Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Santa’s Coming To Town, So Ya Better Not Frown For One Hour

The Tribune reports that Congressman Pete Visclosky, D-Ind, will be coming to Los Osos to tour our fine burg from 2 - 3 p.m. on Thursday, April 12th. “He is expected to meet with county officials and members of the state and regional water boards, and tour Los Osos. . . . . State Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee . . . county Supervisor Bruce Gibson, and a representative from a state loan program are also expected to attend,” says the Trib.

Since it was studiously unmentioned, I presume that official representatives from Los Osos itself, you know, like the president of the CSD, for example, have NOT been invited.

Since the meeting is about lobbying the Congressman, who chairs a house committee that funds water projects in hopes that some federal dollars will be allocated “under the Water Resources Development Act” to help pay for the Los Osos sewer, a project that will impact everyone in Los Osos, why should anyone from the elected board of the CSD be invited?

Well, let’s hope Mr. Visclosky pays close attention to the words “water,” and keeps a strong focus on the words “affordability,” during his one hour tour as well. You can be sure that that unnamed “representative from a state loan program” (wink, nudge, wink, nudge) will be at his elbow, whispering, “Put out the cat. . . puuutttt outtt the $6.5 million caaaattttt…”

TAC Comments Over the Transom

The following comments are by Tom Ruehr, Cal Poly soil scientist, on the work done by the TAC that is in their recent preliminary rough screening report. Dr. Ruehr has been involved with various sewer TACs over the years and, as made clear from some of his comments, is seeing familiar problems and issues crop up again in this TAC report. Hopefully, his comments will be considered by the TAC and the County as they move ahead with this process. And will be considered by the citizens as well, since many of these concerns are familiar ones.

Los Osos TAC Report Comments by Tom Ruehr March 30 through April 8, 2007

Major concern for not recharging the lower aquifer. Probably no sewer system will be able to do this. We will continue to lose water to Morro Bay. This remains a serious deficiency in terms of water management. We must insure we do not connect to the state water. We must prevent connecting to Lake Naciamiento water. This water contains sufficient mercury (even when it is below the mercury detection limit) to contain millions to billions of atoms of mercury in each gallon of water.

Using the recycled water through ag exchange will help to reduce the total water pumped from the lower aquifer. Water management in terms of deep aquifer recharge is critical and can not be solved by this sewer. However, we need to insure any results of the sewer will not make the potential for deep water recharge any worse.

Ironically, the RWQCB is so concerned about nitrate and potential “pollution” eventually no water will exist to become polluted unless they change their focus from contamination to recycling and retention of useful water.

I am pleased they have finally started looking down at the end of the process first (disposal and recharge) and working backward to how to collect the sewage. This is one reason previous studies have missed the major problems. They looked too closely only on collection.

I believe we must try as much as possible to prevent any use of the State Revolving Fund monies. I believe we can have access to private funding. It will cost not much more than the state funding. Most importantly, we will be able to insure we can have a sewer with the least amount of cost overrides if we reject using the SRF. With the SRF and an early 218 vote, we will very likely end with buying a pig in a poke. By this I mean the sewer installation companies will continually increase the costs and the total cost will be a continuously changing number, mainly because they have ignored the problems encountered with water recharge and biosolids processing.

The RWQCB has continuously changed their criteria. The major past problem has been their absolute stupidity of rejecting all science and technology developed within the past 25 years. They have been excessively wedded only to multinational sewer companies providing sewer systems for cities of 2 million people. These processes are not appropriate for small communities of 20,000 people.

Many amazing technologies have recently been developed with much superior and effective water processing in the past few years. Within the past decade a major mindset change has occurred. This new mindset essentially argues previous massive sewer installations should be avoided because of the serious problems (long term they create) and the realization smaller is more efficient, effective with lower long term maintenance and providing better water quality at a much lower treatment cost.
Be aware of the previous bait and switch process. They allow the TAC to develop many useful ideas. Then at the very last minute, all previous work is negated by claiming many “fatal flaws” resulting in all previous work having no value. Consequently, only the new ideas with no opportunity to evaluate their impacts publically are forced upon the community. This has occurred several times in the past in Los Osos.

The County and the RWQCB has ignored the nature of the people in Los Osos. For many years they assumed the community was full of dissidents only interested in trying to prevent having a sewer. Los Osos contains the most highly educated people per 1000 individuals between Monterey and Ventura. The reality is they do not want to pay for a non-functioning sewer rat hole with the obvious escalating costs associated with problems poorly examined (as was the recharge at the Broderson site for example).

The recharge site proposal for the Broderson site and Tri W was about 100 to 1000 times the actual water application rate which could be allowed. The County engineering and the RWQCB signed off indicating they accepted these rates. This was a major professional mistake. This is a fatal flaw regarding the recharge process. Because the County engineering and the RWQCCB signed off and approved this improper rate, we can not trust them fully to look out for the welfare the Los Osos residents. They are not considering all of the factors, only those which will make the sewer cost the most.

The RWQCB will be making more money in the form of monitoring the Los Osos wastewater situation in the future. The larger the plant, the more money will be coming to the RWQQCB. Consequently, they have a vested interest in forcing Los Osos to have the most expensive sewer possible. This helps to explain their zeal for approving anything in Los Osos regardless of whether it works or protects the overall water quality.

What is needed is not slick covered fancy multiple color brochures. They need to provide a clearly reasoned comparison step wide of why each option was chosen and why each other alternative was rejected. The people of Los Osos do not want to spend more money on glitz, they want more solid clearly argued thinking with more effective and assured results for these steps in the sewer process.

Page TS-3 estimate of 65 gallons per capita per day seems low, previous values were closer to 75 to 80. I hope they are correct with this new value.

Table TS 1 is critical to understand. The BOD loading with the conventional system is the reason for the excessive cost for grinding pumps and water flow compared to using the septic tank as a distinct part of the total treatment process. The BOD with STEP can be reduced nearly 3 fold. This means the treatment plant has a much better chance to process the waste water.

The conventional sewer processes this high BOD sewage so fast it results in a much greater mass of biosolids than will be generated with the STEP system even when the septic tank pumping added to the total process. In general, the faster sewage is processed at any central processing plant, the more total tons of biosolids which will be produced.

The County refuses to see all aspects of water for Los Osos (as the Blue Ribbon Comm.) was charged to do a decade and a half ago. We must drastically reduce the total mass of rain water runoff by installing holding basins (possibly underground) and provide for carbon filtration to remove oils from highway surface interactions of this runoff water and reuse of this water currently lost. We must harvest the water from the upper aquifer and use this wherever possible. This will greatly reduce the total water lost from the community into Morro Bay.

We must be much more serious about sea water intrusion. This is what I mean by looking at the end of the process first. Again, this report seems to have ignored how to prevent the sea water intrusion. Without addressing these points, the total value of the sewer is completely negated.

It is absolutely critical to establish an on site treatment process for biosolids treatment. We must have an effective means for aerobic composting and total biosolids biomass reduction on site. It will be essential to provide some clear process of utilization and beneficial processing of the biosolids. The metals content should be quite low and fortunately additional toxic chemicals are usually quite low in Los Osos.

A serious consideration is the presence of pharmaceutical and personal care products. These are not being processed during the conventional sewage treatment process. Releasing these products in the treated water will have very adverse conditions. For example, birth control medications will pass through the water and will eventually place all residence on birth control when they drink this recycled water. It is not certain whether soil filtration of these products will result in the elimination of these products.

In addition to birth control products, other serious considerations are the possible body elimination of major anti-cancer medications. Fragrances and antibiotics will present major problems. If we begin drinking treated waste water even after passage through soil will probably result in converting the citizens of Los Osos into a huge guinea pig experiment where they will be exposed to the potential transfer of the antibiotic resistance genes being transferred to people. If this occurs, the health of all individuals in the community will be seriously threatened because physicians will have no alternative during the critical process of administering life saving medications when the current antibiotics are no longer effective due to the people possessing these antibiotic resistance genes.

Table TS 2 These considerations suggest we must use disinfected tertiary treated waste water plus a much more intense treatment with Ultra Violet light and possibly hydrogen peroxide. Chlorine should be avoided because the addition of chlorine gas results in uncontrolled organic chemical reactions creating organic chlorine compounds which increasingly are seen as suspected cancer causing agents.
A consideration for ag exchange is what the RWQCB considers being inside the basin. In the past, this has created problems. The Los Osos valley for about 6 miles to the east is part of this basin. Don Asquith has helped to continue to confuse people about this problem.

