MAGIC! It’s Magic, Again!
At the BOS meeting yesterday, during the Stealth Basin Update portion of the meeting, it was demonstrated, once again, the amazing power of the RWQCB. It seems that in the entire Basin Update 0005 & 0006, not a single thing proposed in that document would have significant environmental impacts that would require it to undergo an EIR. List after list of proposed requirements and NOT A SINGLE IMPACT.
Of course, Supervisor Lenthall smelled a rat. Ditto Supervisor Ovitt. They grumbled about unfunded mandates and wanted to at least send a “white paper” letter upline to find out how these magical, self-exempted No Significant Environmental Impact Mandates were going to affect all other rural counties in the state. And Supervisor Gibson grumbled about unfunded mandates and so wanted to form a subcommittee to keep an eye on these Humpty Dumpty RWQCB magicians as their ordinance wends its magical way up to Sacramento. Mr. Gibson also warned the Board that the RWQCB can just do whatever they want and then plop it down on the county without rhyme and reason. (Ah, was what Sewerwatch blogger, Ron Crawford calls " Los Ososology" about to happen to other parts of the county and were those other Supervisors beginning to get an inkling of what their constitutents were in for?)
And it became clear that this Stealth Ordinance is an attempt to bypass the stalled state AB885. The problem with this update is it really is bypassing the same process that AB885 went through. Unanswered is why and by whom AB885 is/was being stalled. And, rightly, Supervisor Ovitt expressed concern that – once again – we may see this stealth ordinance hustled through only to be countermanded when and if AB885 finally makes it through with a set of conflicting standards, all of which will have to be reconciled or undone, which means: Mo’ Money for the county and/or the homeowners.And mo' lawsuits?
So what else is new? Well, one interesting wrinkle became clear. The County claims that the original MOU concerning septics “expired” a few years ago. And the county and the RWQCB are operating on verbal agreements, which to anyone living in the LOPZ and familiar with the RWQCB, means they’re not worth the paper they’re not printed on. But this also mean that the County can’t move ahead to issue permits for a variety of “green build” innovative wastewater treatment options for various county-wide projects since the RWQCB is the only “permitting” agency and it can take more than six months to get them to o.k. anything, thereby slowing down Being Green – an irony, especially when it comes to issues of WATER QUALITY.
So, there was the irony and the stick and carrot: do nothing and get some Stealth ordinance dropped on them or enter into an MOU with the Board in hopes of speeding up innovative greenbuild solutions, knowing full well that they’re dancing with the devil when they dance with THIS staff and THIS RWQCB.
I bring up this key point since it’s possible that the BOS has forgotten that it was THIS staff and THIS RWQCB that brought you the Los Osos Mad Pumping Scheme, a poorly thought through, poorly planned, hastily thrown together scheme that would have had an adverse impact on WATER QUALITY in Los Osos, one that was mercifully stopped by the SLO County Air Quality Board who came in at the 11th hour to say, Woa. Thereby showing to the watching world just what an ill thought out scheme these RWQCB Boyos had concocted – a fact that does not bode well for this magical “NO IMPACT” Stealth Update. No Impact. Right. Sure. Whatever.
The upshot of the BOS is that staff will be at the RWQCB May 9th hearing on the matter, will monitor what the RWQCB’s decisions are, then report back to the BOS, which will decide then how to go forward.
Emails, we get Emails or Oh, Lucy, Jooooo Gotta See This! Stealth Goes All Weird
Some emails regarding the new RWQCB’s Stealth Basin Plan Onsite Update (to be discussed at the Tuesday BOS) and other onsite issues. First, Steve Paige’s email to Sorrel Marks regarding his comments. Interesting how apparently Ms. Marks wants to “edit” his comnents? Save time and trouble, doncha know? Let’s just edit all this stuff out of there so it suddenly disappears from the official public comment record, heh-heh. That’s unlikely to sneak past Steve’s sharp eyes.
As for Ms. Reilly’s email, clearly Ms. Reilly has made a mistake in her first paragraph to Mr. Packard. Which prompted my emailing Mr. Packard for clarification. Also, very clearly, there’s still a lot of muddlement here in CDO land. I would opine it’s deliberate. I opine that, since clarifying things is sooooo simple, but has simply gone missing. Much better to stealth around in confusion. I mean, think how easy it would be for the RWQCB to take up my suggestion, print it on bright yellow paper and mail it to every household in the PZ, like they did with the NOVs they sent out.
Emails posted with permission.
Mr. Paige’s email:
Regional Water Quality Control Board
Attn: Sorrel Marks.
895 Aerovista Place Suite 101San Luis Obispo, CA 93401(805) 549-3147
Dear Ms. Marks,
Thank you for the call yesterday about my concerns relating to your septic updates Draft Resolution No. R3-2008-0005, Amendment to the Water Quality Control Plan, Central Coast Basin, revising criteria for onsite wastewater systems, and associated staff report.
