Reclamator Saga Continues, BOS Meets, Dr. T May Be Mentioned, Yes, It's The Tuesday Sewer Report In SLOWTown, 2 p.m.
During the Sewer Hour at the BOS meeting, starting at 2 pm today, I received an email that the RWQCB has sent AES/Reclamator folks a letter regarding their system. Personally, I no longer believe anything the RWQCB staff has to say vis a vis evaluating anything "scientifically." Not since sitting through the ACL & CDO hearings. I mean, nobody who knew anything about septic systems and soil and vados zones or anything like that would have ever -- EVER -- dreamed up that cockamamie bi-monthly Mad Pumping Scheme with a straight face. EVER. So, right there, that told me these guys didn't know what the hell they were doing. Unfortunately, they still claim regulatory power to do anything they like, even if they have to make stuff up. So, I'll be interested in what they have to say about the Reclamator technology. And I'll try to keep a straight face. (Especially since there's apparently a problem with Morro Bay's aging, leaking sewer pipes that keeps now popping up on the Royal Rumor Radar. Old, Leaking Sewer Pipes?? Awwww Gaaawwwwwddd, I hope nobody tells Mr. Briggs about this. He'll slap ACLs and CDOs on Morro Bay residents and force them to pump out their toilets every twenty minutes. Oh Dear, stay tuned.)
According to previously posted emails, the matter of having Dr. T and the peer review group vet whatever systems the county ends up with is supposed to be mentioned. It won't be an agenda item, but is supposedly a topic that will be touched upon.
It's a week to go until the Official 218 protest hearing (also scheduled, last I checked, at 2pm. on Oct 23) so if anyone has any issues with the ballots or proceedures, they'd better speak now or forever hold their peace. Also, if they haven't mailed in their ballots, today may the last day to try to mail anything, thought there've been mail delays so your ballot may not get there in time. It would be far safer to hand carry the ballots to the Clerk's office (inside the front doors, across the lobby from the BOS chambers) and deliver them in person. That way you'll be sure they're received.
And the following, a copy from PZLDF, compiled from a variety of citizen-imputs as recommendations to the County (to assure a clean Process) . Lots of good ideas there, and if the 218 passes, constant citizen vigilance will still need to be there to make sure no little micies start jumping up and down on the scale in the dark, boing-boing-boing.
Los Osos Citizens Requests and Recommendations
( to assure a Clean Process)
The Citizens of Los Osos, both inside and outside the Regional Water Board defined “prohibition Zone” are committed to protecting and improving the water quality in Los Osos and assuring ample clean water supplies in the future;
The Los Osos Community Services District has pursued and diligently supported a wastewater solution for the community, and fully cooperated with the County and other agencies to bring a wastewater solution to fruition for the community under difficult circumstances.
The County of San Luis Obispo has assumed responsibility for the Los Osos Wastewater Project as authorized by Assembly Bill 2701 (Blakeslee), which became effective on January 1, 2007. And the County has substantially completed their Project planning efforts and is seeking funding approval in the form of a property assessment.
The request herein acknowledges that the county is under no obligation to assume responsibility for the Los Osos wastewater project, however, the citizens of Los Osos require reasonable assurances that the County will serve the taxpayers and citizens of Los Osos in good faith during the decision process, and after.
The County must at all times exercise the lawful and ethical execution of responsibilities, including due-diligence, providing an open and transparent process, accountability and assurance of prudent fiscal management of resources, and providing measurable and auditable results while exercising respect for the whole community, and to advocate for the community they serve. To this end, the citizens request the following matters are considered and acted upon, and the actions/corrections reported to the community:
Relief from individual enforcement actions: The Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board has issued enforcement threats and orders against individual homes, and therein contains requirements for the passage of the 218 assessment. The threat of facing a prosecutorial process to collect up to $5000 per day in fines is counterproductive, and meant to coerce the assessment vote. The Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board has within its purview the ability to vacate the 46 random orders and notices of violation which breach election laws, and undermine a process to implement a wastewater project in Los Osos. The citizens of Los Osos, as the subject of the said enforcement, request that the County, as the representative of the Los Osos Community wastewater project, support and advocate the vacating of the enforcement against individuals.
Provision of a private and secure 218 assessment vote: It is the explicit responsibility of the County to assure a vote free from intimidation and coercion, and can easily do so through exceptions which allow for closed ballots.
Government Code Section 6255(a) provides an exception that applies to all public records and is appropriate and justifiable.
6255 (a) The agency shall justify withholding any record by demonstrating that the record in question is exempt under express provisions of this chapter or that on the facts of the particular case the public interest served by not disclosing the record clearly outweighs the public interest served by disclosure of the record.
Affordability: “The displacement of just one family diminishes us all”
In a conflict of goals, the process thus far has failed to apply criteria for affordability standards available from the federal and State governments. This has been inappropriately differed or ignored when developing the alternatives analysis. No enforcement zone specific studies have ever been conducted. The project budget was not established, no budget cap has been established, nothing has been fixed to base the cost for financing for the project, or even to provide a spending guide. Without such input the alternative analysis is flawed, and the cost analysis for the engineers report is invalid. Reports that establish the basis for the assessment engineers report are not certified and stamped. In all these areas, The County has been remiss in carrying out their fiduciary responsibilities.
