Thursday, June 28, 2007

And Now For Something Completely Different

Alas, some folks reading and/or posting on this site seem to think the title of this blog is All Sewer All The Time. It isn’t. So, let’s take a break from all the name calling and neener-neening and poo-throwing at one another. It’s a beautiful summer’s day. Here’s a poem by Billy Collins from a wonderful collection of his poems, Sailing Alone Around the Room (available in paperback). Collins is a wonderfully “accessible” poet who nonetheless hides dangerously beautiful hooks in his poems. And for sheer wordsmithing, he’s a delight. Enjoy.

Afternoon with Irish Cows

There were a few dozen who
occupied the field
across the road from where we
stepping all day from tuft to tuft,
their big heads down in the soft
though I would sometimes pass a
and look out to see the field
suddenly empty
as if they had taken wing, flown
off to another country.

Then later, I would open the blue
front door,
and again the field would be full
of their munching,
or they would be lying down
on the black-and-white maps of
their sides,
facing in all directions, waiting
for rain.
How mysterious, how patient and
they appeared in the long quiet of
the afternoon

But every once in a while, one of
would let out a sound so
that I would put down the paper
or the knife I was cutting an apple
and walk across the road to the
stone wall
to see which one of them was
being torched
or pierced through the side with a long spear.

Yes, it sounded like pain until I
could see
the noisy one, anchored there on
all fours,
her neck outstretched, her
bellowing head
laboring upward as she gave
to the rising, full-bodied cry
that began in the darkness of her
and echoed up through her
bowed ribs into her
gaping mouth.

Then I knew that she was only
the large, unadulterated cowness
of herself,
pouring out the ancient apologia
of her kind
to all the green fields and the gray
to the limestone hills and the inlet
of the blue bay,
while she regarded my head and
above the wall with one wild,
shocking eye.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

New Posting Proceedures

Apparently there's one or more witless folks out here in Los Osos who've been attempting to ruin the comment section of this blog by endlessing repeating their various silly battle cries so as to take up all kinds of space thereby discouraging other posters from getting a word in edgewise. It never ceases to amaze me how easily the same people who demand "free speech" for themselves, work so hard to deny it to others. As I said, witless.

At any rate, Greg, the Blog Site Master informs me that I have a few options: 1. turn off the comment section to discourge these immature pests or 2. reconfigured this site so any commentor has to go register and sign on. Shark Inlet and a few other folks have suggest we try that, so for the time being, Greg's set that latter option up.

So, if you want to comment on anything on this site, you'll have to register and log in. Maybe, if you have something worth sharing, you'll go to the trouble to do that. And if you don't, you won't.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Fundraiser, Pure, Absolute Delight, & PZLDF Presentation

Oceans 13? Or, Feeling lucky? There’ll be a “Hold ‘Em for Shauna,” a Texas Hold’ Em poker party to raise money for Shauna Sullivan, who’s been working on behalf of the some of the Los Osos 45 (who have been targeted by the RWQCB, as well as the rest of the residents in the PZ who are also in their gun sights.) The competition event is being hosted by Developer Jeff Edwards and Julie Tacker. As listed in the recent Bay News, “ . . .they will host the event at their residence. They will provide transportation to their home via limo from the Sea Pines Golf Resort. Buy-in is $100 and includes transportation, chips and buffet. Spectators pay $15. All contributions are tax deductible. For further info, see the Web site at or call 528-8736 for ticket information.

Take a Break From Sewers, Time For Some Pure Delight

As noted in the Bay News, “Organizers of the California International Choral Festival & Competition, the first and only choir competition of its kind in the U.S., are ready to welcome seven international and U.S. Choirs to San Luis Obispo for a 3-day festival from June 29 through July 1 at the Performing Arts Center at Cal Poly.

“The event will feature a celebration of song that includes classical and native folk pieces. The Festival is the dream and vision of its Artistic Director, Gary Lamprecht, founder of the San Luis Obispo Vocal Arts Ensemble. An honored and dedicated choral music teacher, Lamprecht has toured extensively with the Vocal Arts Ensemble throughout Europe and competed to international acclaim. The Ensemble hosts the 3-day event.”

In addition to the scheduled events at the PAC, some of which are free, there will be a variety of other performances all over town at various churches, at the SLO Thursday night Farmer’s Market and other venues. For further information, call Pat Harris at 552-0455 or check out the website at

For those of you familiar with the wonderful SLO Vocal Arts Choir, this is a truly exciting event, not to be missed. Enough with sewers; time for a song.