Percolation ponds should be avoided. Maintaining constant saturated water over the soil results in microbes forming slimes which eventually clog the soil pores and greatly reduce the total rate of water infiltration and percolation over time. This is under appreciated. This problem will magnify if only secondary water is used for the infiltration percolation ponds. Only the highest level of water treatment should be used for this purpose. Loading rates should allow at least one full day of complete drainage before adding more water.

Leach fields should not be used for disposal of any other than the highest quality of treated waste water. Secondary waste water will eventually clog due to the many lamellae in the sand dunes. This eventually will plug up the soil pores.

Creek discharge must be prevented. A constructed terminal wetland might work. However, the proximity to the sea level and the fog will mean this system will not be able to work optimally.

Table TS 3 Energy use has been played down by past proposals. Most of the conventional sewage treatment processes are extremely energy intensive, especially for electricity to move the water around. Other systems are much less energy intensive. Past considerations suggested we would have to have a complete dedicated electrical line directly to the treatment plant and this may not be enough for a conventional sewer. An excessive energy cost should be considered as a fatal flaw for any high energy proposal. This is especially true for future increases in energy costs.

The treatment site location must consider what I consider a fatal flaw from the human health perspective. Because of the persistent fog, any viruses entrapped in the air due to movement of the sewage and wastewater will result in a major down wind direction effect of contaminating residents close to the treatment facility. This effect is well know in the wastewater community where sewage treatment personnel are often fairly sick for the first several years until they become immune through previous exposure to these various viruses and microbes. However, the problem is much more serious for susceptible individuals (infants, elderly and those with a compromised immune system). Ideally, the treatment facility should be completely inclosed and all air leaving the facility should be treated with UV radiation to reduce the possibility of this happening in Los Osos.

Oxidation ditch, trickling filters and ponds have the same problem as identified in the previous paragraph. However, ponds may be a great idea for the purpose of removing phosphate by encouraging algal growth to remove both phosphate and some nitrate. I do not see any other treatment consideration which can assist in removing the phosphate. Phosphate contamination of Morro Bay is one of the primary reasons for the decrease in water quality to Morro Bay. Once the local sand dunes become saturated with phosphate, any additional phosphate from waste water treatment will move directly into Morro Bay regardless of whatever treatment process is used, unless algal treatment is added to the process.

Class A biosolids must be generated. Then these biosolids must be further composted aerobically ideally for over 6 months to a year on sight. This might most effectively be achieved by mixing the biosolids with green waste. This will greatly enhance degradation by providing more nutrients, more water holding ability, more aeration and more rapid degradation. The resulting composted material could be used for erosion control and other purposes, including crops harvested with a protective cover (corn, wheat, etc.) but can not be used for root crop production.

Biosolids composting must emphasize vertical processing to enhance aeration and improved microbial degradation rather than the traditional horizontal processing only. Soil inoculation should be considered to insure these systems work optimally. Inclusion of rice hulls and straw will most likely greatly enhance the rate and quality of composting.

My suggested best location is the land just south of Los Osos Valley Road across from Turri Road and to the east for until the next home is encountered. This land has a slight elevation, has higher clay content for water filtration, allows for wells down hill being able to obtain the ground water for reuse. The closer the site is to Morro Bay water, the less effective it will be overall. Any site north of Los Osos Valley Road east of Turri Road has a problem of being dominated by serpentine soils and this will greatly reduce the effectiveness for waste water remediation (clean up).

I appreciate the emphasis upon using less productive soil sites. This is fine for the treatment plant site, but the waste water application soils should have an adequate amount of silt and clay to allow for both adsorption of phosphate and metals, plus the microbial soil community allowing the microbes to decompose the organic components in the waste water including potentially decomposing the pharmaceutical and personal care products.

It might be good to explore John Alexander’s electrical agglomeration process. This will reduce metals and potentially may enhance the water quality prior to the water entering into the treatment process. John is a recognized engineer who has been ignored by most of these sewer people. He is a local resident (Cayucos) and has a patented process we should at least consider for the potential benefit to residents of Los Osos.

The best site location for the treatment facility is north of the cemetery where the plant can be primarily hidden by the topography. This will reduce virus spreading to the eastward (down wind and has much less fog).

The best site for application of the waste water is on locations with more clay than in most of the sand dunes area. The land south of Los Osos Valley Road between the creek valley to the land south of Turri Road is mostly sandy loam soil which is only moderately effective for potential microbial decomposition. Application of the waste water onto the sand dunes should be avoided because of the presence of the lamellae which prevent the effective water treatment and prevent an adequate rate of water infiltration and percolation with a maximum rate of microbial decomposition (which is low in sand dunes and sandy loam soils).

Conventional gravity collection will cause several major problems. First, the large diameter pipes will leak sewage downward into the soil below each leak. This will result in many uncontrolled leaks. This will provide non-treated nitrate, phosphate, and pathogens to the soil and enhance contamination within the collection zone. Second, these large diameter pipes will leak inward meaning in zones closes to the sea level, sea water will move into these pipes. Any sea water leakage into these large diameter pipes will have two effects. The sea salts will strongly inhibit the microbial decomposition in the treatment plant. More importantly, these sea salts will prevent this water from being used as a water source for humans. This is absolutely to be prevented under all circumstances. This is a fatal flaw for the collection system. Ironically, the RWQCB approved of the Tri W collection process because it does not care about this problem of sea water quality deterioration of the collected waste water because of its excessive zeal for the most expensive sewer being installed in Los Osos. So much for the RWQCB’s true concerns over water quality for Los Osos.

Another fatal flow is the major deep soil disturbance due to installation of the large diameter pipes. This process will cause disturbance at several major locations going from high on the hillside on the south downward towards the bay to the north. The problem is this will greatly increase the problems of soil erosion when water concentrates moving down the streets oriented north to south. If any of these streets leaks water, it will result in major outwash of the soil along the route of the sewer lines. In addition, in the event of an earthquake, this may greatly increase the probability of structural damage in homes because the stability of soil can never be returned to the original stability after such a deep soil disturbance. This situation will decrease over time after the sewer is installed, but it will never go away with the number and degree of deep digging actions in this vicinity.

STEP, vacuum and low pressure allow much faster response to leakage problems and other difficulties because it has much better monitoring. The greatly improved methods of installing small diameter pipe with minimal soil disturbance avoids much of the problems identified in the previous paragraph.

Although concerns about access to private property is a concern with septic tanks in place, all home owners need to understand what the trade off is in costs. The costs for not having a septic tank and not having access to inspect these tanks results in more than double the overall cost of the sewer. Some very wealthy people will not feel this is justified, but most people will realize this is a much better trade off if the system costs one half as much and it has a much less invasive soil treatment below ground. The community has to accommodate in various was and this is one of the realizations for having the sewer imposed upon the community. Maybe the cost would have to include buying a region near the street where new septic tanks would be installed. This would allow public control especially if community septic tanks were used instead of individual septic tanks.

A STEP collection system with a lower BOD treatment plant and effective Ag water exchange can be installed and working within about 2.5 years, whereas a conventional gravity sewer with the high BOD treatment plant will require about 4 to 5 years to complete. If speed is urgent, then we should consider these trade offs.

The 218 vote must clearly define all of the benefits to be gained from adopting the completed proposal to install the sewer. The vote should only be taken once the full costs are disclosed. The final cost must not be exceeded under any circumstances. Proper contingency expenses are included in any engineering project. We must insure the creeping costs do not exist. Note, the Tri W site and Broderson site are examples of previously approved systems with now obvious engineering fatal flaws which would have necessitated millions of dollars of creeping costs increases over time. These provisions for a definite cost maximum, assurance of no creeping costs, a clearly articulated design for collection, treatment, an water reuse, and a firm deadline for completion must be spelled out before the citizens of Los Osos can be expected to approve a 218 vote.

Since the Tri W site is very much on the table, it is extremely important to point out at every opportunity how the County engineering and the RWQCB have adopted and approved of a fatally flawed system. This is a good example of the ethics violations of the process. They hide under the CEQA regulations as if this absolves the County engineering and RWQCB of criminal action for approving of significant errors in approving of the Tri W site as would have occurred if this process had not been stopped. Even now, many want to ignore these fatal flaws in their zeal to move forward in a speedy fashion.

The Supplemental EIR and additional CEQA review should be done prior to any 218 vote, not afterward. All community and regional considerations must be made prior to the 218 vote. This is again the reason so many problems have arisen in the past. All the facts must be known to the residents before they are willing to vote to support the sewer project. Again, we can not afford to have another debacle with unknown problems occurring and tremendous cost overrides after the 218 vote. We must never buy a pig in a poke regarding the Los Osos sewer.

