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.