Meeting Announcement

PZLDF’s guest speaker is from Lombardo & Associates. If you’re interested in getting more information on decentralized plans, onsite plans etc. here’s a chance to come and ask questions.

dedicated to clean water, regulatory compliance
and protection of property rights

6:00 PM
For more details, please call 534-1913 or 528-0229

Pio Lombardo
Lombardo & AssociatesDecentralization Benefits, Costs & Considerations

Learn about compliance alternatives – and how they promote a sustainable future
What are the benefits of decentralized systems? What’s the technology? What about the costs?
How does a decentralized approach fit into the mix of options?
What is the permitting process for alternative systems?
How does it address environmental issues?
What are the community impacts and opportunities?

Keep up with the Enforcement Status that will affect your Property and Future

ccw-PZLDF does not endorse the sewer site, technology, or costs, but seeks to assure all options are considered to achieve a open public process, an informed citizenry, and un coerced vote.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Calhoun’s Can(n)ons, The Bay News, Morro Bay CA
For June 21, 07

Little Acorns, Mighty Oaks

And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.
Frederich Nietzsche

Years ago, I was told a bit of doggerel to explain how oaks grow: First year sleeping, second year creeping, third year leaping. That image came to mind as I watched a slide presentation followed by an informal walk-about at the San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden’s new education building and amphitheatre, which is under construction at the El Chorro Regional Park off Highway 1, across from Cuesta College. (The planned official grand opening is for August, so watch for announcements since that’s one party it would be a shame to miss.)

The building’s design was a joint venture between Habitat Studio and San Luis Sustainability Group. Of partial hay-bale construction, it is cunningly positioned to utilize the sun and seasons, solar panels will generate needed electricity, and a new $250,000 complete wastewater treatment project will result in tertiary treated water that will then be available for reuse -- a very smart use of resources, since water is one of the things sure to be in short supply in the coming years. (There’s a matching Greg Hind Foundation Grant for the wastewater plan. They have a last little bit to go, so a donation earmarked specifically for that will be a 2-for-one bang for the buck.)

Down the road a bit is the Gateway Gardens, which was the original first small footprint of a huge dream that was started years ago by a handful of people who had a totally insane idea of creating a 150 acre, world-class botanical garden featuring all the plants that grow in the same climate range and conditions as California. It’s a range that includes such far-flung areas as parts of Chile, Australia, South America and the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Ocean. The plants that grow in these kinds of “coastal deserts” are extraordinarily varied, beautiful, hardy and drought tolerant. The entire 150 acres will be divided into zones that will feature the plants native to their particular regions.

Besides creating a jewel of a botanical garden, a tourist destination, a gem of beauty where local residents can do a walkabout for recreation and solace, the gardens will also have additional educational functions -- programs for school kids from all over the county and eventually the state, as well as research stations and programs for plant propagation, study, and as an education resource for county gardeners who will have an opportunity to see first hand a huge variety of plant examples that will be well suited to their own, soon-to-be water-scarce gardens.

Like the little acorn, to the outside world this enormously grand project appeared to be “sleeping.” In truth, I often thought the dream was an impossible one that would be dead on arrival. But that’s because I wasn’t paying attention. I didn’t hear the music in the garden. Quietly, plant by plant, spade by spade, acre by acre, the project was creeping forward. Now, like the oak, its tip-point has come and it’s “leaping.”

The county has given the nonprofit SLO Botanical Garden a long term lease on the additional acreage around the small “starter” Garden Gateway Center, there is a recently completed Life Celebration Garden, featuring sculpture and memorial bronze “memory medallions,” and soon the new education center building will open. Meantime, the Gateway Garden serves as a busy center for school classes, a wide variety of hands-on gardening activities, not to mention their annual plant sales, a very popular opportunity for homeowners to buy a wide variety of often hard-to-find native plants that have been grown by the busy volunteers.

That, of course, is the heart of the Botanical Garden’s success: volunteers that are as hardy and tough as any of the plants they propagate. “No” and “Can’t” are clearly not in their vocabulary. The results can be seen blooming at the park, with more to come. For further information on their completed plans and future goals, visit their website at, or call 546-3501, leave a message and a volunteer will return your call.

Or, best of all, take a drive to El Chorro Regional Park and take a walk through their Gateway Garden. If you’ve got a green thumb, you’ll find a group that can use your hands-on help. If your thumb is grey, but you’ve got some green in your wallet, you might consider donating some of it to their programs. Their work is a perfect example of what a little acorn can lead to – a mighty amazing garden right here in our own back yard.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

An Interesting Wrinkle or Two

Went to the June 20, Town Hall Meeting at the Los Osos Middle School last night to hear the update on The Hideous Sewer Sardoodledom. Let’s see, there’s about 5,000 homes in the PZ that will be directly affected by this project and about, oh, maybe 100 residents showed up for the meeting. My, my, such interest! Especially, when people had a one-on-one chance to talk directly with the various project personnel and TAC members and the assessment engineer & etc. so as to ask questions and get answers.