Nacimiento water has the fatal flaw of containing mercury. Mercury is an accumulative poison. Thus, any mercury is too much mercury to allow its use by Los Osos. Water from Morro Bay and Cayucos is state water. This appears to be an effort to force state water upon the citizens of Los Osos. This was the original intent of bringing the old County engineer to San Luis Obispo, to force Los Osos to have to buy into state water. Now it rears its ugly head again, this time in disguise. Cayucos and Morro Bay are underlain by serpentine rock and soils. Any water mixed with the state water has a disproportionately higher level of magnesium. This creates a variety of problems including water infiltration. High magnesium in water makes people more “regular” than they may care to become.

State water is dangerous and potentially fatally flawed. The state water brought into the Metropolitan Water District of Los Angeles is loaded with natural organic compounds picked up when the water flows through the San Joaquin Delta histosols (organic muck and peat soils). These organic compounds react with the chlorine treatment to form a wide variety of organo-chlorine compounds many of which are known or suspected of being cancer causing agents (carcinogens). Why should we expose our citizens to this problem. It makes no difference whether other communities continue to do the wrong thing, it is not appropriate to allow Los Osos to expose our residents intentionally to this very serious potential health threat. State water flows through the San Joaquin Delta and has this problem.

This is the major reason we must insure all aspects of the sewer do keep all of our water locally. We must be able to reduce our water loss to Morro Bay to a minimum of about one inch of water per year. The rest must be effectively reused and must not be wasted by allowing it to enter the bay by seepage from surrounding soils from the upper aquifer.

The Community advisory survey should be made a long time prior to any 218 vote. The citizens must know clearly what they are paying for instead of continually changing the system after the 218 vote.

It appears a vast waste of time and effort to do the process of comparing several cost estimates after the 218 vote. This means we will have no idea of the cost prior to voting on what it will cost. This is an totally asinine approach. Again, it treats the citizens of Los Osos in a totally paternalistic fashion trying to tell them what to do instead of reasoning with them about what will be done and exactly why these things will be done and the exact cost of doing these things. We must stop this paternalistic action in Los Osos.

Another paternalistic action was the process Blakesley used to become the white knight. How often has the state government imposed its will upon the properly elected citizens of Los Angeles or San Francisco in a similar manner? Those who would lose from a major very expensive conventional sewer installation wanted to insure a major sewer project would continue in Los Osos. This state intervention was the major reason for the state intervention. It had nothing to do with local politics or the capabilities of the CSD members to provide direction to the community process. It is all about insuring multinational sewer corporations can win in Los Osos, because if they can then they can impose their own very expensive wills in every other small community in the nation. Los Osos is recognized worldwide as a test case of gigantic multinational sewer corporations versus reasonable community wide small to medium size sewer projects to use the most modern technology at ecologically applicable means and least costs.

All viable alternatives must be known and the single best one must be selected and clearly explained to the residents prior to any 218 vote. Again, we can not afford to have a repeat of the sewer debacle. Placing the 218 vote prior to all of these considerations is a pure invitation for stupidity by the County and will insure a no vote on the 218 resolution.

I am deeply troubled by the assumption only SRF funds with major government strings will be the only way to go in Los Osos. I firmly believe various firms will be able to provide private lending because they realize the ecologically friendly small and medium size sewer companies are also fighting for their existence. If any community can obtain private funding for their sewer process, I can affirm it will certainly be Los Osos because of this world wide attention and understanding of these problems.

Figure 1.1 is a classic example of the problem. It says “Proposition 218 assessment to match final project selected”. Again, we see the paternalistic and blank check approach the County engineering believes is the way. Certainly, the County engineering wants to run up the total costs as much as possible. We must do everything possible to turn this around allowing the citizens of Los Osos to be in control of what they will have to pay by knowing up front the true costs of this project. It is time to treat the citizens of Los Osos with respect and mature reasoning from facts and fiscal responsibility rather than continue the paternalistic dictatorial approach used in the past.

The bait and switch tactics consisted of the first TAC exploring the various waste water alternatives (over 20 were examined) had reached a consensus to move ahead with the sewer. After we made our presentation to the County Board of Supervisors, the engineer presumably working with us (but who had refused to meet with us or share any information) made the voodoo economics presentation charging the cost of the conventional sewer against all of the other proposals we knew were much less in cost. This was the first example

The bait and switch tactics continued with the vote to approve the creation of the CSD. The citizens were under the impression the Solutions Group’s proposal for a ponding system would be used. All of a sudden from nowhere, the full blown sewer at the Tri W site with the Broderson recharge was adopted. Many citizens were waiting to learn when they would be voting on the approval of this indebtedness. The legal counsel explained they could circumvent the law in this case. Clearly, this was a form of taxation without representation of the full electorate on a bond issue as occurs in nearly every California State election on bond issues. These bonds are voted on with a clearly indicated cost and the implications of the resulting passage or failure of the vote.

The threat letter sent to all Los Osos residents will in all probability assure a no vote on the 218 vote. The threat letter in effect is saying if the community votes no, then the RWQCB will proceed with condemnation of property by declaring the entire community a toxic waste site. This will have the effect of making the residences useless and the property value will be zero. This is clearly a taking under the law. This will constitute the largest taking in U.S. history for trivial reasons. The process will be declared unconstitutional based upon related taking cases. However, it can potentially destroy the entire community of Los Osos before the Supreme Court rules on this issue. In addition, because the RWQCB has continually argued the problem is nitrates in Los Osos, they have created a problem for themselves.

The various geologic and hydrologic models clearly indicate the nitrates under Los Osos will not clear up even with a sewer for at least 40 years and in all probability it will be much longer. It the community is classified as a toxic waste dump, then the RWQCB will be required to clean it up because the took responsibility for it when they issued the letters of condemnation. Obviously, by evicting all home owners and rendering their property worthless, the property can not be sold to pay for the nitrate clean up. Where will the funds come from to be able to declare Los Osos an non-toxic waste site. All of these constitute unprecedented actions. They clearly indicate acts of desperation by the RWQCB and have not been processed to their logical conclusions.

The current TAC proposal smells all over of the same bait and switch tactics. The TAC members will be led along just as with the first waste water TAC. At the last minute I fully expect some white knight (as occurred with Sam Blakeslee) will step in and turn the whole project on its ear. This is why we must not have a 218 vote before the full cost and the consequences are known.

The community must have an Economic Impact Analysis prior to any vote. We need to know the full impact on this community, especially because of the large number of retired people living on fixed incomes. Two economic Impact Analyses are needed. One including only the residents within the prohibition zone and one including all those potentially benefitting from the proposed sewer and potential hooking up in to the future.

The fatal flaw from the last two EIRs have been allowing the community to develop to full build out of the community as projected by the County. The fact is we are well beyond our current sustainable yield. We continue to lose water from the upper aquifer into Morro Bay at an unacceptable rate. Both the over drafting of the ground water causing sea water intrusion and the current failure to capture the water from septic tank recharge flowing into the bay are serious problems. They should never be allowed to occur. Much of the sewer is being driven by this development potential. However, the fact we are currently beyond the allowable sustainable yield tells us we can not allow further development to occur on undeveloped lots in Los Osos.

The Environmental Impact Reports (EIR) have been highly flawed. For example, it failed to assess the potential impact on wetlands in Los Osos. It has continually failed to assess properly the impact of the Broderson site for waste water recharge. The presence of Don Asquith on this current TAC appears to be a conflict of interest because the firm he works for has done the previous EIRs. Continuing to use this same firm will insure the same fatal flaws will be passed on the citizens to have to pay through the nose to correct problems the EIRs should have flagged.

Both the new Economic Impact Report and the Environmental Impact Reports should be done by people completely dissociated with any investments or interest in the sewer industry or in Los Osos or in San Luis Obispo County.

I have stopped processing this document. I reached section 1.3 on page 1-7. It is highly depressing to read how the County intends to force the conventional gravity sewer onto the community of Los Osos with bait and switch tactics and a blank check mentality. All parts of the sewer as currently conceived will contain fatal flaws which should have been eliminated, but they continue to reappear time and again in report after report without correction.

Somewhere an Engineering firm will have to bite the bullet and say these are fatal flaws and they can not install this sewer. Maybe County Engineer George Gibson many times reminded the waste water alternatives TAC, the many problems in Los Osos may very likely prevent the proper functioning of any installed sewer in this community.