I was driving with my daughter and two teenage girls to Santa Barbara when you phoned as was a bit distracted. After your call I realized that you mentioned that you were only going to submit 14 pages of my original complaint without Exhibits. I wish to preserve the administrative record of my filing with you and have all exhibits go on record and be posted before hearing. I am sending you PDF copies that I can of documents to limit the time you would have to spend to post them by scanning them.
Since my home has a septic system, it would be subject to the changes your office has proposed, PZ not withstanding. If you have read all the documentation I have given you, you probably know that I am challenging your CEQA exemption relating to mitigation of Nitrogen contamination in the prohibition zone by source separation of urine and feces and shipping the urine to another waste facility out of the prohibition zone. Source separation represents a new generic form of compliance not covered in your amendments, is a form of mitigation that has considerably fewer environmental impacts and uses less energy than what you have proposed your updates. Same with NSF 41 approved composting toilets, some of which use no energy.
The second part of my CEQA challenge is that your office has continued to impose the Los Osos Prohibition zone enforcement model on my home through orders claiming I am allowed zero discharge after certain benchmarks. The prohibition zone orders and the zone itself have never been reviewed and validated for Environmental Justice Compliance. I think that the PZ zone and orders financially discriminates against the urban poor and financially discriminates against racial minorities as set out in my documentation to your office. I will submit more on this for the record at the hearing.
Your update requires an EIR for compliance with AB-32. Your office if it had studied the wording of AB-32 and subsequent State narratives on compliance you would realize that by imposing the prohibition zone model on a small portion of the groundwater basin your are creating an envoi mental impact because the PZ model of enforcement limits critical path analysis for least energy consumption and least creation for greenhouse gasses. The present energy and real estate markets make affordable, least energy solutions absolutely critical.
As you know I am still requesting a 13269 PC Waiver, and cooperation for creating a SEP program in the Los Osos groundwater basin as a method of voluntary interim compliance until there is an equitable community solution to Nitrogen mitigation. Our calculations show that a Source Separation—STMP—Retrofit program in the Los Osos groundwater basin would remove the same amount of nitrogen than the proposed LOWWP while banking 100AF/yr. of deep aquifer groundwater improving basin groundwater balance and reduce energy consumption by as much as 80 percent.
I hope you have time to review my comments on proportional discharge and regulatory takings from my previous submissions. I believe that I have the right to proportional discharge related to a one acre parcel. If it was used as criteria for enforcement the prohibition zone enforcement model would be unnecessary and all parcels would have a method of compliance that is economically equitable and relational to your new amendments. By imposing the PZ model of enforcement on my property and ignoring my above requests you raise the following CEQA challenges beyond what I have mentioned above which I will be submitting at hearing. PZ septics are one in the same with the other basin septics except for property size:
No AB32 GHG evaluation of the PZ model of enforcement and zero discharge order impacts.
No assimilative capacity study for the zero discharge order in the PZ.. See CITY OF ARCADIA et al., Plaintiffs and Appellants, v. STATE WATER RESOURCES CONTROL BOARD et al., Defendants and Appellants. D043877(Super. Ct. No. GIC803631)
No cost/benefit analysis relating to the PZ and zero discharge order (to validate compliance to EJ precautionary principal narratives) under Water Code section 13267 or the consideration of economic factors under Water Code section 13241 (Same case as above.)
No regulatory takings study relating to the zero discharge vs. proportional discharge for smaller properties equivocating a one acre parcel-- see Executive Order 12630 of Mar. 15, 1988, appear at 53 FR 8859, 3 CFR, 1988 Comp., p. 554.
Proportional discharge is more consistent with the parallel rules exemption from CEQA because it mitigates 95% of the air pollution impacts from shipping wastes and meets EPA guidelines for community compliance. EPA air standards would not allow constant shipping of all wastes from 5000 residences.
First English Evangelical Lutheran Church v. County of Los Angeles, 482 U.S. 304(1987)The Court ruled that even if a regulation that has been found to result in a taking is repealed or invalidated the government must pay just compensation for the interim period that the regulation was in effect. The zero discharge order puts at risk the RWQCB3 for takings compensation for interim compliance.
Thanks for your time. Let me know when we can start the paperwork for my PC 13269 Waiver and SEP paperwork, and request for financial assistance. I think we had a good conversation and you got a good idea of what my beefs are. What can you offer me?
Ms. Reilly’s email:
dateMon, Mar 31, 2008 at 3:08 PM subjectOur Meeting
Dear Mr Packard, Thank you for meeting with us. It seems, though, not much was illuminated. As you said, I can install the Reclamator but it does not absolve me of the $25,000 assessment.
One point we did not cover was that in my recharge of the aquifer, which you stated was permissible, I would install a drip system, a few inches below ground, where my garden would absorb the remaining nitrates. Any other chemicals and particulates would be removed further down my property by a small grove of trees, which includes two redwoods. Studies have shown that redwood trees are a highly effective polishers of foreign substances in water, thereby allowing truly clean water to peculate further. unlike the County's plan, this design allows 100% recharge to our aquifer with no danger of liquefaction and no possible chance of pollution by raw sewage. I would also be installing solar panels to run my Reclamator, giving it the same carbon footprint as in 1990, as prescribed by the Governor in AB32.