The Process plods forward. There were a couple of interesting wrinkles for me. First of all, I’ve heard some folks complain that they’d never vote for a STEP system because they didn’t want their back yard all torn up to put a new tank in. Turns out that most of the tanks in town are now located in front yards, which, for some reason, surprised me as I just assumed they’d be in back. That makes replacement and monitoring easy since a new tank can be dropped in where the old one was and/or simply put the new tank under the driveway, for example, with riser and maintenance access near the street. (Even with gravity, the old tanks would have to be filled and new pipes dug out to the street to hook up to the sewer lines. Same thing would happen for STEP. Old tanks in the back yards (i.e. inaccessble) would be shut down and new lines run to the new tank under the driveway or in part of the front yard. (The Ripley report mentioned the possibility of using rights of way ajacent to the front of lots & etc. Additionally, the engineers have added in the cost of hook up which wasn't included in the original cost of Tri-W, so now STEP and gravity instalation costs are on a level field.)

That would eliminate the fear of whole back yards being torn up and/or maintenance people having to gain access to the yard to service the unit.

The next interesting thing is that the State Revolving Fund demands all sorts of expensive, redundant electrical stuff for STEP units that isn’t in the state engineering codes and not even recommended by STEP builders. The County is now preparing data to have ready to challenge that SRF requirement. If successful, (and if an SRF Loan is in play) that would also save additional money.

Another interesting chart that was shown had the cost breakdowns as follows:

65% collection systems
17 % disposal, water reuse
15% treatment plant
2% land size, cost and siting
1% biosolids/sludge disposal

This prompted Paavo Ogren to note that it could be possible to nail down the last four items, then look into setting up a competitive industry bidding opportunity between gravity and step systems, since the collection system is the biggest cost. That is, a treatment plant and site and a disposal plan is flexible enough to accommodate either gravity or STEP, so, in a way, it doesn’t really matter which type is picked. But it does matter which collections system is picked since that’s where the real cost savings can appear.

Right now, the state laws aren’t really clear on allowing the county to go straight to design build, but, according to Paavo, there may be ways to break up the process so as to invite seriously committed competitive bids that would give the community a more realistic idea of cost on both collections systems, a better idea than just vague “guestimates.”

As for "affordability," all that was mentioned is the continuing search for federal grants. The political climate in Washington is shifting now, so perhaps there will be a greater interest in domestic spending for infrastructure (long neglected, much to the woe of most of the country). That might result in grant monies that would pay for the treatment plant, for example. The County's also looking into some funding mechanism for low-income folks, a sort of "revolving" loan that could be available that would be paid back when the home is sold to help another low income family & etc.

Clearly, "affordability" is the 800 pound gorilla in the room and the simplest answer right now is, Cost is no barrier. It's gonna cost. Period. Nothing we can do about it except to try to get the cost down as low as possible, but there are no promises. Practically speaking, it will be interesting to see if the cost can be held to near what Tri W was (really) going to cost, only this time the treatment plant will be out of town, and will result in the water basin being balanced (i.e. no imported water) . If that happens and the price is still in the Tri-W's "real, actual" cost, then will that make the majority of the community happy? I suppose the assessment vote will give an answer.

The remaining tricky part is the part about water. And getting this project to both allow build out AND balance the basin will require participation by the water purveyors and that means payment for their fair share of the clean water for folks living outside the PZ. Breaking out just what that “fair share” will be will be tricky, but vital.

One thing is clear, water for Los Ososians, will cost more. Just like water rates are going up in SLOTown and everywhere else. And since everyone in the West knows, Whiskey’s fer drinking, Water’s fer fighting, maybe it’s past time to get down to the nursery to lay in a goodly supply of drought-tolerant native plants for the yard. Then, let the games begin.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

A Reminder

It appears from this press release, that the Project Team will be in the room (maybe at display tables, like last time?) for informal Q&A, starting at 6 pm, then the formal presentation begins at 7. Hope you’ll all be there.

Los Osos Wastewater Project Town Hall Meeting June 19, 2007

A Town Hall Meeting will be held on Tuesday, June 19, 2007 from 6:00pm to 9:00pm in the Los Osos Middle School Auditorium at 1555 El Morro Avenue, Los Osos.

The County of San Luis Obispo's Project Team will present technical options for solving the septic pollution from Los Osos and developing approaches to long term sustainable water management. The Project Team will be available for questions and discussion from 6:00pm to 7:00pm, with a formal presentation on the "Draft Fine Screening Analysis" beginning at 7:00pm.

This information can also be viewed on the Project website at

Monday, June 18, 2007

Thanks, Paavo

Paavo Ogren, the county’s deputy public works director, has a Viewpoint in Monday, June 18th Tribune, responding to Baywood Park Resident Doug Morin’s June 15th letter to the editor.

Doug’s original letter was another example of the difficulty of “getting the story right,” so he “gets the the story wrong,” and thereby muddles apples, oranges and grunion together and calls it fruit salad. It’s one of the reasons so many people outside Los Osos think we’re all “crazies,” living in Dogpatch and swilling urine with our morning lattes.

