opinions are not set and I am open to change if I just had some fact-based answers to many of these questions. And I just don't understand how we can build a community sewer with so many loose ends still dangling. Doesn't somebody owe us these answers? Don't we owe it to ourselves to get these answers?

Anon > You might be interested to know that Paavo has said that the capital costs of step are cheaper, but that the O & M costs are more expensive than gravity.

Yeah, its hard to beat the cost of gravity to move sh** around. Per the request I was responding to O&M costs were purposefully removed from this discussion. Eventually they do need to be considered though. But even for this I think it helps to look at the individual components: Operations versus Maintenance. There are pumping costs associated with a pressurized system. Not huge amounts though and some part of it is borne by the individual users. As is the maintenance of the distributed front-end of the collection system. I believe it is a documented fact (although I can't footnote it nor can I quantify it) that maintenance-over-time is cheaper for pressure than gravity.

> There is conflictiing information on this. ...... Numbers can't be put to this yet. ...... There are so many unanswered questions, it would behoove all of us to take a deep breath and wait to see what the County process brings us.

I totally agree. I suppose my natural inclination to want to get some facts and find some answers and continue to discuss things sewer is similar to the other major threads in these comments - its all a big to do about nothing important. It has no meaning. Its just a bad habit we're all going to have to break. The county is going to do their thing, propose their thing and we are going to vote on some thing. So there you have it. Even facts and numbers are no longer important. Although I hope the county still considers them so.

Anonymous said...

PG-13 said,
"There are pumping costs associated with a pressurized system. Not huge amounts though and some part of it is borne by the individual users. As is the maintenance of the distributed front-end of the collection system."

By the "distributed front end" do you mean the septic tank and electric pump? If so, the pump maintenance was to be covered by the CSD, the electricity to be paid for by the homeowner according to Ripley. He is right about the CSD needing to maintain control. I wouldn't trust homeowners to maintain anything. Look at all the failing leach fields and tanks that have never been pumped. His idea was to have it all wireless with the central office picking up problems and one guy in one truck dispatched to fix the problems. I wasn't too convinced about the one guy in a pick-up, however.

(As a first time septic owner myself, this house didn't come with a manual on how it works or what to do with it. The water heater has more instructions! I know more about forced air heaters! If the leach field failed and I didn't know the proper intervals to pump, or was too broke to pump - therefore no pumping and inspection - until it burbled abouve ground, and I live on a hill - how would I even know? Expecting homeowner compliance in a community where people can't even afford to pump, is not workable.)

I think more to the point are the right-of-way issues, which Ripley brushed aside. Check out the article by Elizabeth Dietzmann, J.D. in the Winter 2006 Small Flows quarterly. Part II is found here:

http://www.nesc.wvu.edu/NSFC/Articles/SFQ/
SFQ_sp06/legal.pdf

Food for thought.

Source of Rain said...

SharkInlet,

I sought responses from Dana Ripley to your comments/questions regarding Tri-W costs vs. out of town, gravity costs v. STEP/STEG. Here in Part 1 are your comments/questions. You'll find Ripley's responses in Part 2 following this.

First your comments:

1. [Anon] wrote (in part) about TriW that "it's not sustainable OR affordable and won't clean water for decades if ever."

Presumably you've got a cheaper and better way of reducing the nitrate loadings on our aquifer.

Maybe it is my fault for not reading here very often, but I don't know of any such methods. Certainly the Ripley team didn't come up with any that are guaranteed to work any better and certainly once inflation and changes in design requirements (for example, increasing the size of the plant to correspond with actual wastewater production) is factored in, the Ripley cost greatly exceeeds TriW.

2. Several people at that time were able to show that many aspects of the Ripley report were quite stacked. For example, if a Ripley plan would take some three years more than TriW before construction could start, the inflation on the construction costs essentially would drive up the cost by about 25%. More delay, more money.

Additional issues would appear to be that the Ripley system won't meet the real needs of our town (if I remember, they allowed for 50 gallons per person per day, about 1/3 the current usage). Furthermore, even if the Ag-exchange (in-lieu recharge) idea were to work, it would be hard to get enough Ag use where the farmers were drawing from our aquifer. There's also the denitrification issue. If we can't get all our water used by farmers directly above our aquifer, we'll need to denitrify the remaining water and recharge the aquifer directly at a site like Broderson.