In recent weeks alarming articles have been published regarding how little water is left, how pharmaceuticals are prevalent in most of the water supplies, and how the chemicals we use are affecting the endocrine systems of all living creatures, including humans. Neither conventional waste water treatment nor septics can remove these man made chemicals but, thankfully, the Recamator and a well thought out garden can indeed solve these problems.
It is baffling that permits for septic tanks continue to be issued for new construction. Current and future retrofit programs should be using best available technology, not outlawed and outdated technology. This is the same exact logic as installing a conventional sewer system for Los Osos, as soon as it fails, and it will, you'll fine us. Such "business" dealings are know as collusion and are illegal.
As the County continues with its plan of a conventional Carrollo system, I have the right, per California Water Code 13360 Manner of Compliance, to install any legal system I choose. For you to keep moving the goal post, by now saying nothing, except for what the County chooses, is legal, is illegal. You seem to pick and choose the laws you wish to follow and when you want to follow them. The last time I checked, this is the United States of America and not CCRWQCB World.
Of the questions posed to you , which went unanswered, the most profound was, " Is your Board about water quality or is it really about control?" The meeting concluded with the saddest statement of all. In our parting, as you weakly shook my hand, not only did you try to pull away, but you were unable to look me in the eyes when I spoke to you. All I can surmise is that you are too cowardly to face the havoc you are wreaking.
Good Day, Piper Reilly
My letter to Harvey Packard for clarification:
Dear Mr. Packard,
I received a copy of an email from Piper Reilly, sent to you on March 31 regarding a meeting you had with her. In the email she recaps the following: "It seems though, not much was illunimated. As you said, I can install the Reclamator but it does not absolve me of the $25,000 assessment."
I'd like to post Ms. Reilly's email, but this statement appears to be incorrect. According to testimony from Matt Thompson, statements from the Board, official, legal statements in the CDOs etc, NO ONSITES will be allowed within the PZ. Zero discharge means no onsites and anyone not hooking up to the county built community system by 2011 will face high fines and, according to Mr. Thompson's statement, would ultimately have to abandon their homes, & etc.
Ms. Reilly, on the other hand, appears to be saying that you told her she could install the Reclamator? To do so, as I understand it, would require a permit from you folks?
Could you please clarify the Board's position (and/or perhaps clarify what you actually told her, since her comments above can't possibly be correct) vis a vis the Reclamator and/or any other onsite system, so I can post the correct, official information?
I also don't understand how a homeowner could be successfully (legally?) be kept on the hook for an assessment for a "benefit" they do not receive, i.e. a community sewer that they're not using and have no intention of using and are not required to use since they have installed an onsite system legally permitted by the RWQCB & etc. . If that were the case, then the County would have assessed homeowners outside the PZ, for example, even though they're not required to hook up either. I find the claim that homeowners would be on the hook for an assessment that was voted into being under direct threat even more puzzling. I'm sure Ms. Reilly has that incorrect as well.
I hope you can clarify.
Mr. Packard’s Reply:
Attached is a letter we sent to the county regarding permitting of the Reclamator. The second situation described in the letter would apply to Ms. Reilly and most other residents of the prohibition zone. The Basin Plan prohibition applies to all discharges of waste, including those from alternative and advanced treatment systems, such as the Reclamator. So a resident or owner who installs such a system now must still pay the assessment and must hook into the community system when it is available.
Harvey Packard, Section Manager and Enforcement CoordinatorCentral Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board895 Aerovista Place, Suite 101San Luis Obispo, CA 93401Phone: (805) 542-4639
And my reply:
Thank you. Now the next question to be solved: Does the Reclamator discharge "waste." I presume that will have to be solved in court?
Since Ms. Reilly came away from your meeting unclear on this subject, I think it would save a lot of time if you simply wrote (and passed out to anyone who inquired) a letter, on official RWQCB letterhead stationery, signed by Mr. Young, that says the following:
“ Homeowners in the PZ are free to install any onsite system they want to on their property. However, the RWQCB and Staff will not permit or recognize or acknowledge or issue a waiver for ANY onsite system, not even any "advanced" onsite system, to be installed in the LOPZ in any way shape or form, not even ones whose "discharge" meets federal standards or any other water standards for recycled water, treated wastewater, not even systems that result in "discharges" of nitrates well below the state or even federal allowed standards for all pollutants, not even systems that result in "discharges" that do not harm the upper aquifer, the lower aquifer, the bay and/or the waters of the State of California, and not even if an onsite system results in "discharges" that are cleaner than what the county wastewater treatment system will discharge/recharge back into the aquifer, with their official "discharge permit," given to them by us. Nope, nothing whatever, zip, zero.
“And by 2011 if you're not hooked up to the county sewer system, the RWQCB will issue a CAO and start fining you out of your homes.”
I'd also suggest posting same on your website, since there seems to be some ongoing confusion in the community, even after meetings with your staff.
Los Osos, CA