Sustainability: Affordability and sustainability are closely connected. “SRF loans have the potential to influence water and land use practices in both positive and negative ways.” (SWRCB January 2005 Resolution No. 2005-0006), the State Water Board declared “sustainability and environmental resources to be one of its core values.” Direction by the SWRCB on Jan 20, 2005, for the California Water Boards to consider sustainability in all future policies, guidelines, and regulatory actions.
The application of sustainability is a core value of the Los Osos Community, who requested representation for sustainability through out the planning process using specific trimetrics, such as energy consumption, social impacts, and environmental challenges. The community must know the real costs of various collection, treatment, and disposal/reuse plans as they relate to escalating costs of energy use due to fossil fuel depletion, and required green house gas mitigation in 2012 under AB 32-2006. This information must precede approval of the funding and the project .
Environmental Justice: Environmental Justice is defined by California statute as "The fair treatment of people of all races, cultures, and incomes with respect to the development, adoption, implementation, and enforcement of all environmental laws, regulations, and policies." The Citizens of Los Osos, regardless of social status, income level, culture, race, age, or enforcement based location, requests the County provide findings that the proposed assessment funding, the plans and project is in conformance with the California Environmental Protection Agency (Cal/EPA) and the Boards, Departments, and Office (BDOs) which state they “….shall accord the highest respect and value to every individual and community, by developing and conducting our public health and environmental protection programs, policies, and activities in a manner that promotes equity and affords fair treatment, accessibility, and protection for all Californians, regardless of race, age, culture, income, or geographic location.”
Respect for the will of the people: The electorate of Los Osos voted in 2005 to recall three directors, after repeated attempts since 2001 to affect changes to the proposed wastewater project, the community rejected the proposed project site, the energy intensive technology, the lack of a complete project (deferred elements) the incomplete costs information, the unnecessarily high cost, the lack of effective water management, and water disposal elements that were inadequate.
Measure B was passed at the same time as the recall by a small margin, but sought to provide all residents a voice in the form of a vote to approve the site , the technology, and cost. AB 2701 acknowledged the importance of the voter’s knowledge of the true and full cost for the project, and well as consideration for lower cost options. The promise has been that the will of the electorate and the spirit of measure B are observed. Therefore, only after the final project approval, based upon a community vote, is it appropriate for the full funding to be secured.
Impartial reviews: Quality control/quality assurance is best achieved through 3rd party impartial panel review. Alternatives must be tested against the core values, and in peer reviews. This should include the recommendations from the SLO Green-Build, Sierra Club, Surf rider Foundation, and other stakeholders.
Peer review should involve site specific and sustainable collection systems that combine the most compatible and innovative solutions while applying current and forward regulatory compliance to ensure water quality and quantity. Full review of the project requires completing an accurate needs assessment, energy modeling and embedded energy analysis, life cycle cost analysis, and a detailed community and region based socio-economic impact analysis. Assembling a non profit team of experts, such as National Water Research Institute (NWRI) will assure impartial reviews.
Incorporate all viable proposals: The CSD has update the required Wastewater Facilities Plan for a project, (Ripley Pacific) which was independently reviewed (NWRI) and validated, and must be included in project selection process.
The best value and lowest cost options can not be discarded because of the bias of a competing consulting firm hired by the County. The duty of the County is to seek out and to provide the community with the very best solution. This includes Private and partnering opportunities (Design-Build) by utilizing Gov code 5956 to ensure water quality and achieve regulatory compliance, ensure competitive pricing to maximize affordability, and ensure technical expertise, and increase operating efficiencies. The County commitment to prepare a design-build selection model based on life cycle costs, which requires third party oversight.
Water management: The Citizens of Los Osos and the CSD has worked diligently toward water quality improvements, pursued establishment and implementation of Water Conservation planning and adjudicated water management plans, and has updated the required Wastewater Facilities Plan for a wastewater project. The County supported policy toward the adjudication of the basin and assistance with water management planning should continue, as well as efforts to obtain prop.84 and prop 50 grants for the Los Osos water recycling and water quality enhancement projects. A County supported policy to establish a priority for build out first, in the long restricted prohibition zone, and meeting overall water supplies through cost sharing project with water purveyors to meet water needs is requested.
Citizens advisory council : The County should avoid the political bias and work through the community service organizations. An advisory council made up of broad cross section of representatives (non-technical) including representation of the business community, the low and fixed income groups, families and minorities.
The groups focus should be on the project’s socio-economic and community impacts, and should assist with applications for funding assistance, affordability studies, special legislation for income based rate discounts, community block grant funding for on-lot costs, and zero percent financing for households that meet fail to meet income affordability criteria. Coordinate USDA grants applications, and special projects to help neighbors, and community outreach.
Avoid conflict of interest and litigious entanglement: A commitment to keep the project independent from the CSD debt is essential. The provisions for a protected vote, assuring a sustainable project is delivered, and providing the necessary financial assistance to members within the community helps provide confidence and support for the County led wastewater project. Existing lawsuits from Taxpayers watch, contractors, and others within the sphere of the bankruptcy protection process must not entangle the County.
Regardless of the governors signing message about the loan default, rectifying the CSD debt is not within the scope or authority of the County.
The concern is that the State Water Board has sought to bypass the legal path through the courts to recover the disputed loan default, and contractor claims in several ways: Enforcement-fine the Los Osos CSD, fine individuals, and bring pressure on the County to mix disputed CSD sewer debt with the new project funding. Any mudding of the new project funding by working behind the scenes, outside the intent of AB 2701 threatens the public trust, and impairs County’s ability to bring a successful project to completion. The County must avoid pitfalls that will add costs and diminish support.