Here’s Doug’s letter. ( Paavo’s Viewpoint ishould be on the Tribune’s website at

County Let This Happen (Headings are written by Tribune staff, not the letter writer.)

I look forward to the banner being unfurled along Los Osos Valley Road: “Clark Valley Welcomes the Los Osos Sewer.” Judging from the reception they gave the proposed animal shelter a few years ago, I’m sure it will be a heart-warming experience.

Of course, property owners in the prohibition zone would still opt for Tri-W. It’s cheaper. But who cares what we think. In more than thirty years, we’ve been given an exclusive say only once, and we voted 87 percent for a gravity system at Tri-W.

That the 13th percent minority could then join forces with renters, along with voters outside the prohibition zone, and overrule our vote, well that’s the problem.

And who is responsible for setting up this Catch-22 system? The county.

Sure, the Julie Tacker brigade bears primary blame for driving the cost from less than $100 per month at the start of their lawsuits, to the $200 per month when they violated the contracts, to the estimate $300 to $4500 per month now. But the county allowed this to happen.

And are they fixing the problem? No, they’d rather knowtow to the crazies and waste even more money studying sites that will never fly.

Sigh. You see all the problems? Where does one begin?

Is the 87 percent vote Mr Morin speaks of the overwhelming vote to form the assessment district with a promise of a $38 a month Ponds of Avalon treatment plant at the Tri W site? Or the original modest assessment ballots sent to homeowners to pay for a start-up for design and land purchase only, 40% of said ballots which were never returned. Eighty-seven percent sounds really great, but not so great when 40% go missing in the first place.

Then Mr. Morin says that “property owners in the prohibition zone would still opt for Tri-W. It’s cheaper.” They would? It is? How does anyone know? During the recall and Measure B election, again, about 40% of the registered voters were a no-show. Hard to know what the majority of a community think or want when a huge chunk of them never show up to the party in the first place.

Then there’s this, “Sure, the Julie Tacker brigade bears primary blame for driving the cost from less than $100 per month at the start of their lawsuits, to the $200 per month when they violated the contracts, to the estimated $300 to $400 per month now. But the county allowed this to happen.”

Huh? The only time a sewer project even came close to pretending to be $100 a month was way back before the CSD formation when the County did have the project and their guestimates were for about that amount. When Tri W went to bid, we were told that the $200–plus a-month amount was due to rise in materials cost (remember the long discussions about how China was buying up all the cement in the world and so the costs were escalating because Tri-W required a lot of cement? And etc.) The county didn’t allow that price rise in cement to happen. The county had no say in the matter. (Indeed, in comments made by Mr. Ogren at a PZLDF meeting, it was clear he felt that the high bid increases were also the result of contractors knowing they had a naive CSD (the pre-recall CSD) snookered and over a barrel. Paavo implied that that would never happen to the County, since they were bigger, more savvy and simply wouldn’t be conned. I tend to agree with that observation. See below regarding the breach of contract lawsuit now in limbo. What really happened on those bids is also locked up in that case.)

As for the county allowing this to happen, indeed, they did, way back when. The county allowed overbuilding in the face of a growing water and nitrate pollution crisis, and even after Resolution 83-12 & 13, both they and the RWQCB permitted even more homes to be built, in weird and unexplained violation of the RWQCB’s own resolutions. The history of this whole mess does not even begin to pass the smell test.

And as for “violated the contracts,” that case is frozen so nobody knows at this point who “violated” (breached) what. (Personally, that’s the one key case to so many other things. I can only hope that that case finds a way to go forward since a whole lot of interesting beans will be spilling out of that can. Beans Los Ososians deserve to see in order to begin to “get the story right.”)

And, finally, a comment I read often in other letters to the editor: “Are they fixing the problem? No, they’d rather knowtow to the crazies and waste even more money studying sites that will never fly.”

Uh, actually, Mr. Morin, all the sites being studied now survived the rough screening process so, at this point, are all capable of flying – until further notice. And the County and the volunteer TAC, far from not “fixing the problem,” have been extraordinarily busy . . . fixing the problem.

As for Mr. Morin’s reference to knowtowing to the crazies, here’s Mr. Ogren’s partial Viewpoint reply: “First, we are not sure who Mr. Morin is referring to in his general reference to the “crazies” of Los Osos. The characterization that members of his community are “crazy” is inappropriate and disrespectful of the challenges associated with the enormously difficult wastewater project and its impacts.”

Los Osos Crazies! County doing nothing! Tri-W Cheaper! 87% Voted! County to Blame!

