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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Another Viewpoint

The following “Viewpoint” by CSD Boardmember, Chuck Cesena, ran in the Tribune Feb 26,09. Posted with permission.

The recent viewpoint from Bill Garfinkel and company was disingenuous in several ways. They paint anyone with a different opinion as a sewer obstructionist. Those who want a more energy efficient system utilizing proven technologies are lumped in with those who don’t even believe we need a sewer. All are painted as obstructionists who have held up the project for the past 20 years. Yet those signing the viewpoint are a who’s who of the very Solutions Group members who convinced the Coastal Commission to stop the County’s previous effort in 1998! After gaining control of the newly formed CSD, they gave us the TriW project. A project so flawed it did not even make the short list of preferred projects in the recent County analysis.

The County’s Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) determined that a STEP collection system is a feasible alternative that is essentially co-equal in terms of environmental impact as a gravity system. Yes, the DEIR did identify a gravity collection system as the (slightly) environmentally preferred system. And yes, many engineers have been involved with this evaluation. But what did the independent experts at the National Water Research Institute – who were hired by the County to provide a peer review of their consultants work - have to say? That the consulting engineers didn’t seem to be comparing apples to apples when examining STEP and gravity systems. They also stated verbally that they had a hard time not using the word biased to describe the County consultants work.

One of the reasons for the faulty comparison is that a STEP system would utilize small diameter plastic pipe which could be fuse welded to eliminate leaky joints. That state-of-the-art pipe is more expensive and so it was not factored into the gravity collection system estimates. Instead, the traditional PVC pipe with bell& spigot joints sealed by a rubber gasket was used. Using this pipe in an earthquake prone area, especially one with sandy soils and high groundwater, is sure to eventually result in a leaky collection system. Wastewater would leak out into the environment, inviting fines from Water Board. It will allow saltwater to leak into the system. This would cause problems for the treatment plant and could render the treated effluent unusable as a supplement to our water supplies. The County must supply an estimate for each collection system utilizing HDPE or similar fuse-welded pipe.

Another example of the gravity bias is the phantom requirement that STEP (septic) tanks would have to be pumped every five years. This was repeated probably 20 times in the draft EIR, and yet there is no regulatory requirement or scientific basis for this statement. The Water Board’s onsite regulations require inspections every five years (not every two) and pumping as needed

The deep trenches of a gravity collection system would cause a major disruption to the streets of our community during construction. The expense of street repairs would be much higher than that resulting from the horizontal boring associated with the small diameter pipe of a STEP system. On lot disturbance would actually be about the same with each system. Yes, septic tanks would be traded for upgraded STEP tanks. But the existing septic tanks would need to be uncovered as part of decommissioning for the gravity system anyway. And the County has stated that on lot disturbance could be minimized by placing the STEP tanks at the edge of the street right-of-way in some cases.

The STEP system would have a ½ horsepower pump in each yard to pump the STEP tank effluent to the treatment plant. But the gravity system would have 20 pump stations throughout town, with up to 60 horsepower pumps at these stations. Each pump station would require at least annual maintenance, exposing neighbors to noise and odors each time.

The monitoring and alarms of the STEP system would not be maintained by the property owner, it would be the responsibility of the agency operating the sewer system. This alarm system is actually a benefit; it notifies the operator immediately of problems with the system. A gravity system could leak for an undetermined period of time before a problem was noticed.

Much has been said of the need for haste in having a shovel ready project to capture economic stimulus monies that might be available. By definition, the design-build process the County has established is shovel ready.

The timing of the County’s community survey is curious. Why not wait until the responses to the DEIR comments have been released? The results of the proposals submitted as part of the design-build process would have revealed true costs and that is critical information. The key factor for many will be the cost of the project. The DEIR acknowledged that a STEP system would be cheaper to build than a gravity system. The only way to know this for sure is to allow a fair competition in the design-build process and have a STEP proposal among those under consideration.

28 comments:

Shark Inlet (a.k.a. Stiv Neener) said...

