Put Down That Bucket & Step Away From The Mop
According to the Dec 3 Tribune story, on January 15, the BOS will vote on a plan that would put a county-wide ban on letting any “impure” substances go down gutters, hence into stormwater drains and hence via the various storm drain systems into creeks or out to sea. “Only pure rainwater would be acceptable,” notes the Trib.
The story also notes, “supervisor Bruce Gibson acknowledged that the ordinance would ‘impose significant burdens on the community as a whole,’ but he said the community wants clean water.
“Still, not everyone was sanguine about the ordinance.
“The ordinance could make criminals out of ordinary citizens because ‘it’s impossible for people to comply with,’ said Charlie Whitney, chairman of the Santa Margarita Area Advisory Council.”
I applaud the general point of the Ordinance and any education efforts the County is making. State-wide, we’ve all got to start impounding our “used” water, including storm run-off. But the story prompted me to send a quasi-serious email inquiry to Mr. Gibson & the BOS, since the Devil, as ever, is always in the details. And ordinances often have the weird effect of backfiring if they get too silly. I mean, do the residents of my beloved mostly gutterless and storm-drainless Bangladesh By The Bay want to be required to go get a “discharge” permit from Roger Briggs if they want to toss a mop bucket of vinegar-water out on the coyote bushes? And, besides wasting water (unless it’s running off into dirt to water the coyote bushes or nasturtiums), what’s the difference (pollution-wise) between washing dust off a car with a garden hose and having rain wash the same dust off a car? Detergent down a paved driveway, to a gutter, into a storm drain and then out to sea, I can understand. But if you park your car on your lawn and hose the dust off, will the Stormwater Storm Troops come give you a ticket?
My email inquiry:
Am curious if the proposed Stormwater Pollution Prevention and Discharge Control Ordinance covers folks who live on a dirt road unconnected to any storm drain, with a dirt driveway, also unconnected to any storm drain. When I rinse my car off, for example, the water runs into the sandy soil and waters the native vegetation next to what passes for a driveway. Same thing happens when I toss out my bucket of dirty mop water. It runs into the sandy soil and waters the coyote bush. (Living with dogs, I don't clean with any harsh chemicals, only vinegar or baking soda or other natural ingredients)
Will both actions -- rinsing a car and/or tossing out mop water -- now make me a criminal if the ordinance passes?
I certainly support something for folks who live on organized , paved streets with storm drains, since the idea state-wide is to "impound" water on the land and hence keep it out of the creeks and oceans. Which, come to think of it, is exactly what I'm doing now with my mop bucket.
Since any run-off ordinance has real practical value for developed, organized, paved/storm-drained cities & etc, I hope the ordinance will also consider us folks living in, uh, undeveloped parts of the county as well. (Oh, and Please don't try to tell me my bucket of mop water will be polluting the waters of the State of California if I pour it on the coyote bush in the yard. Even the RWQCB couldn't make up enough phony numbers to make that claim hold water.)
A PostScript to the Insider Exclusive posting
Got the following comment from an Anonymice who was having trouble logging onto the blogsite for comment. (anybody else having trouble, too?) This comment responds to several posters chuffingly demanding that “their side” or “the other side” (whatever that means) should have been presented by Mr. Murphy in his video spot. This commenter raises some interesting points.
I have long held that the PZ and Basin Plan should have been updated YEARS ago, especially with more and better information coming in on the water issues due to more complete testing of the groundwater by Cleath & Assoc, & etc. A better basin plan would have given the County more flexibility in dealing with overall problems instead of being stuck with this appallingly inadequate PZ, which, near as I can see, has caused nothing BUT problems.
I have also maintained and still maintain, that selecting 45 happless people to single out for 18 months or more of hammering and harassing was a wrong-headed, appallingly stupid blunder done in a panic, a knee-jerk reaction that was not thought through, has done nothing but waste time and resources while making the Water Board look like bungling nincompoops, and, worst of all, it has not helped clean up one drop of water, but has, instead, hindered and distracted everyone. (If the Board had, for example, simply helped the CSD enforce 83=12 in a coherent, organized fashion after the recall election was certified, how many septics would already be pumped, inspected and repaired by now? Many people were already voluntarily doing that at the time. How many old, poorly running systems would by now be upgraded? What overall impact would that have had on overall “Water Quality?” Compare that with what we ended up with – Zero upgrades and instead, an eighteen-month Mad Hatter Tea Party triggering a defensive lawsuit to protect due process rights that just eats up even more money and time. Water: 0 Taxpayer paid state Lawyers and Staff time: Anybody want to count it all up?)
Anyway, the comment:
“[ various commentors] . . . want to have a chance to represent the other side of the Lawsuit to Mr Murphy, however the other side of the lawsuit would be THE WATER BOARD.
The basin plan, the PZ and 83-13 were always required to be scientifically sound when the amendment it was first approved, and according to the SWRCB and Cal-EPA this process was never completed. The PZ can be easily adjusted or confirmed concurrent to the project development. The intent is NOT to stop or even slow a project, but is to define a project scope by updating and making compliant the 23 year old resolution, and affirming the basin plan. That is actually the method the SWRCB and Federal EPA advises. The solutions group tried to make adjustments, but had no authority to legally open the basin plan to force this. The individual enforcement provides that legal challenge.
In fact, most new sewer projects are defined with science as part of the engineers project scope. By that I mean a scoping report that verifies all those reported studies etc. in the pre-design effort. That is the phase we are in NOW. That is NOT part of the lawsuit, but it is a win-win for the Water board to back off and get into a cooperative arrangement to verify the areas for improvement. It stops nothing, and in fact strengthens the basis for the vote, the project, and the outcome.
Rather than continue to violate the civil rights of individuals, the trust of the greater regulated community, and waste taxpayers funds on prosecution, the regulators can shift gears and put a enforceable work plan together.
Isn't it time for uniting and constructive efforts?
The lawsuit is defensive and an appeal is the only remedy available to protect individuals, property values, and shield against possible future fines.
Everyone will be held responsible for any obstruction to the project. Isn't it safer to support shielding your property from fines?
The project has a better chance of moving forward if the enforcement pressure is based on a county work plan that corrects issues of contention and corrects past mistakes, and lifts enforcement off the backs of a handful of vocal individual examples, which has proven to be counter productive.”
Speaking of Which
Mark your calendars. The county will be holding “A public scoping meeting for the Los Osos Wastewater project’s Environmental Impact Report” Tuesday, December 18, 2007 at 7:00 – 9:00 PM at the South Bay Community Center, located at 2180 Palisades Ave. . . . The open-house format meeting will be open to all interested parties and provide an opportunity for input relating to the scope and content of the Environmental Impact Report. Any questions regarding the meeting. Contact mark Hutchinson, Environmental Programs Manager, at (805) 781-5252.”