It’s a mantra that’s all too common, a mantra that keeps getting the story wrong. And therein lurks the ongoing danger: Stories are, in many ways, like road maps. They tell us where we’ve been and can point out where we think we want to go. Get the story wrong and you get the map wrong. Get the map wrong and you can find the path you’re building is heading for a cliff. Again.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Hellooooo, HeeelllloooOOOOO, Los Osos! TAC & Town Hall Meetings

TAC Community Meeting Monday, June 18, 2007 - 7:00 PM South Bay Community Center - 2180 Palisades Avenue, Los Osos

Please note the change in meeting time from 7:30 pm to 7:00 pm.This meeting is scheduled to be broadcasted, live, on Charter Cable channel 20 in Los Osos.

Public Input SlipsIf you have a question or wish to speak either on a specific item on the agenda or in general comment, please fill out a slip and hand it to a member of the Project Team staff.

Please make sure that your questions or comments are on topics within the subject matter of the TAC.

Written questions and comments will be considered during our general discussions. Questions to the Project Team will be responded to as time permits.Questions sent in advance to: will be answered when that topic is on the agenda.

Agenda TAC Business Item 1: Approval of Minutes from previous meeting (5 minutes)
Item 2: Pro/Con analysis of Treatment Technology Alternatives (Chapter 4) Comments from the Chairman (5 minutes) Ad-Hoc Working Group Reports (30 minutes) Engineering & Water Resources Sub-Committee analysis Environmental Sub-Committee analysis Financial Sub-Committee analysis Public Comment on Treatment Technology Alternatives in Chapter 4 (30 minutes) General discussion and pro/con analysis including responses to written (60 minutes) questions and comments from the public
Public Comment on other TAC issues (15 minutes)
Adjourn meeting at 9:30 PM

TAC meeting must be a place for open dialog leading to the successful development of a comprehensive PRO/CON analysis on the various project alternatives. We agree and acknowledge that this process demands time and patience and the engagement of the community.
As volunteers working on behalf of the entire community, we will develop this analysis based on clear, objective, and accurate information. We encourage input and participation from the community and have the following meeting expectations:
We expect all participants to avoid creating opportunities for harassment, intimidation and conflict. Constructive dialog is not possible with interruptions and distractions. We will listen and ask for the clarification and accuracy of statements. We will respond as appropriate so that the flow of information is constructive and informative.
We will present the agenda items and commit to staying on topic so that our meetings are productive and provide information for consideration.


A Town Hall Meeting will be held on Tuesday, June 19, 2007 from 6:00pm to9:00 pm in the Los Osos Middle School Auditorium at 1555 El Morro Avenue,Los Osos.The County of San Luis Obispo's Project Team will present technical optionsfor solving the septic pollution from Los Osos and developing approaches tolong term sustainable water management. The Project Team will be availablefor questions and discussion from 6:00pm to 7:00pm, with a formalpresentation on the "Draft Fine Screening Analysis" beginning at 7:00pm.This information can also be viewed on the Project website

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

So, if Tri-W Is Being Given A "Pass" During The Fine Screening Process, And The County Is Claiming It's Still In The Fine Screening Process (Having Been Given A Pass Through The Rough Screening Process) Because It Wants To Follow The CEQA Law And Avoid Lawsuits Down The Line, Blah-Blah-Blah, And There Are Ongoing Claims That The Original Permit Issued For Tri-W Was Obtained In Part By Using A Statement Of Over Riding Considerations That May Have Been, Uh, Less Than, Er, Accurate or Oh, Let's Say, Lacking In Evidence For At Least One Claim, Maybe Two, And A Coastal Commissioner Used The Term, Bait & Switchy, And There's Claims From CC Staff That If There's A Do-Over, The CC Staff Wouldn't Reccommend A Re-Issue Of That Permit Knowing Now What Is Now Known, And The New CSD Revoked The Original SOC, & Etc, Shouldn't The County STOP RIGHT NOW For A Thorough Evaluation As To Whether Or Not The Permit (The One That's Keeping Tri-W On The Table) Actually WAS Legit, Before Going Further And Perhaps Engendering A Much Feared Lawsuit . . . Later Down The Line? In Short, Shouldn't That Original Permit Be Vetted By The County And The TAC And The CC Staff, Perhaps The CC Itself, And If It's Found To Be, Uh, Questionable, Then The Permit Portion Of The Tri-W Project Will Be Removed So That Tri-W Will Then Be On A Level Playing Field (or Pushed Off The Table With A Rough Screening Fatal Flaw?) Along With The Rest Of The Projects Under Consideration?

Just a suggestion.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Sewer or Die

In the CDO and CAO documents sent to The Los Osos 45, it babbles on about having to come up with alternative systems to meet the zero discharge requirements if a county wastewater plan wasn’t “making good progress,” (as defined by the RWQCB) by 2011. If you had no “alternative systems,” you could be fined up to $5,000 a day, and could also be “exposed to accumulation of daily penalties while such discharges continue.” In short, you’d lose your home in short order.

