Professor Harold Hill and 76 Trombones? Or a Mini-Tri-W in Every Yard? Or Bwa-hahah, Over My Dead Body?
Tom Murphy of Advanced Environmental Systems gave a brief presentation before some Los Ososians last week after he had presented his 53 page proposal for onsite systems for Los Osos to the BOS. Several years ago, he had come to town with an onsite system that claimed to match or exceed the discharge numbers then being proposed for Tri-W. However, the RWQCB has ruled NO ONSITE SYSTEMS BECAUSE IT’S NOW NO DISCHARGE OF POLLUTANTS WITHIN THE PZ.
So Mr. Murphy has come back with the “Reclamator,” a sort of in-tank, mini- Tri-W, MBR-type “treatment plant”, using “ultra filtration spiral wound membrane into the decanter” (i.e. part of the tank) that is able to “meet the Maximum Contaminant Level Goals” which is the EPA standard which defines water having no pollutants,” i.e. no “discharge” of “wastewater.”
At the Los Osos meeting, he stated he’d be at the RWQCB on Friday (since he isn’t on the agenda, all he can do is present the same 53 page information during Public Comment and ask that it be reviewed by staff and possibly agendized at a future meeting?) and supposedly he will be meeting with the county at some point.
What follows is from an email from Mark Low, who’s working with Mr. Murphy. It remains to be seen how this will be received, whose definition of “wastewater” and “discharge” prevails (RWQCB or EPA?) and whether the various testing data supports the “Nowastewater” claims of AES, Inc.
Not being a scientist or engineer or even playing one on TV, I vouch for none of this. Both the county and RWQCB will be taking a look at whatever test data is available. The CSD should also take a gander. Mr. Murphy could be Professor Harold Hill or his system could be the most cost effective alternative to what’s been proposed to date. IF his test results are accurate and the system actually does work like a little mini-Tri-W in an onsite tank with “clean” water coming out of the end, water that would be available onsite to water your petunias, and does it all for less than $100 a month, then the community will be in a quandary:
If the Reclamator doesn’t “discharge” wastewater, the RWQCB has no say in the matter since you don’t need a “discharge” permit if you’re not “discharging” anything. If the Reclamator doesn’t discharge “wastewater” there is no need for a 218 vote – individuals can simply sign up for the “service” being offered at the agreed upon price & etc. OR, If the Reclamator works, will the County be obliged under CEQA review, after the 218 vote, to do due diligence on it as an “alternative” and if the alternative actually works, doesn’t require a permit because it’s not “discharging” anything,” then is the County required under law to pick the best available technology that does the job at the cheapest price? (To date, no onsite systems have been looked at because of the RWQCB’s Hobson’s Choice game they’ve been playing for years on same. The “alternatives” the TAC looked at were all municipal collections/treatment systems, not really “alternatives” at all.) Or will this proposal simply be “forgotten to death,” the evaluations postponed (Gosh, we’re really busy here) until the clock runs out and it becomes a case of Death By Being Ignored To Death, Oh, Darn, If Only We’d Known, Too Late, Ooops, Heh-heh?
Either way, if the Reclamator works, expects battle to erupt over definitions, over who’s the controlling party (local? State? Feds?), be prepared for goal posts to get moved all over the place, obstacles of all kinds to be tossed up, legal threats, lord knows what. (To date the RWQCB has a history of making assertions not backed up with empirical scientific evidence and so relies on the victim of the assertion to personally finance a ruinously expensive court case to prove the assertion wrong, that is, “guilty before proven innocent,” not the other way around.)
Mr. Low stated that he’d soon be posting the 53 page report on line, so people could read it for themselves. For the rest, Mr. Murphy’s shoe has been dropped before the BOS and apparently the RWQCB.
Stay Tuned for The Reply.
Herewith, Mr. Low’s email:
Sent: 9/3/2007 2:22:37 PM
Subject: Test Results - A Water Reclamation Service Agreement/Dutyof Care/Drought Solutions/Annot...
This will serve to keep the focus on the Technology as is required by USC Title 33 Chapter 26 (C26).
The last paragraph of the AES Technology Description defines the quality of the water produced by the RECLAMATOR.
The 1994 NSF Report demonstrates the "BESTEP" Process.
Tom, on his own volition, paid to have the Nitrogen testing done because he knew "then" the importance of it.
I know of no other "at source" alternative technology which can achieve the level of treatment as demonstrated in the testing data.
Within the past 3 years, he has added an ultra filtration spiral wound membrane into the decanter to enable the BESTEP (UF-900) to meet the Maximum Contaminant Level Goals (MCLG) which is the US EPA Standard which defines water having no pollutants, the national treated drinking water standards. The MCLG, not to be confused with the MCLs, is "The level of a contaminant in drinking water below which there is no known or expected risk to health. MCLGs allow for a margin of safety and are non-enforceable public health goals." Please make note of the "non-enforceable" component of this definition.(See: http://www.epa.gov/safewater/contaminants/index.html ) When the "discharge of pollutants" is eliminated, the requirement for a "discharge permit" is also eliminated, as a "discharge permit" is a measure of enforcement. Additionally, C26, Section 1311 (a) additionally clarifies no discharge permit is required unless there is a discharge of pollutants. The BESTEP UF-900 does not discharge pollutants.
A Membrane is a physical "definite" barrier the discharge of pollutants. Unlike a process which solely uses biological treatment, the addition of a definite barrier membrane "consistently and reliably" assures the quality of water which is produced. The quality of water (reclaimed/repurified) produced by the BESTEP UF-900 is: 100% removal of colloids and particulates larger than 10 nano meters, turbidity less than 0.1 NTU, over log 6 removal of bacteria (99.9999% removal), over log 4 removal of viruses (99.99% removal), and removal of large molecular weight organic compounds (above 100,000 Daltons).
BESTEP + Membrane = BADCT (best available demonstrated control technology)
The BESTEP eliminates the need for any collection system and thereby complies with the requirements of C26. The post federal grant cost to each DUE will be $3,500 with a monthly service fee of $45.75 per month.
Any other area-wide waste management solution which might be proposed by the County, as is required by C26, would have to have a life-cycle cost of not more than 15% of the most cost effective alternative. (See Sec. 1281 (j)) This means that, to comply with federal law, such solution if it were to be proposed by the County, would 1) have to be equal in technology and performance, and 2) be required to cost no more than $20 million dollars "installed".
BADCT is required to be promulgated and used when possible, as required by C26.
Howard Kolb previously communicated to Mr. Murphy that if the LOCSD had
proposed the BESTEP 10 as the solution for Los Osos, the State WaterBoard would have approved it.