I recognize a sewer is needed. I only ask for a true, open and honest assessment of every single facet of the myriad of problems related to this sewer. We owe the citizens to know all of the facts and the full costs before we approve of any legislation to contract bonds for the construction of a sewer in Los Osos. We must have some guarantee the various fatal flaws will not occur. Sufficient small businesses are in the sewer game, they probably will willing step forward to provide these guarantees and do this for much less cost, with less adverse environmental impact and with much less social disruption for this community than will occur by approving the Tri W site with the Broderson recharge and the failure to treat the biosolids problem or the initial hookups from each home to the sewer pipes.


Anonymous said...

Ruehr, are you an IDIOT?

"We must insure we do not connect to the state water. We must prevent connecting to Lake Naciamiento water. This water contains sufficient mercury (even when it is below the mercury detection limit) to contain millions to billions of atoms of mercury in each gallon of water."



Sorry Tom, you just lost a whole lot of credibility. I don't believe any of your thesis because it's not measureable!

Churadogs said...

Anonymous sez:"Sorry Tom, you just lost a whole lot of credibility. I don't believe any of your thesis because it's not measureable!"

This is interesting. Baby with the bath water type of thinking. If A is objectionable, then the entire alphabet will be disregarded, unread. It will be interesting to see what other blog readers get from Dr. Ruehr's comments, which are varied and cover a section of the TAC report. I certainly found some key points that have been turning up lke a bad penny for years and still appear to remain unsolvable "sticking points." I can only hope the County, or the TAC or the Engineers can fnally resolve those issues now. If not, I fear we may end up with a [another] mess further down the road.[again]

Anonymous said...

I have two comments this morning:

1) If you don't understand, Ann, why the Chairperson of the CSD Board is not welcome as part of the funding trip with the representative, you will never understand what is going on here. The only reason that the County has been able to stir renewed interest in Federal and State funding for the project is because the County is in charge of this project effort and the CSD is out of the picture. The CSD could not be thought less of by the funding agencies.

2)After reading Dr. Ruehr's memo, it is clear why the County had the foresight to exclude him from the TAC. He is one of the handfull of key people (Bud Laurent, Pandora's group) who are responsible for us not currently having a reasonably costing sewer system in place. Always putting the self satisfying academic study-a-thon ahead of a goal of getting a reasonable (not necessarily perfect) project actually built. He sounds like the no-sewer advocate that he was 10-15 years ago, regardless of what he says in this blog.

Anonymous said...

Hi All,

Tom Ruehr is a NUT.

He was rightfully excluded from the TAC.

Read his words (below) from 2001 about the Los Osos sewer....his words are foul, hateful, and definately not professional.

Sewer Terrorism
A speech given by Dr. Thomas A. Ruehr in September of 2001

"I want to speak to all citizens of Los Osos, both those present this evening and those watching on television. Every citizen who watches this and is concerned about government abuse should take notice. All citizens living in San Luis Obispo County in non-sewered communities should take careful heed because the same thing will happen to you in the near future.

It is time to begin a letter writing and a telephone calling campaign. Write or phone every newspaper in the community and the state. Contact radio and television stations. Write or call all politicians. Do not just express your concerns as questions, demand answers.

Make no mistake about it. The recent action of the federal district judge to dismiss the legal case without comment is a unique form of political terrorism against the community of Los Osos. It is a different form of insidious terrorism and can be brought against every community large or small. The only weapon we have to fight such political terrorism is to ask questions and to promote an open properly functioning government.

The following questions must be asked of any and all possible contacts in the media or public office.

Why was the ballot for the sewer NOT confidential as a secret ballot? A separate enclosed ballot marked with only the lot size or the number of sewer connection units could have been provided. This would have allowed people to vote in secret and would still provide a tally of who returned the ballots. But, this was NOT done in a democracy. Why were we prevented from voting in secret in this way?

Why were all non-votes counted as yes votes in favor of the sewer? Were the citizens warned of this unique voting process ahead of time? What would happen nationally if all non-votes were added arbitrarily to a particular candidate's vote? Why should only the wealthy and the powerful be able to choose a voting system which prevents a secret ballot and has intimidated many voters thus preventing them from sending in their vote, and then counting this vote as being in favor of the process when no vote was actually voted?

What is the political influence which caused the federal district judge to dismiss the Los Osos case without comment? Why did the judge NOT want to examine the charge of social injustice in this community of Los Osos? Was the federal district judge bought out by the wealthy and the powerful in the community? Was the federal district judge pressured into dismissing the case by pressure from the Regional Water Quality Control Board? Contact the courts to ask what the process is and ask they to explain to you why such actions are taken. Specify you want to know why the case was dismissed without a hearing.

Why has the law and the governmental process allowed gerrymandering of the land in Los Osos resulting in a "prohibition zone" which has resulted in social injustice? Why are almost all of the residents who are poor or on fixed incomes included within the prohibition zone, while the wealthy or politically influential are located outside of this "prohibition zone"? Why are these same poor and those on fixed incomes forced to pay the full cost of the sewer? What cost will be born by those wealthy citizens with modern fancy newer homes outside the "prohibition zone" who will be forced in the future to connect to the previously constructed sewer? A simple connection fee is much less than the cost of construction. Why were NOT all citizens who would potentially benefit from this sewer included in the assessment district and included within the "prohibition zone"? Is the "prohibition zone" an admission by the Regional Water Quality Control Board of some properly functioning septic systems within the community? Or is the "prohibition zone" only a way of saying the government process of allowing 25 foot wide lots originally in this community has resulted in too high of a housing density per acre, and consequently, only the wealthy have afforded and been able to purchase larger lots outside of this "prohibition zone"?

The legislature of the State of California created the State Water Resources Control Board and the Regional Water Quality Control Boards to monitor and regulate the state's water resources. These have been created as quasi-governmental agencies with vast unregulated powers and are beholding to no governmental body whatsoever. What laws allow the Regional Water Quality Control Board to dictate a particular type of sewer on the community of Los Osos? The state allows them only to point out problems, require corrective actions and demand solutions, but they are supposed to be prevented from specifying specific solutions. Why does the Regional Water Quality Control Board force the most expensive and environmentally non-friendly form of a sewer on the community of Los Osos? Why is the Regional Water Quality Control Board so obsessed with the nitrate level in Los Osos? Why does the Regional Water Quality Control Board continue repeatedly to monitor and report nitrate levels from monitoring wells which even the best engineering firms have continually warned were improperly constructed and not properly sealed to prevent surface contamination? Why is the Regional Water Quality Control Board forcing a particular sewer system on this community of Los Osos when the water quality of the upper aquifer before the sewer will be essentially no different than the water quality of the properly functioning sewer facility after it is constructed? Both before and after installation by their own data, the nitrate level in the ground water will remain the same at about 8.5 milligrams of nitrate - nitrogen per Liter.

Why is the Regional Water Quality Control Board obsessed only with the quality of the water and willing to allow the quantity of water to disappear from this community of Los Osos? Under the proposed sewer system, a series of water recharge sites are proposed only to recharge the upper aquifer which only drains eventually downhill into Morro Bay and the Pacific Ocean. This means eventually all of the water in Los Osos will be lost to the ocean. No attempt is being made to recharge the lower aquifer from which the community draws it’s quantity of pristine & excellent tasting water. Why will the Regional Water Quality Control Board allow this loss of water from our Los Osos community? Why will the Regional Water Quality Control Board allow sea water intrusion into our pristine underground lower aquifer? Such sea water intrustion will contaminate and destroy our the only water source for this community. Is the intention to force this community of Los Osos to import water from Lake Nacimiento or to connect to the state water pipeline eventually? Why must we the citizens of Los Osos be forced to import water from elsewhere when we already have a plentiful supply of some of the most pristine water in the state of California in our lower aquifer?

What political force is driving this compulsive action by the Regional Water Quality Control Board? Why does the Regional Water Quality Control Board demand the stealing of all the people of Los Osos's water in a worse case than the stealing of Owens Valley water by the people of Los Angeles by judicial, political and secret means of the wealthy and powerful over a century ago? Have we learned anything about the judicial and governmental process in a century? Where is the justice in our justice system which turns a blind eye to the crying out of a community faced with such injustices?