So, PZLDF invited Harvey Packard of the RWQCB to come tell the public just what alternative systems could be used, you know, the ones babbled about in the CDOs and CAOs, the ones the RWQCB is supposed to “help” citizens with, and could Mr. Packard bring a list of approved systems, and could anyone get started on looking into installing one now so they’d be safe just in case the Prop 218 vote failed or the county failed for any reason?

The answer from Mr. Packard came in an email and is as follows. Despite what the language of the CDO’s say, in the real world where the RWQCB treats language and language-in-documents as fungible as wisps of fog, in practical reality, it’s clear that no alternative system will be allowed by the RWQCB. So, it’s simply Sewer or Die. Not that the RWQCB is telling anyone what kind of system to use, mind you.

“Gail, regarding my coming to a community meeting in Los Osos, I've spoken with Paavo Ogren about having me at one of their regular meetings in Los Osos to talk about Water Board issues. Paavo said he would get back to me with a proposed date.

We do not see enhanced or alternative individual onsite systems to be a solution to wastewater problems in Los Osos. As staff, we do not plan on recommending approval of such systems to the Water Board. You mention three reasons why people are asking about these systems:
1) back-up cost comparison for a community system.

I don't have any information about costs. People need to research that information.

2) they want to be fully prepared to comply if the County fails.

Alternative individual systems will not provide compliance with the discharge prohibition. The Basin Plan prohibits waste discharges altogether, without making allowances for meeting a particular treatment standard. The Basin Plan does provide for exceptions to the prohibition, which we would recommend the Board granting for a suitable community system, but we will not recommend exceptions for individual alternative systems.

3) others want to treat and recycle water on their lots.

This might be an acceptable alternative if the owner can show that all waste is removed from the effluent or taken up before it reaches groundwater. However, since most lots in the prohibition zone aren't big enough to use all of the wastewater generated by a residence, especially in the winter, the owner of such a system would still need to hook up to the community wastewater system. Proper use of a grey-water system for irrigation, combined with a community-wide collection system for blackwater, would be more appropriate.


On a happier note, the last sentence of his email should be immediately explored. In a recent Tribune article, it was noted that various Water Officials (The Water Gods) throughout the state are (finally) getting really, really concerned. With climate change, they’re already seeing water shortages now, and are sounding the alarm that something has to be done now to waylay disaster only a few years away. (It’s no good “importing” State Water when there IS no water to import. All cities and counties that rely on State Water will end up with is a very nice – empty – water PIPE, but . . . no water.)

So, can we all start working with the RWQCB on a practical way to set up permitted greywater systems for our homes, thereby reducing water use for our yards? To date, the County’s wastewater plans are clearly focused on “sustainable,” which, in a basin that’s already in serious overdraft, is a smart move. Besides simply installing low-flow items for use IN the home, perhaps everyone in Los Osos needs to seriously look at installing greywater systems for OUTSIDE the home, thereby reducing their total water use.

So, maybe Harvey could come to the community to talk about exactly what greywater systems he would consider approving and permitting? Unless that’s another piece of typical RWQCB Hobson’s Choice smoke and mirrors, you know, the old wallet-tied-to-the-string trick: Homeowner asks about greywater sytems only to be told, Oh, we can’t tell you what kind of system you can use, you’ll have to go spend tons of money investigating systems, bring us a complete plan THEN we’ll tell you, sorry, pay no attention to what we said in the email, we never did have any intention of permitting any greywater systems in the PZ, fooled ya, bwa-hahahahahah.

Meanwhile, don’t forget: Town Hall Meeting, Tuesday, June 19, 2007, Los Osos Middle School, 6 pm. for the SLO County Project Team’s presentation of” technical options” for the wastewater treatment system and for “developing approaches to long term sustainable water management.”

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Calhoun’s Cannons, The Bay News, Morro Bay CA for June 6, 07

Mother’s Day

What experience and history teach is that people and governments have never learned anything from history. G.W.F. Hegel

“Good-bye America . . . you are not the country that I love and I finally realize no matter how much I sacrifice, I can’t make you be that country unless you want it. It’s up to you now.”

Thus spoke Cindy Sheehan as she “retired” from the anti-war movement she helped start when she showed up on President Bush’s Crawford, Texas, front doorstep, media in tow, to ask the one question the American Public didn’t want answered: Exactly why did my [soldier] son die in Iraq?

Her son died in Baghdad three years ago. There are now over 3,400 Moms, many of whom are asking the same question, with more added each day. And still the question goes unanswered, which is exactly the way most Americans want it.

