Two Popes Down, One To Go
Like days of old, when the archbishops gathered in the Vatican and locked themselves into the stronghold to pick a new pope, they would signal how the vote was going by burning ballots. Black smoke meant, no vote yet; white smoke meant we have a pope.
So far, as concerns the Prop 218 vote for The Hideous Los Osos Sewer Project, there are three official votes due on property owned by the public agencies with the following tally: San Luis School Board: Yes. Board of Supervisors (yesterday): Yes. CSD: Thursday night.
Humpty Dumpty? Meet Humpty Dumpty.
Ah, it looks like the battle of the century is shaping up here in Los Osos. At the board of supervisors meeting yesterday, Mr. Murphy of the AES Reclamator company, the company that’s touting the onsite Reclamator as a solution to wastewater discharges and pollution problems in the PZ, has asserted in the past that his system is above the laws governing “discharges” since it doesn’t pollute, meets all federal regulations and so it does not need any permits from the RWQCB.
Yesterday, Harvey Packard of the RWQCB asserted otherwise.
I have previously indentified the RWQCB to be like Humpty Dumpty in Alice in Wonderland’s, “Through The Looking Glass,” who would sniff that when HE used a word it meant exactly what HE said it should mean, nothing more, nothing less. The RWQCB are masters of such assertions. “Do you have any empirical evidence that Mr. Smith is “discharging” anything into the waters of the state of California?” “No.” GUILTY anyway! And so forth.
Now comes Mr. Murphy asserting that his Reclamator doesn’t pollute and so doesn’t need permits and now we’re told that Mr. Murphy has bought a home in Los Osos, will shortly be installing the Reclamator and will see the RWQCB in federal court.
Battle of the Asserting Humpty Dumptys! Get your tickets sometime in 2011 or so.
Meantime, Paavo Ogren noted that he still had not received complete data and documentation on the Reclamator and so he cannot fairly evaluate it as a viable alternative, but he will reserve judgment as to such time as he actually gets complete documentation. He did note, however, that any viable alternative systems wishing to be considered during the CEQA process must take seriously all regulations and must demonstrate with data that they meet all the regulations – even ones they may assert don’t apply. If they don’t, they’ll be out of the running.
Paavo also pointed out that treated wastewater being used above ground for onsite reuse (i.e. purple pipe to water the petunias) is subject to testing for coliform and other nasty bugs and that testing is humongously expensive so that if there were 5,000 Reclamators all over town, they might work perfectly fine, BUT the bill for testing the water coming out of the purple pipe would be extremely high. Even subsurface disposal would require a certain degree of testing and monitoring, all of which would be expensive.
So, the battle of Mr. Murphy and Mr. Packard may be shaping up: Humpty Dumpty? Meet Humpty Dumpty. Is so. Is not. Uh-huh. Nuh-hunh. No. Yes. Sez who? Sez Me. Show me the data. Don’t need to. Do so. Nuh-hunh. Make me. No. Yes.
On the other hand, AB885 is coming down the pike which means that all septic tanks outside the PZ and in the basin and anywhere in an impaired watershed in the state of California will come under the control of their respective RWQCB’s. Which means that everyone outside the PZ will come under the tender mercies of Roger Briggs.
If the Reclamator works as advertised and the data supports its use, it may be a viable system that can be used by folks outside the PZ who will be forced to upgrade their systems with new technology and RWQCB follow up testing & etc.
Also, on the other hand, if Mr. Murphy installs his Reclamator in his newly bought house and keeps data and test results on the output to document what the system is doing, by 2011 he’ll have built up a clear data stream that can be refuted or not, as it will be confirmed and verifiable information and/or a track record over that three year period. That shouldn’t be anything to sneeze at.
Still On The Table
1. Design build. Right now, the plan is for design build competition for parts of this sytem, i.e. collection system, and/or treatment plant, etc. However, it’s still open whether design/build companies can’t also come in with whole projects.
2. Peer Review by Dr. T and the highly respected National Water Research Institute
3. According to Vicky Shelby of the County Clerk’s Office, regarding the “threats” made by some anonymous folk to make the 218 vote “public” and hold people “legally accountable” or attempt to “embarrass them” if they “voted the wrong way,” etc. (you read one such stupid threat on this site by an “anonymous” poster who I 86’ed off this blogsite because of it), the clerk will keep a log of people who want to view the ballots, so you can check to see who’s checking, providing the checkers don’t lie about who they are and use “anonymous” fake names. Whee! Maybe we’ll end up with the “outers” being “outed” by the “outeees.” And other childish bully-boy games. (And you wonder why people roll their eyes at Los Osos?)
4. The community survey will come before there may be really hard numbers, but according to Paavo, a professional survey team can write a survey that will be highly sensitive to various costs. ( The SLO Coastal School District did that with their Measure A bond issue, years ago. Alas, then Superintendent Denton ignored the findings and cranked the tax rate up to the maximum because he knew better what the community wanted than did the people being surveyed and his rubber-stamp school board majority went along – Why not since it meant more money in their coffers). In this case, unlike Dr. Denton, the County wouldn’t directly benefit from such a blatant ploy. so will likely be more mindful of the survey results.)
Oh, No, It’s Medea Still On The Battlements!
Tuesday’s Tribune story, “No refunds for those who paid for failed sewer,” noted that “Recalled district board member Gordon Hensley, who was one of the first property owners to file a nearly $3,300 claim last year, said the decision Monday [not to refund the money] wasn’t the most favorable but gives him hope that he and other property owners may be refunded if their is no successful bankruptcy plan.”
Here’s what I don’t get about this whole “refund issue.” Somebody correct me, but wasn’t the original assessment vote to get funds to begin to design and buy land for “a [unspecified] wastewater treatment project?” So, wasn’t the money spent (and/or earmarked/committed) long ago on “designs?” And wasn’t it spent on buying land? And mitigation? And whatever preliminary stuff needed to get done to move along “a [unspecified] wastewater treatment project?” And since the project wasn’t specified in the original assessment (much like this present assessment) would somebody please tell me why anyone thinks the money should be refunded. Didn’t it buy exactly what it was supposed to buy? Designs? Land?
I mean, it wasn’t like Gordon and other CSD members took that money and went to France. And if part of what it bought later wasn’t used or maybe turned out to be un-usable, is there anything in that original assessment ballot as it was written that said, If this or that part isn’t ultimately used in whatever the final project turns out to be, then I’ll get a refund on the various components that were discarded or unusable by the time the opening ribbon is cut?
Well, maybe the bankruptcy judge can ‘splain that to the community.
And On the Radio
Paavo Ogren and Supervisor Bruce Gibson are scheduled to be guests on the Dave Congalton Show, KVEC radio, 920 am on Thursday afternoon at 5:30. And remember, CSD meeting Thursday night at the community center for the CSD’s vote on their 218 ballots.