Look Out, Shandon, Nipomo, Santa Margarita, Here They Come
Yes, it’s Roger Briggs & The Gang, now coming to a community near you. And all you people out there in the county’s unincorporated areas laughed at poor Los Osos. Bwa-hahahah. You’re next. Best of all, this Stealth Update, according to the RWQCB documents, has absolutely no environmental impacts that would require any kind of EIR. None. Zip. It’s a miracle!
And, true to form, "public comment," even serious, technically involved and documented public comment, was all quickly dismissed with the usual unsupported bland assertions. Which means this poorly thought through stealth update will not get a serious review (with an eye to actually making it better) and will be rubber stamped and sent up the line for more rubber stamping. The PROBLEMS then that will be caused by a rubber stamped stealth update plan will be visited upon the unincorported areas when it's far TOO LATE to fix the problems and the residents will be abandoned by their county government and will be left at the mercy of Roger Briggs. Just like Los Osos.
All of us here in Sewerville, can't wait to hear their astonished and fearful outcries then. Our response will be Bwa- hahahahah. Told you so. But you didn't listen, did you?
PRESS RELEASE------FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 7, 2008
CONTACT: Gail McPherson, Citizens for Clean Water -PZLDF-805-459-4535 email@example.com
--------San Luis Obispo Ca.
Regional Water Board Changes its Rules for Septic Systems. Targeted communities question their motives, the lack of notice, and public process.
Sweeping changes will affect over 100,000 properties in 7 counties with onsite septic systems, especially in the communities of San Martin, San Lorenzo Valley, Carmel Valley, Carmel Highlands, Prunedale, Arroyo Grande, Nipomo, Upper Santa Ynez Valley, Los Olivos/ Ballard, according to the water Board staff report. However, none of the actual property owners have been notified of the proposed changes. The Regional Water Board will hold a meeting to adopt the resolutions May 9 2008.
The Regional Water Board has the authority to regulate septic systems, and delegates the costs and responsibility for implementing rules to local jurisdictions, such as the County, through Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) agreements.
The Regional Water Board staff report also states that their agreement with San Luis Obispo County’s permitting of septic systems expired in 2004, and they were dissatisfied with County septic system program performance. Several areas in SLO county rely on septic systems. In addition to Los Osos, Shandon, Templeton, Santa Margarita, Nipomo, and other unincorporated areas in Paso Robles and Atascadero, and in the South County.
The Board of Supervisors recently voted to put a interim verbal agreement in place until the final rules are known. In County staff estimated it will require several additional employees, and additional funding for the already fiscally strapped County.
Citizens for Clean Water, a local watchdog group, claims the Regional Water Board is looking for justification for enforcement action against other targeted communities, and to cover the 4 year lapse in an agreement with the County.
In 2006 the Regional Water Board launched random enforcement against a handful of homeowners with septic systems in Los Osos, and sent notices of violation to all 5000 properties promising stop orders in a streamed-lined enforcement process. Los Osos Citizens filed a defensive lawsuit in May 2007 (CV 070472) that appeals the actions and conduct of the Regional Board. Among the claims is that the agency abused regulatory authority, and did not comply with basic due process and constitutional protections.
The Water Board spokes person, Sorrel Marks has said in the staff report to the Water Board that revisions are minor and only apply to new systems. The revisions are to correct vague and confusing language in current rules. “That is just what was said before, and look at what has happened in Los Osos.” Said Chris Allebe, one of the property owners issued a Cease and Desist Order.
Most would agree that the rules contain confusing language. In fact, the Water board is being challenged on vague language from a similar resolution which used to justify enforcement against Allebe and others in Los Osos in 2006. A similar basin plan revision in 1983, (resolution 83-13) was adopted to accommodate growth. The document stated 1150 more homes could be built, yet placed a septic system prohibition in order to control new discharges. The resolution actually encouraged growth in order to pay for a community sewer. The sewer wasn't built, and a building moratorium in the resolution stopped growth within the prohibition area in 1988. Years later, the resolution has been reinterpreted to force people from homes built before 1988 unless a sewer is constructed by 2011.
The Regional Water Board proposed resolutions to be adopted on May 9th requires local agencies to implement septic management programs, and will allow waivers for existing systems if properties are enrolled in a local program. The waivers can be revoked at any time, and likely won’t apply to Los Osos.
A reading of the staff report and the letters from various agencies request the water board provide more information and postpone adoption of revisions on May 9.
Among the concerns are the costs of the required new programs that must be implemented by the local agencies are unknown and unfunded. The State has been working since 2000 to set statewide septic system standards. Many believe making local changes now, ahead of the proposed statewide plan puts “the cart before the horse’ according to several letters to Water Board staffer that Marks received in response to proposed changes.
According to Gail McPherson, a retired wastewater professional, the normal process for Basin Planning revisions is to notify and involve the stakeholders in the Basin Plan revision process. “A working group approach is completely absent here. The lack of information to justify the action is appalling. The basic who, what, when, where, and how and (how much) for implementation has to be answered. The anticipated cost to taxpayers, and impacts to individuals with septic systems must be explained”. She believes that “this is required information that has either not been thought out beforehand, or is being purposely hidden.”
Some further concerns question the affects on land planning, the environment, changes to the technical criteria for new systems, adding even more vague language, foreclosing on ‘green sewer options’, and the promotion of unsustainable systems that sacrifice affordable housing and granny units.
McPherson Says, “Communities should not expect better treatment in their communities- The punitive and abusive actions by the Regional Water Board against Los Osos spun completely out of control, and we believe individual enforcement orders, and conduct of the Regional Water Board is unconstitutional. McPherson is the spokesperson for Citizens for Clean Water-PZLDF, the non profit group challenging individual enforcement in Los Osos.
Link to Water Board Agenda and document for item 9 & 10
See letters posted from respondents.
More Information: www.pzldf.org CCRWQCB Appeal Lawsuit CV070472: Prohibition Zone Legal Defense Fund vs.. Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board.
Sanitary Engineering AssociateCentral Coast Water Board895 Aerovista Place, Suite 101San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
805/549-3695 (Sorrel's desk)
Sullivan & Associates
Shaunna Sullivan, www.Sullivanlaw.com
Central Coast RWQCB