Lord knows, they had ample opportunity to demand an answer and make major changes in their government’s bungled and failing mess of a PNAC war policy during the last few elections. But instead of a veto-proof check-and-balance in Congress, Americans voted to make only a modest change, a change that would ensure a grid-locked, do-little Congress that would soon shift the focus from a fatally flawed policy with daily deaths in a real war with little or no real solution in a far-away country, to an even more urgent problem: How do I delay any real change so as to cover my behind, while setting up the enemy so I can inflict maximum damage on him and his political party in order to win in November?

While it’s a superb new war policy designed to capture and pacify Washington, it won’t help any of our soldiers who will go on dying in Baghdad. But, that’s o.k., since that’s also what the American people apparently had in mind as well.

Which is what Cindy Sheehan apparently didn’t understand. America hadn’t changed. What her son died for is exactly what all Mothers’ soldier-sons and daughters die for: Money, power, resources, land, more money, and looney political notions all tricked up with the constant drum-beat of fear-mongering lies and falsely conflated “facts” cut to fit a preset policy -- Domino Theory, Gulf of Tonkin, WMD, 9-11/Iraq --it’s so easy – all covered over with slam-dunk jingo about Democracy & Freedom. Give it an exciting new TV theme song, toss in plenty of really cool high-tech weapons, lots television-ready visual Shock & Awe for a ratings-obsessed, cheerleading media, and Americans will buy it every time.

And God help anyone who starts asking tough questions. Americans hate party poopers and like Cindy, they’ll be slimed as Liberal Commie-Pinko America Haters, then dismissed.

And why not? This is all unlearned history repeating itself: Young men love war and old men love the money that comes from making war. It is the perfect crime: siphon off the profits, stick the taxpayer with the debt and human debris, then scamper off the political field for a well-paid job as head of some multi-national corporation and/or get a huge advance for your tell-nothing book blaming The Other Guy. It’s a bad summer rerun we never tire of.

Best of all, pre-emptive wars-for-profit are especially easy so long as you follow certain rules: First, make sure that the war you want to start takes place in somebody else’s yard, preferably far away in an obscure country filled with poor, easily demonized “foreigners.” Second, make sure your war is small enough to only involve our full time professional, all volunteer Army. These men and women are not Mothers’ sons and daughters like draftees are, full of dangerous questions. Instead, they are expendable Government Issue weapons of the Corporate/ Military/Industrial/Political Complex. As long as their deaths are kept to a reasonable daily minimum and don’t interrupt our favorite TV shows, most Americans won’t care all that much. After all, killing and dying is what professional warriors are getting paid to do.

It’s a great game that Americans continue play for fun and profit every generation. That’s what Cindy Sheehan apparently didn’t understand when she started her journey. Her son died for a piece of ginned-up fiction that once again killed one group of people while making another group of people very rich indeed. And it was all so easy because Americans and their government refused to learn anything from experience or history.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Put Your Hands On The Table And Step Away From the Hideous Sewer Sardoodledom!

Uh, oh, I see by the June 5 Tribune, that the cat’s out of the bag: The Tri-W project has been carried into the fine screening process and will be considered along with the other projects being looked at, despite it’s having been basically rejected by the voters in both the recall and the Measure B election. It’s also in the mix because, at this point, so far as I know, whatever “fatal flaws” it has now were ignored since it already has it’s permit. Which, of course, raises another question, one that Ron Crawford over at Sewerwatch has been raising for some time: Was that permit obtained by means of, uh, er, fraud? That is, was the Coastal Commission given wrong information by the previous CSD, information contained in the Statement of Overriding Considerations concerning the “strongly held community value” that would require that any sewer plant being considered must also be centrally located so a park could be added to it. Ron’s been looking high and low for any evidence of that “strongly held community value,” and has so far come up empty handed.

But then, Ron’s also got other questions concerning Tri-W. For example, here’s one he sent Paavo for the TAC for their consideration: “The Tri-W project included leachfields at the Broderson site and additional sites on the east side of town as the only reuse/disposal alternative. The sum of the capacity for disposal by the sites in the Tri-w project did not meet the required capacity for buildout flow. The shortfall in capacity was deferred to a future project to solve.”

Here’s [Ron’s] question:

“If it was discovered that one of the ‘Viable Project Alternatives’ scrutinized in the Fine Screening Report for the Los Osos wastewater project required a second, ‘future project’ to ‘meet the required capacity for buildout flow,’ would that be considered a ‘fatal flaw’ for that alternative, or will the TAC allow another project (other than Tri-W) through the fine screening process that will also require a ‘future project’ to meet the planning needs of Los Osos?”

Excellent question. If you stopped and asked a hundred Los Ososians if they knew that Tri W was only a partial plan, that in order to meet buildout, the community would have to build another project, my guess is they would say, No, Nope, Didn’t know that.