How can the community of Los Osos possibly afford this sewer? Various estimates indicate nearly 30 to 40 percent of the residents of this community will NOT be able to maintain the cost of the sewer which will have to be born solely by the residents of this community for the first time, instead of having some governmental support for this government mandated sewer? Why does the state continue to force unfunded mandates of action with no finances upon communities? Why does the Regional Water Quality Control Board refuse to allow the use of proven engineering processes for small communities to be employed in Los Osos? Why does the Regional Water Quality Control Board insist upon only using massively engineered construction which is currently used in other areas within this district? Why does the Regional Water Quality Control Board refuse to allow other engineering technologies which have been developed and are being used successfully with effective track records in other states and countries (but which are denied here because they have not been used within this area before) from being permitted to be used in this community? Why does the Regional Water Quality Control Board reject the suggestions of the United States Environmental Protection Agency which recommends various other alternative proven engineering solutions for small communities?

How will the community of Los Osos be able to dispose of all of the Bio-solids (sewage sludge) generated by this new sewer treatment facility? We dare not burn the Biosolids and are not and should not dump it into the ocean. Newly proposed regulations by the San Luis Obispo County's Board of Supervisors Task Force on Bio-solids will prevent or greatly reduce use as land application for its fertilizer nutrition equivalent. This leaves only disposal into our land fills at very elevated costs and these land fills are rapidly being filled with all other wastes? What are we expected to do with all of the bio-solids being generated? Why are these matters ignored in the current sewer plan?

What is going to happen when instead of about 6000 individual septic tanks and leach fields distributing the properly treated wastewater from our homes into the sandy soils of this community, the number of recharge sites will be reduced to less than 20 and the same mass of water will have to disposed of at these few sites? Will this concentration of water quickly overwhelm the water infiltration and water permeability of these sandy soils at these few recharge sites? These sandy soils have hundreds of pencil thin clay layers parallel to the surface. How far downward will this water soak into these sands with many very fine clay layers which force water to move horizontally along the surface of each clay layer and eventually move northward towards Morro Bay rather than downward to recharge the lower aquifer?

What will happen when the water concentrated into less than 20 water recharge sites over fills the recharge capacity at any site? Will this water simply run down hill over the land surface? What will happen if we have an earthquake? Liquifaction of the land occurs when the soil is overloaded with water and the earthquake causes readjustment of the underlying soil material. This is particularly a problem on a hillside community as exists in Los Osos. Will most of the homes below these recharge sites be susceptible to this liquifaction problem? Will this result in the destruction of many homes within the community of Los Osos?

All massively engineered structures will eventually fail. What will happen when the single massively engineered "monster" sewer facility fails in the middle of town and raw sewage leaks out of the facility with no possible alternative? All residents below the proposed treatment site should be concerned about this potential flow of raw sewage. Should all residents be concerned about the health implications of a failure at this single sewer system with no backup facility? Who should be held responsible for these future failures of the new sewer system? What will happen when the new sewer does NOT correct the nitrate problem and in the future the Regional Water Quality Control Board demands we do a very expensive corrective action to solve the nitrate problem which is not being eliminated by the proposed sewer? Who will be responsible when the computer models used for predicting these problems fail to provide an adequate representation of what nature has in store for the community of Los Osos?

Should the members of the Los Osos Community Services District be impeached or recalled from office? These Community Service District members were widely supported during the election for their stand to have an alternative to the massively engineered sewer. Now these elected members of the Community Services District have changed their minds by 180 degrees and are pushing for a massively engineered sewer system. Why did the members of the Community Services District change their minds? Who exerted such strong political influence upon their will? Who has been bribing officials under the table to make these things happen? Have the members of the Community Service District been coerced, intimidated or threatened by the Regional Water Quality Control Board, its members or its staff? Why have these members of the Community Service District NOT made full disclosures about their actions? Why have they failed to respond to direct questions asking why these actions have been taken at their Community Service District meetings? Do they deserve to remain in office? Are they truly representing our community's best interests?

Has the Regional Water Quality Control Board far exceeded its obligations to the state in their over zealous prosecution of the community of Los Osos? What can be the state or the citizens of the state do when a quasi-governmental organization (the Regional Water Quality Control Board) and the State Water Resources Control Board act beyond their legislative mandate or allow discrimination against some citizens to exist for its own aggrandizement or edification or empowerment? What can be done to return a checks and balances system to these quasi-governmental organizations when the legislature has abdicated its responsibility to provide these checks and balances? Must the state constitution be amended to rectify these excesses?

Why should we the citizens of Los Osos be forced to pay between 80 and 100 million dollars solely from local community members' taxes when the Solutions Group and the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors’ own Technical Advisory Committee on Wastewater Alternatives identified several feasible proven alternative technologies which would together cost much less than 20 to 30 million dollars and would be more environmentally friendly and economically affordable for the citizens of Los Osos? Why is this one of the very first times local citizens will be forced to bear the entire burden of a public works project mandated by a state agency without recourse to some major state or federal assistance and NO ability to reject the massively engineered sewer in favor of a more manageable proven effective and more economical alternative solution?

As Dr. John Alexander and others have indicated, various proven technologies are available which will serve the needs of Los Osos admirably. Why must we be denied the opportunity of using these instead of the massively engineered "monster" sewer? I believe we need some treatment of wastewater in some parts of Los Osos. Several small local water treatment facilities using sequencing batch reactors (the type proposed for the "monster" sewer) could be installed in various locations around the community at much less expense than the proposed massively engineered sewer facility. Why does the Regional Water Quality Control Board reject any system which is environmentally friendly and which is designed specifically for small communities where the ability to pay the full sewer fee will bankrupt most of the community?

We want a government of the people, by the people and for the people, NOT a government doing it to the people. We must each make our voices known on these matters. Write letters and make telephone calls to all newspapers, radio, television, all members of the Community Service District, all staff and members of the Regional Water Quality Control Board, to the State Water Resources Control Board and to any and all senators and legislators to make your concerns known. Ask any or all of these questions. Demand specific and explicit answers. The freedom and continuation of our democracy requires an open and communicative governmental process. Write and call often.

People in surrounding communities can be assured their community will be the next one on the hit list of the Regional Water Quality Control Board. Just because you do NOT live in Los Osos is an insufficient reason for you to ignore these concerns. Why should we allow this dictatorial political terrorism to continue to threaten our local community? Where is the Truth? Where is the Openness? Where are the answers to these questions? Where is the Justice in our current governmental process? Should it be changed? What can we citizens do to ensure our government cares for our true concerns and needs rather than just worrying about garnering our contribution and votes for the next election or being able to wield undo political influence while we stand by helpless to challenge the "monster" sewer and similar challenges to our governmental process."

Anonymous said...

Jesus, Ann. How dense can you be?

The CSD is excluded from Thursday's visit by the FEDs because THEY ARE OUT OF THE SEWER PLANNING BUSINESS.

Their only role, assuming they survive that long, will be to operate the WWTP once it has been completed.

Anonymous said...

Thank goodness the county has the common sense to keep those morons away from Thursday's meeting!!!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you, 8:43, for this valuable insight into the mindset of Tom Ruehr.

I had a superficial understanding of the sewer wars
prior to receiving a proposed CDO. After dealing with the RWQCB for the last year, I can firmly attest to the total disregard the WB has for the environmental health of Los Osos. Mr. Ruehr has an exceptional grasp of the total situation, from political to environmental. As a true scholar, he continues to expand his knowledge and will speak the truth in spite of public criticism. It is too bad that those selecting the TAC were afraid of him, as he would force the County to think outside of the restrictive box that most public employees live within.

Thank again, 8:43. I have never Met Mr. Ruehr, and wouldn't even recognize him in passing, but I now wish to make his acquaintance.

Anonymous said...

Dear 10:38 AM, April 10, 2007

I agree with you that Dr. Ruehr's comments not only present valuable insight, but explains why knowing too much got him bounced from the Tri-W Appreciation Committee (TAC) along with John Alexander and Martha Goldin.

Of course, the Dreamers don't want Ruehr anywhere near TAC -- he holds a different opinion than the minions chosen by the King for comfort (his word, not mine). Of course, the Dreamers, who run TAC thanks to the King, don't want anybody who might dissent or disagree that Tri-W in the best option for Los Osos. Oh, so Dr. Ruehr won't roll over? Someone from Cal Poly who doesn't think like a robot bucking for a raise. That is truly refreshing.

Congratulations to Dr. Ruehr for speaking his mind, right or wrong or somewhere in between. He is obviously a man of conscience and conviction, knowing he will get pillored for going against the County grain, against the greed, corruption and inhumanity of the Dreamers, who want to be buried at Tri-W, no matter how wrong it is, no matter what a disaster it will be, technically, environmentally, socially and economically.