Don't get me wrong ... I like the Ripley idea and think he's done a great job thinking outside the traditional sewer box. The problem is that many aspects of the solution he came up with just won't work so well for Los Osos with our unique requirements.

If you want to believe that raising these issues is electioneering, fine. It would be great if you would be willing to address the issues so that I can re-think my position if you show me to be wrong.

3. You write (in part): "Again, however, you persist, as do others of your mindset, in believing, incorrectly, that Tri-W has any relevance to this conversation. Knowing Tri-W fails almost every other vital criteria, you have chosen to make your last stand on economics -- the 'Time and Money' argument."

To argue that TriW is irrelevant before the County has made that determination is a bit hasty, don't you think?

I would also say that I am not making my last stand on economics ... it was my first stand. There are many other aspects of my point of view which I haven't emphasized ... by-n-large I just don't care a ton about the other issues as much.

"The 'Town and Money' argument fizzles when compared to the huge life-cycle savings of Ripley/Orenco. The dollar difference is simply too profound to ignore, as are the social impacts on the community between a $200 million sewer (as published in the Trv) and just about anything else you can name."

The lifecycle costing approach is a sound one to determine which is the best long run project. The financing costs swamp every other cost we're talking about save the cost of putting in the pipe. In particular, a change in the interest rate from 2.5% to 6.5% (if we can't get a SRF for example) will matter more than difference in O&M between the TriW plant and any other possible option.

Last Summer (again, shortly after the Ripley plan came out) I did some quick calculations about the energy savings they claimed to achieve. These savings were not enough to justify spending more than about an additional $0-15M (before financing ... depending on the inflation in energy costs compared to the CPI and the interest rate we get). Don't trust these numbers, however, because they are based on my memory and I don't have a copy handy. The point, however, should be well taken.

The key here is that the energy savings that are key to Ripley's plan aren't that big of a deal if it costs us much more up front to get those savings down the road. It would be sort of like borrowing money to put in a solar electricity system in Los Osos. For some the principal and interest associated with the borrowing would more than swamp any energy savings for the next 15-20 years.

Following are Dana Ripley's responses...

Source of Rain said...

SharkInlet,

Here are Dana Ripley's responses to your comments/questions. Hopefully they will give you some new religion. I offer them in the spirit of cooperation and the free exchange of information.

Dana Ripley:

1. Our analysis (see Report Update, Executive Summary on CSD website) indicates the reverse, that the Update Plan, both in capital costs and ongoing costs is cheaper. What is not revealed in the analysis, however, is the absence of reverse osmosis/advanced oxidation (RO/AO) in the Tri-W/Broderson design. I wrote in November 2003 that the Broderson dispersal plan was in fact recharge of the shallow aquifer which by all accounts is a municipal groundwater source and that the State groundwater recharge reuse regulations would apply. This point was confirmed by the NWRI report in December 2006. The prior design team, in my opinion, had every intention of including the RO/AO process at Tri-W as a subsequent project (as required by state recharge reuse guidelines), however it was never included in the project report as a necessary or contingent treatment step, and it was never included in any analysis of alternatives. This was an obvious and improper deferral of a required component of the system, that if was appropriately considered in the beginning – would have made the Broderson dispersal plan so prohibitively expensive (and energy intensive) that the effluent plan would have been forced east to the agricultural areas in 2000 or 2001. District Engineer Rob Miller indicated to the NWRI panel in November 2006 that a $3 million pipeline (from Tri-W to the east ag areas) was yet another contingent project that was not included in the project report and was not in the project budget. If the RO/AO plan and/or the $3 million pipeline are/is included now in a side-by-side comparison, the cost differences would be even (substantially) greater than what we presented in the Executive Summary. As a final note on this topic, it is my personal speculation that this deferral of necessary system components (that were not included in the March 7, 2001 final wastewater facilities report by MWH) was in fact the reason why MWH project engineer Steve Hyland, or any other MWH registered engineer, refused to certify the final report in March 2001 as required by state law (Business and Professions Code § 6735). FYI, attached [in email to Source of Rain] is a copy of the title page of the final facilities report that lacks an engineer’s certification stamp or seal.