So, why is this interesting? Well, for one, the Ripley Plan was proposed in phases. Collect X amount of the town, see how that goes and how water reuse is going, then move on to Phase II and so forth. If Tri W always was/is, in reality, a phased project, then so is Ripley, so, perhaps are other projects being looked at, then they’ll have to be judged by the TAC as apples with apples for cost. (No good comparing Tri W, thinking the price is all inclusive, when, in fact, it was a phased project whose real, ultimate cost would remain unknown.

As for the Tribune noting that “Critics urge the county to drop the site, arguing that the community exercised its will when, by a very narrow margin, voters approved an initiative that precluded the Tri-W parcel for a sewer plant,” I would have to disagree. I believe the key reason for wanting Tri-W off the table is the result of two things: The sense that Tri-W was rigged from the beginning (It wasn’t the ONLY solution, there wasn’t any “strongly held community value” requiring an in-town site so a park could be attached to it, etc.), the permit was obtained by means “bait & switchy” and there is a very real fear that the same a-priori rigging will happen again.

The critics are right. Bait and switchy remains a very real possibility, but if the process was rigged from day one, then the only way to un-rig it is to start again and this time keep the process clean, keep rigging thumbs off the scale, compare apples with apples, include total prices, including OM&R and future water needs and buildout numbers and flexibility if things change suddenly, (i.e. climate change resulting in no outside water availability, extreme increases in fuel costs, etc.) then see what’s left standing on its own merits. The voters will then decide whether they trust the process (and the BOS) sufficiently to give the County the go-ahead with their 218 vote to continue forward with more screening, more evaluation, harder numbers, and an advisory vote on what’s left on the table.

To start rigging things now, before the TAC has had a chance to even evaluate what’s been given them, would be to start the whole bait and switch process again, which, I suspect, the community is tired of. True, the RWQCB rigged the entire deal from day one with their scientifically indefensible PZ, followed by allowing 1,100 homes to be built even after passing Resolution 83-13, thereby putting the rest of the community in jeopardy, not to mention their ongoing game of Hobson’s Choice, but if there is no political will to un-rig that game, then this community will have to accept those imposed limits and swallow (and pay for) whatever is given to them. The choice is theirs.

Meantime, Spencer Harris of Cleath & Associates is scheduled to present Chapter 2 of the Draft Fine Screening Report – End stage Water use and re-use – at the joint TAC/CSD meeting at the South Bay Community Center, Thursday, June 7 starting at 6:30 pm.

Personally, I think that starting at the back end of the project first is really smart. As far as I’m concerned, this project was always about WATER, not sewers, and deciding just how and where the treated wastewater comes out and what’s to be done to it and whether the basin can be balanced without imported water, is absolutely critical to knowing what kind of project would need to be built exactly where in order to accomplish the end goal.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Los Osos Wastewater Draft Report Available

The public review draft of the "Viable Project Alternatives Fine ScreeningAnalysis" has been posted on the Los Osos Wastewater Project website

Use the link below to open the report.

Printed copies of the report will also be available for review, after June4th, at the County Public Works Department office, the Los Osos CSD office,and the Los Osos Library.

Printed copies can also be purchased bycontacting the Public Works Department at (805) 781-5252. A fee ofapproximately $35 will be charged to cover the printing costs of thedocument.

Public comments on the draft report may be submitted to the County PublicWorks Department through June 30, 2007. Comments may be submitted inwriting to the Public Works Department office at the County GovernmentCenter, Room 207, San Luis Obispo, CA 93408 or emailed to
TAC Meeting Changed

Press release from the County: A meeting of the Los Osos Wastewater Project Technical Advisory Committee was scheduled to be held on MOnday, June 4, 2007 in Room 161 of the County Government Center at 1055 Monterey St. SLO.

The meeting date and time has been changed to Thursday, June 7, 2007 at 6:30 p.m. at the South Bay Community Center in Los Osos. The meeting will be a special adjourned meeting, in attendance of the regularly scheduled LOCSD meeting. The County staff and Project Team members will be making a presentation on the water reuse and disposal aspects of the wastewater project at the LOCSD meeting.

Related information can also be viewed on the Project website at

Friday, June 01, 2007

TAC & PZLDF Schedules for June

And check the county website: to see when the Draft of the Fine Screening Report will be available, so everyone can start shouting and shooting, heh-heh.

Upcoming Meetings
Citizens for Clean Water Meets
Washington Mutual Bank L.O.

Monday June 4th 7:00 PM
What the enforcement relief lawsuit may mean to you

County Technical Advisory Committee will be meeting
Monday June 11 and 18th at 7:30at the SB Community Center

To avoid schedule conflicts with the TAC sessions

PZLDF will meet at 6:00PM
June 11th & 18th

Learn how you can comply with the water board requirements. Options, compliance costs , and 218 assessment

(Invited guests in June) Harvey Packard, RWQCB - Permitting Onsite Systems

Rob Miller, TAC engineer - 218 Assessment Process

For more information Call 534-1913
PO Box 6095 Los Osoos Ca 93412