We hear your roar, Dr. Ruehr. We hear it in every corner of the village.

P.S. Please ignore the assholes. We have too many of them.

Shark Inlet said...


It seems pretty clear to me that in a typical situation the representatives of the LOCSD would be included in any sort of meeting with a congresscritter in control of money to help fund a project in Los Osos.

However, this is not a typical situation. The LOCSD has chosen to stop a fully funded and permitted project and the LOCSD is now bankrupt and party to several lawsuits, including one against the SWRCB, asking to be able to keep federal dollars even though they don't intend to use those dollars for the purpose they were intended.

It seems likely to me that the only way Capps and the County could achieve such a trip and meeting is if the SWRCB (who needs to play a role) gets their wish. I suspect that the SWRCB may be the group who vetoed LOCSD participation.

While I would want LOCSD participation as a matter of common courtesy, there is no legal obligation for Capps or the County to include anyone from the LOCSD. When you further consider the LOCSD actions it becomes rather clear why they would not be invited.

It's sort of like having younger sibling who is a drunk. Sure, you want them there for your parent's anniversary, but you don't involve them in the planning of the party if you have to deal with caterers who might be offended by what he says after a few drinks.

Los Osos will have a say if you believe what the County says.

My question is this ... if the LOCSD president were to meet with the Congressman would money for Los Osos be more or less likely to be included in the next budget? I suspect less but am not sure. If anyone can put forward a good argument that Chuck being involved would cause us to be more likely to get the cash we desperately need, I would be happy to push for his inclusion ... after all, it would be common courtesy. However, if his inclusion would harm our chances he ought to stay away.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Inlet Without An Inkling,

You said: "The LOCSD has chosen to stop a fully funded and permitted project..."

But that's what you always say and all you ever have to say. You are a dedicated Tri-W deadender destined for the junk heap. You define "broken record."

You said: "It's sort of like having younger sibling who is a drunk. Sure, you want them there for your parent's anniversary, but you don't involve them in the planning of the party..."

I sure wouldn't want to party with you! You are one big bore, Mr. Broken Record. And, your analogy sucks. But stupid does as stupid is.

Finally, you said: "If (Chuck's) his inclusion (on the Congressman's Walk for Dreamers) would harm our chances he ought to stay away."

It all leads back to seeking grant money for the Tri-W project only. Why else would you have the State funding person there, meet with the Regional Water Board, but not one person from our local government?

Ladies and gentlement, "The Big Fix" is in and you're not invited to the party -- but you're going to have to pay for it big-time for many, many years to come.

Shark Inlet said...

As someone who has met Tom I can say that he does tend toward toward mulling every possibility over but in this case I don't think he sees the forest because he's so darn focused on individual trees and their minutiae.

If you want to figure out how to best manage 100 hectares of Monterey Pines to keep them from getting Cancer you shouldn't ask the guy who focuses on details such as the morphological difference between Monterey Pine needles in California stands and those from Chile.

When Tom writes that we should avoid SRF money to keep our costs low he convinced me he is focusing on a theoretical possibility and ignoring the likely outcome of that action. Supposing the project would cost about $150M. Borrowing SRF money at 2.5% for 20 years instead of 6.5% means the total bill would be $187M versus $268M ... a savings of $81M.

The key to his argument is that there will be cost overruns if we have cheap money but that if we borrow money from a bank we won't be as likely to have those overruns. In terms of cost overruns, a $150M project at 6.5% interest rate would nicely balance (total payment-wise) with a $215M project at 2.5% interest. Essentially for Tom to be right ... for borrowing from a bank instead of the SRF ... contractors would have to charge us some 45% more than they would if we got our money via conventional financing.

Do you really think a contractor knows or cares how you borrow the money? Do you really think that a contractor says to himself "well, because the money is from the Feds, I'll run up the costs even more than if the money were borrowed from BofA"? No way. Sure, contractors may be tempted to run up the costs or to underbid the job, but it would not be because of the source of the funding.

Presumably the argument about why we had high bids last time was that there was a limit on the SRF borrowing amount and the contractors knew that limit. With a 218 vote there is also a limit and the contractors would know it in exactly the same way.

Nope, Ruehr is dead wrong here ... contractors face the same choices whether the money is from the state or borrowed locally.

If the quality of Tom's logic is demonstrated by that comment I think we can understand why he wasn't chosen.

Tom is a soil scientist. He's going to be really good at understanding how nitrates are dealt with by soil but he's not a geologist in any sense. The TAC, however, does have a professional geologist who has a long history of involvement in the Los Osos sewer.

To suggest that Tom's scientific input is being ignored is silly ... he doesn't have any more relevant scientific input than I do. Neither Tom or I have any credentials to be discussing the issues the TAC is discussing. Even so, he seems to feel quite comfortable arguing (here) with the conclusions of both Cleath Ripley about the means for recharging the lower aquifer. Strike two.

His comments further suggest he may be unaware that if we stop using the lower aquifer so heavily we can preserve it. How can this happen? By using the upper aquifer more. How can this be done? Only by putting in a sewer and WWTF! Once the plant goes in, Tom's dreams of avoiding state water and Naciamiento water can be realized. Those water sources are rather expensive and at a comparable cost we can denitrify water harvested from our upper aquifer ... as soon as get our WWTF online. Essentially time is of the utmost importance if we really care about avoiding state water. The longer we wait the less likely we can make it without state water.

Nope, Tom has lots of worthwhile stuff to say in his comments and I really hope that the TAC considers his comments carefully (especially on issues where his expertise is greater such as when he discusses the exact means by which treated wastewater will be interacting with the soil) but on the whole, too many of his comments seem unfounded and it is sad that he is allowing his scientific expertise to be obscured by his unscientific rants.

For example, excessive energy costs should be avoided ... yes. But Tom seems to suggest that additional time to study things carefully will be better. The problem here is that delay has a greater impact than energy costs. As we've been reminded by Richard, the costs of delaying the WWTF are about 8% per year or (by now) at least $1M per month. When spread across the whole of our town, this is about $250 per month per home in the PZ. That is ... every month that goes by we'll have to not only pay for the sewer, but we get to pay an additional $250 (before borrowing ... once you factor in interest it's about $300-$450 ... depending on the interest rate we get) just for the waiting a month. We don't save anything, we just pay more.

Suppose it takes an additional five years (versus TriW) to get an "energy efficient" plant online. Our household monthly costs will be about $90 higher every month for 20 years for a total of about $20k. Over a 40 year lifetime for the plant we would have to be spending $44 per month per household for WWTF energy costs to make this worthwhile. If the re-design can save $112k per month in current energy costs it might be worth doing but based on TriW estimated energy costs, that is impossible. Dating back to Fall 2005 Lisa told us that an energy efficient plant would save us only about 1/3 that amount each month (that figure is based on my rough memory of her summary of the benefits of the proposed plant they would build as the result of the "negotiations").

Upshot ... Tom should keep his comments to areas where he knows what he is talking about ... if he makes too many other such comments as this one, he runs the risk of alienating those on the TAC with greater understanding in their own areas of expertise.

Shark Inlet said...

To our most recent anonymous friend ...

Are you telling us that the Recall board didn't take actions which resulted in the project being stopped? Are you asking us to believe that the board thought most the likely outcome of their action would be only a temporary stop on TriW and not a permanent stoppage? Are you asking us to believe the board always intended to start up TriW after a 10 or 20 or 30 day pause?

If you are you've just lost all credibility here. Everyone on both sides knows better.

As for your party ... I guess you don't mind running the risk of alienating your cater and having them walk out on your parent's celebration. Good for you. Glad you feel it is more important to include your drunk brother than it is to make sure your parents are properly honored. I don't actually care if you like my analogy at all. I do think that it does explain why the County and SWRCB and Lois Capps wouldn't want Chuck involved ... they wouldn't want him to screw it up. While I would typically like to have a local representative at such a meeting, you've got to admit that there is no legal obligation for Chuck to be there. And certainly if he were there and to make a statement like "if TriW is on the table, we want nothing to do with your steenkin federal dollars" it could actually hurt our chances.

As for your contention that the money would be for TriW only ... we don't know that ... unless you're asking us to believe some sort of conspiracy or unless you're telling us that you agree that TriW is the cheapest ... which is it?

Lastly ... your final comment suggests you believe that getting federal dollars will raise our costs just because TriW is so darn expensive ... would you kindly care to explain what you propose we do and explain how it is so much less expensive than TriW that we'll save money even if we don't get federal funding.