2. We believe that if our team is authorized quickly, that the compliance deadlines can be met, and would in fact probably beat the completion date of the Tri-W/gravity collection restart project. We believe that the County’s consultant team now realizes (based on the NWRI finding) that the RO/AO treatment process cannot be deferred and is the reason why County staff is now stating that the project cost is “$200 million or more.” This figure is 2 ½ times the Update project cost – so any delay now to get this right is probably time well spent. The 50 gallons per capita per day (gpcd) compares to 70 gpcd used in the MWH report, and is the statewide goal by the Department of Water Resources for interior residential water demand (which is equivalent to wastewater generation). Regarding “if ag exchange idea were to work” take a look at attachments regarding the North Sonoma County Agricultural Water Reuse Project. This is much larger than the LO ag reuse project but demonstrates how other California communities are dealing with similar issues. We see denitrification as a non-issue, and the NWRI agreed with us. We advocate smart nutrient management as opposed to strict end-of-pipe effluent limits that are necessary for direct groundwater recharge. In fact, I would personally consider the 7 mg/l total nitrogen limit for Broderson dispersal to be too lenient, it should be less than 1 mg/l for direct recharge of a potable aquifer. And that low N effluent quality is achievable reliably only with the RO/AO process that should be included anyway. With respect to the “unique requirements of Los Osos” it is our belief that the Update plan is perfectly suited to the unique requirements of LO, and that the Tri-W/gravity collection plan is not well suited at all to these unique requirements. Our comments here are not electioneering, but simply facts based on our professional judgment.

3. Time and money issues are of paramount interest to our team. First, we believe that the AB 2701 process timeline is far too long, and the $2 million budget is about 4 times what it should be to accomplish the TAC evaluation of alternatives. Given the fixed CDO deadline of January 1, 2011 – time is precious and it appears that no real project advancement will happen in 2007, unfortunately. It is now near the end of March, and what has happened so far besides colorful mailers? With respect to loan costs, we need a side-by-side comparison of the SRF reauthorization and the private finance option. Even though the SRF interest rate is lower, the conditions and points (eg. $6 million prior disbursement), coupled with >$100 million savings in capital costs, may make the interest rate a minor factor in the overall cost to the ratepayer. We think the energy savings are a significant consideration also. We have met with PG&E on this, and there will be an incentive check from the utility for using the more efficient system. We will working with the PG&E-SLO office to quantify what the incentive amount will be – but rest assured that the utility is under significant pressure from both the public and the CPUC to get wastewater utilities to reduce power demands. The global climate change issues are real, and PG&E is getting very, very aggressive on energy efficiency in the water/wastewater treatment sector of the state economy. PG&E estimates that wastewater treatment alone consumes over 1% of the state’s power demand. Our Tech Memo #8 estimates that the Update plan will consume about one third the power of the Tri-W/gravity collection plan, and this relative amount will of course decrease with the addition of RO/AO after the MBR plant. The energy intensity of wastewater treatment at Tri-W could easily double with the addition of RO/AO.

Thank you, SharkInlet, for asking good questions and allowing me to seek answers from the source. Never be afraid to ask unless you're afraid to know.

Source of Rain

Anonymous said...

Thank you Ripley for your answer to the questions. I hope you give all of your information to the county, because it will be the county engineers that decide the issue.

Why did you not include the information submitted above with your proposal as a matter of record to the LOCSD, instead of going for a low ball on the system that you submitted previously?

Now you can believe anything what you want, but are you prepared to produce a completion bond to satisfy the time requirements? Are you also able to purchase insurance to indemnify the property owners or county if your system does not perform properly? Talk to the county!

Anonymous said...

I don't get it. We have to pay back the $6.5 million anyway (unless you listen to the nut cases). Wouldn't it be easier and cheaper to roll it into a new loan? Oh, since we have to pay back something on the contractors claims, and all the other claims in the bankruptcy, I guess we will be writing a separate check anyway…