Until someone can explain how alternatives to TriW will actually save us money it would seem that you're asking to make political and financial decisions based on your belief in fairies. Cute though they are in the books and as charming as they would seem to be, I'm not going to bet my home on their existence. Why are you?

As for your way of addressing me, I happen to own several books by the inklings. Maybe you should refer to me as "Inlet with an inkling collection".

Anonymous said...

At least Dr. Ruehr has the GUTS to give his opinion and SIGN HIS NAME! All these other bloggers putting him down DON'T have the guts to sign their names.

I believe Dr. Ruehr's opinion is much closer to the truth than Tri-W supporters and the county, Regional Water Board or anyone else who is dumb enough to think Tri-W is the solution.

And our CSD should have been invited to join the congressman on his tour of Los Osos. Maybe Bruce Gibson and Sam Blakeslee didn't want the CSD to hear their REAL PLANS for Los Osos!

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Inklet,

You should follow your own advice when you suggest about Ruehr: "Tom should keep his comments to areas where he knows what he is talking about ... if he makes too many other such comments as this one, he runs the risk of alienating those on the TAC with greater understanding in their own areas of expertise."

You are a deadender. You don't know what you are talking about. You have no credibility. All you talk about is Tri-W, Mr. Broken Record. Your logic is absurd and so are so you and anyone else who takes anything you say seriously. You are nothing but a flunky with a bad agenda that Los Osos ain't buying.

Tri-W left, Tri-W right, Tri-W down the middle. You are pathetic.

You quote Richard, the stoned architect, as your financial advisor. That is truly rich! On the lam from LAFcO, Mr. Richard "I Like to Play With Numbers" LeGross? You, Sharky, are quite a dipper. With LeGross, you've licked the bottom of the polluted barrel when it comes to relying on "expertise." If LeGross is your guide, you're lost and you're not coming back.

You Tri-W deadenders are surely a sect all your own, vowing to die on Tri-W to build the worst plant in the worst place at the worst price, for the biggest money the county can spend on our tab. So you can get your rocks off.

People are a little smarter now. They see right through your superficial, contrived arguments. They don't believe the rigged rantings of you and your braindead Tri-W sect. Been there, done that. If the county doesn't give us a real choice and upholds Tri-W as the "standard," then the 218 will crash and burn. Which it's going to do. It's that simple, stupid.

And you've done nothing to help the county see the light, because you don't see it either. So you will have no one to blame but yourself for selling yourself so hard you forgot you were selling refrigerators to Eskimos.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of pathetic Anon 2:09, you say to ignore the assholes in town, but you make it rather difficult. You speak of econimics, but you and your no-sewer ilk have stolen money out of my pocket for years to come with your delay tactics, misinformation campaigns and lies, lies lies. Common freakin' thieves you are. And your wish for a 218 crash and burn tells me you are the most ignorant person alive, or a renter. My guess it's both. Thief.

Anonymous said...

Paranoia reigns supreme here in LO. Without offering any documented evidence to support statements like "the fix is in by the county, the various water boards, the old CSD board, the contractors, the state government, nausea".

Psychologists and sociologist might consider using LO as a lab for understanding the causes and effects of mass paranoia. Maybe this will produce some income for the PZ!

When are people going to learn that if it sounds too good to be true, it is not TRUE? Also, nobody is OUT TO GET us PZ homeowners!

I read through the long discord by Reuhr, both above and in this comment section, As commentors above mentioned, he sure is wordy and passionate but offers almost no evidence of his many assertions. We are suppose to buy in just because he is/was a Cal Poly professor?

Out in the real large scale engineering work world, there is an adage that seems to have merit IMHO when it comes to tenured professors:

Those than can do, those that can't teach!

Anonymous said...

Those that have the ability to think creatively and have the flexibility to adjust to changing conditions can make it in teaching or private industry. Those that lack these qualities tend to work for government agencies such as public works or water board staff, agencies where politics often supersede wisdom.

Anonymous said...


Take your "wink, wink, nudge, nudge, thumbs on the scale, it's the process that matters" rhetoric and stick it where the sun doesn't shine.

YOU are the one trying to derail the process. YOU are the one with your thumb on the scale. YOU are the one electioneering to sink the 218 vote before the property owners even know what the county is asking for. YOU are the one fear mongering and perpetuating the paranoia.

Why don't you just shut up for a while and let the process play itself out.

Anonymous said...

and YOU are the one trying to sink the TAC.

Anonymous said...

Ah, the old "those who can't do, teach" stereotype. Spoken always by non-teachers who have no idea WHAT WE DO. If you think we don't "do" anything, why don't you try teaching for awhile? Did you get your formal education all by yourself or were there any dedicated teachers structuring EVERYTHING for you along the way? As an astute student of mine once said "It seems like the only people mad about people having tattoos are people who don't have tattoos." Ruehr is not an idiot, just much more intelligent than most people on this blog.

Anonymous said...

Annie, you have answered your own question or at least provided the information regarding just why a member of the LOCSD has apparently not been included in the limo tour:

"Congressman Pete Visclosky, D-Ind, will be coming to Los Osos to tour our fine burg from 2 - 3 p.m. on Thursday, April 12th. “He is expected to meet with county officials and members of the state and regional water boards, and tour Los Osos. . . . . State Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee . . . county Supervisor Bruce Gibson, and a representative from a state loan program are also expected to attend"

Did you read: "...a representative from a state loan program"?

Now just what has been the LOCSD's response regarding the "legality", much less the "repayment" of the mis-used portion of the State's loan? Didn't you say they told the State to stick it?

Well now, the big boys are coming to town and they aren't going to play nicely with the hemorrhoid of San Luis County known commonly as the bankrupt and insolvent CSD.

Anonymous said...

Amen to the above! Let's hope the big guys will listen to the County and the State and conclude that we are seriously incapable and need some help. I for one am glad they are coming and will sit on top of my septic tank all day praying. Cargo cult!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

" Those that have the ability to think creatively and have the flexibility to adjust to changing conditions can make it in teaching or private industry. Those that lack these qualities tend to work for government agencies such as public works or water board staff, agencies where politics often supersede wisdom.

4:31 PM, April 10, 2007"

Your correct, working under pressure of solving real world problems in real time in our military industrial complex can hardly compare to the struggle it must be to use so many words to convey so little supported facts in Reuhr's blog piece.

And as a matter of fact, I have been a teacher in high school and found it is very challenging indeed. But this is hardly the case for a tenured professor that can give the same lecture, with some updates from time to time, for decades.

I disparage no particular profession, only the lack of information in a purportedly technical paper.

There is another adage I remember that comes to mind:

"If you can't dazzle them with brillance, baffle them with Bull Shit"

Anonymous said...

Keeping the CSD Board from a meeting like this is a no-brainer.

My God Ann, surely you do not think that the Lisa Board is fit to represent anyone in Los Osos, do you?

They have made themselves the laughingstock of the entire nation.

Let's keep them locked in their rooms, if necessary, just so we don't embarass ourselves!!!!!

Shark Inlet said...

Mr. 2:09pm ...

Presumably you feel that another site will cost us less than TriW because you've considered the question carefully. Would you be so kind as to share with us your reason for thinking my analysis of the situation is incorrect?

You see ... I put my numbers on the table and made a back-of-the-envelope argument that costs will continue going up and I made it clear that our friend Tom had ignored quite a few financial realities when he wrote this bit.

If you like Ruehr's analysis of the benefits of going with conventional financing over my analysis of the costs of doing so, please explain why you believe Tom to be right and me wrong.

Until you do so please realize that most all of us will think of your comment as a silly attack on my person that fully ignores the issues you should be addressing.

Lastly on the matters of teaching and Poly and whether Tom is gosh-darn-brilliant or not ... Tom is most assuredly quite smart and is quite well respected in his field, Soil Science. I would not suggest he wouldn't do well in private industry just as he has done well in academia. Government service, academia and private industry tend to be the three leading places where someone with a PhD tend to be found and it is fair to say that all three positions are given equal respect within the scientific community. They're all respected but some characteristics of type of job will differ.

Give Tom some credit. In the areas where he is an expert (soils) he should be listened to carefully. In the areas where he is not an expert (such as finances, geology and legal issues) he definitely seems quite willing to give us his opinion but that opinion is definitely not worth any more than yours or mine.

Anonymous said...

Let's just take two of Tom's statements:

First, Broderson.

Using Tom's own analysis, and his 75 gpd per capita. For two people on a 1/10 acre homesite in the PZ (Typical), that equals 60,000 gpd for a 40 acre neighborhood the size of Broderson. Yet Ruehr states that Broderson can't even handle from 4000 to 40,000 gpd. Thanks Tom for pointing out that we should even be discharging from Septics throughout the PZ because the soil can't handle it - you just made the case for the RWQCB!!!

Plus, he cited no report, no analysis, no study, he just says it's so. Totally without back-up. Unprofessional, Tom.

Then, he advocates ag exchange and critizes the lack of wetlands impacts from prior EIRs. Tom, ag exchange (and farther east as you advocate), has the MOST impact on wetlands. Do a little more study, guy, this wouldn't pass a Senior Project.


Anonymous said...

To Mike Green:

Was this post by Ann 'Campaigning' or 'Electioneering'?

April 15, taxes are due. This year the IRS will not send out any material about taxes, deadlines, penalties, etc., because that might be considered electioneering since Congress considers changes to the tax code.

Anonymous said...

All I know is that I am truely fucked by pie on the sky asshoes. I do not know what to do about it.
I have a good idea who to blame.

All I know is this sewer is really going to cause me big problems. This thing has gone on for too long.

If this situation is not solved and my sewer bills not less than $30 a month, I and my friends will look to Ann Calhoun and the Ron to make up the difference. I live in a trailer that I rent.

I blame.

Shark Inlet said...

To our most recent anonymous friend...

Back before the recall election I suggested that in Los Osos the election should come with a guarantee of sorts.

Those who voted against the recall should pay $205/month no matter what because that is what the Dreamers wanted to do and they were afraid that they would end up with higher bills.

Those who voted for the recall would cover the remaining costs, no matter what those costs would be. Most of those who voted for the recall did so because they thought a cheaper solution could be had (and if you don't believe that, witness the continued parade of people here who use the word "unaffordable" in the same sentence as the phrase "mega-sewer").

Roughly speaking, those who voted for the recall thinking it was a way to save money should get the benefits of that vote if they are right but those who voted against the recall as a way of trying to save money should as well.

Everybody wins ... well at least everyone gets to pay what they asked for.

Churadogs said...

Inlet sez:"However, this is not a typical situation. The LOCSD has chosen to stop a fully funded and permitted project"

The VOTERS chose to stop that project. As for including a rep from the CSD, also chosen by the VOTERS, that's just courtesy stuff. Politicans are very familair with all this. The CSD does not have control of the project, but they sill represent the community becasue the VOTERS put them into office, and this project and the funding will impace the VOTERS of this community, so having their rep on the field trip is just standard operating proceedures. I find it telling that one was not invited. Put out the cat, puttt out the caaaatttt.

Inlet also sez:"To suggest that Tom's scientific input is being ignored is silly ... he doesn't have any more relevant scientific input than I do. Neither Tom or I have any credentials to be discussing the issues the TAC is discussing."

You are aware that there are several people on the TAC who have NO engineering/scientific/water/sewer experience or credentials at all, aren't you? So, lacking credentials doesn't preclude input, even "official" input.

And so ain't it grand the number of uncredentialed, unexpert, unscientific, unprofessional people have logged on to add their two cents to Rheur's two cents. Hooray.

Anonymous said...

No kidding it should be telling that the clowns on the CSD were not invited. What does it tell you Ann?


Mike Green said...

Anon sez:
"To Mike Green:

Was this post by Ann 'Campaigning' or 'Electioneering'?"

Well clearly she can legally tell the truth to influence elections, so therefore it's campaigning.

Sheesh, I give you the most simple straightforward definition and you still screw it up.

Anonymous said...

FBLeG here: Something is wrong with my blogger account so I am posting as anonymous.

All the talk about solving real world problems in real-time versus the rarified climate of academia reminded me of this article.

As a comical exercise, I find myself strangely compelled to make the mental substitution:

particle accelerator = TriW sludge factory
Pier Oddone = Paavo Ogren/Noel King
FermiLab = SLO county Public Works +TAC in conjunction with Montgomery-Watson-Harza

Just wanted to share. It still cracks me up.

Mike Green said...

I especially liked the comment that "God is getting a chuckle out of it" by a big bang dissenter.
Who could play that part locally?

Shark Inlet said...


You and the recall board can blame the voters as loud and as long as you want ... but you seem to ignore one thing ... only the board of directors took action. Even if Al and Joey were ranting and raving up down left and right and 85% of the voters agreed with these two, if the board hadn't taken action to stop TriW, it would be nearly done now. Nope it wasn't the voters, it was the board. If the voters in Arkansas elected a man who promised to keep segregation in the schools even though it was deemed illegal, yes the voters do hold some responsibility ... for electing a racist fool ... but the racist fool governor Faubus himself is the individual who took the wrong action. In our representative democracy we vote for people who get to make the decisions for us.

Nope, the LOCSD board is to blame for the decisions they made in error. They refused to listen to what half the town was saying and they chose to underestimate the likelihood of many very bad things happening as a result of their decisions. You can't blame the voters here ... other than for electing unwise boardmembers.

On the issue of Tom's credentials I was simply trying to point out that those who know better than he does will be tempted to think "hey, he's a bloomin idiot" and so ignore him when they should listen.

Due to the anonymity you feel comfortable saying that those who add their opinions to Rheur's aren't expert, credentialed, scientific or professional. I suspect that at least some of those comments do come from people with qualifications.

And if you didn't want people's opinion on Tom's rants ... why did you post them? Presumably it was your way of getting his opinion out there and I appreciate that. But if that was the case, please don't think it appropriate to chastise others for their choice to do exactly what you did, comment on Tom's comments.

4Crapkiller said...

"If you can't dazzle them with brillance, baffle them with Bull Shit" Posted by an anon 8:49 PM, April 10, 2007.

At last I understand where the source of the ignorance and conspiricy theory displayed on this blog has come from!!!!

Dr. Tom Ruehr! (of Cal Poly)

Ann Calhoun certainly has been "baffled". I always feared that she was not smart enough to come to her own conclusions. Now we know the source of her conclusions.

I am sure that DR. Tom Ruehr will testify in the defense of the "foolish five". Heaven help them!

Anonymous said...

Crappy says,

"Dr. Tom Ruehr! (of Cal Poly)"

Just for the record...

And the RWQCB's prosecution expert witness is none other than:

Matt Thompson (B.S. Cal Poly)

Anonymous said...

Ann, you must be paid by the word, to have allowed Ruehr's letter in it's entirety into your column.

You keep letting guys like this and the continuing presence of Ron Crawford on here, and you will lose the last vestage of credibility that you have. (Which is not much.)

Churadogs said...

anonymous sez:"Ann, you must be paid by the word, to have allowed Ruehr's letter in it's entirety into your column.

You keep letting guys like this and the continuing presence of Ron Crawford on here, and you will lose the last vestage of credibility that you have. (Which is not much.)"

Apparently you failed to notice, this isn't a "column." It's a blog site.

And look at what fun people had reading Dr. Rhuer's comments and commenting themselves, including yourself.

As for my or Ron's lack of credibility, if that's the case, what are you doing logging on to this Blog to read what's been posted and then spend time commenting on it?

Shark Inlet said...


Perhaps the reason for our friend's vigilance is that he doesn't want you to be able to put your opinion out there without someone to counter it.

Don't you think that FOX news would love it if NPR and PBS both dropped their news divisions?

Churadogs said...

Inlet sez:"Shark Inlet said...

Perhaps the reason for our friend's vigilance is that he doesn't want you to be able to put your opinion out there without someone to counter it.

Don't you think that FOX news would love it if NPR and PBS both dropped their news divisions?

3:19 PM, April 12, 2007"

Actually, his comment didn't make much sense. He was prefectly free to comment on what was posted. I suspect, however, he didn't agree with Ruehr and simply wanted Rhuer's comments GONE, OFF, DISAPPEARED TOTALLY, rather than posted and discussed. Freedom of speech for ME but not for THEE. The fact he thinks a blogsite is a "column???" Uh . . . .

4crapkiller said...


I for one am really glad you posted Dr. Tom Ruehr's comments. Interesting! Now if he would only document his speculation, I would
feel that he was just not delving into metaphysics. By the way, there are people with Doctorates in metaphysics.

They are not M.D.s.

I wonder if Dr. Tom regularly speaks to Angela Davis. She is a doctor and teaches at UC Santa Cruz, located within "The Peoples Republic of Santa Cruz."

Shark Inlet said...


Yet again you appear confused. You now say that he wanted Tom's comments gone rather than discussed. He wrote nothing that could be reasonably interpreted in this way.