Chuck's outrage about the timing of the community survey is disingenuous. Had it been before the TAC reports or the DEIR, he would have complained that the community needed more info to reach a decision and had it been after the DEIR comments were all received but before the revision of the EIR he would have complained that the community would be misled by some of the comments but if the survey would be after the revision of the EIR, he would complain that the EIR should have incorporated community input thru the survey.

There is no one "right" time to take a survey. Polls change thru the election season. We simply need to recognize that the survey is at the time it is and that opinions change.

Largely, as Ann says, the community is nearly completely disengaged in the process because they see how the process has become so contentious and how it keeps getting more expensive every time we turn around and when people keep asking for more and more delay. We can only hope the decreased construction costs help us and that we can get some federal money now that the US government is more willing to pump money into the economy for public works projects.

TCG said...

When did Mr.Cesena issue his Board's community survey of project alternatives when they were responsible for developing a project? I must have missed it.

What's the old saying,if you can't do it, teach it?

Aaron said...

Chuck is trying to stay relevant, but the fact of the matter is that he had missed numerous opportunities to -- as TCG said -- issue his own community survey of project alternatives.

At least he would have shown an honest attempt to find a consensus.

Churadogs said...

Inlet sez:"Largely, as Ann says, the community is nearly completely disengaged in the process because they see how the process has become so contentious and how it keeps getting more expensive every time .."

If 40% fail to return this survey, as 40% failed to return the last survey, then the community remains as disengaged as ever it was. I think the BOS is supposed to have the final survey tally and discuss it during the Sewer Portion of Tuesday's meeting? That missing number will be very interesting to me.

Mike said...

Why would ANY number be "interesting" to Ann...???

What could she do with any statistic...??? She is simply trying to delay any sewer at any location in Los Osos....!!!!! She will cheer on any solution, if STEP becomes the sewer system chosen, she will immmediately fire off another of her opinions against that solution. If Gravity is chosen she will of course be off opining against that system... No "Process" will ever be perfect enough, no solution ever sustainable enough... Anything to further delay any solution...

She makes up her "facts" as if she were some knowledgeable journalist when in fact, she is nothing but a Gossip Columnist... Ann adds nothing to the dtermination of a solution to the continueing pollution of Los Osos's drinking water source... Only complains that the Process is faulty, that the RWQCB hasn't done enough research, that the drinking water is not polluted, but that the magic sands of Los Osos filter out all her crap...

All Ann Calhoun really is, is a Gossip Columnist and not very good at that either...

Shark Inlet (a.k.a. Stiv Neener) said...

I guess one key question here is why the community is largely disengaged when only as recently as 1998 and 2004 and 2005 they were considerably more so. (If Ann wants a 100% response rate or even 80% she'll never get it ... even if Hitler were running against Gandhi for Pope, I suspect that no more than 80% of ballots would be returned.)


On reason the responses will be lower than on a real vote is that a real vote happens during an election time and there is a campaign period and people get to vote for all sorts of other nifty things like President, school board and Mountain Lion protection bonds.

Even so, I suspect that some who were hopeful that forming the LOCSD could help our community out and some who were hopeful that recalling the old board could help our community out ... yes ... some in each group ... have become convinced that the whole sewer question is best left to professionals.


On the wording on the survey, I don't think it was as bad as some here have complained about. It reasonably did tackle questions which would allow a person to express their opinions on STEP vs gravity and whether lower construction costs or lower monthly O&M, the importance of aquifer recharge and what have you. They even considered questions like how much more would you be willing to pay to get X as opposed to Y?


I rather doubt that any results presented at the BOS on Tuesday will be complete or coherent. The surveys said that they should be returned by the 27th and I am sure that some people mailed them on the 27th, so they'll arrive on Monday and to do anything other than simple summaries by question (as opposed to looking for more complex patterns in the data) cannot be done by Tuesday.


Lastly, because the failure to reply folks ... um ... didn't reply ... they cannot be viewed as anything but acquiescing to whatever the County comes up with ... just like those that didn't vote on the recall were willing to go with a recall or no recall ... they didn't care. I don't understand it fully, but that is what they were saying.

The missing number is a measure of disengagement, not of opinion.

M said...

Nearly four years since Tri-W stopped, 26 years since 8313 came into being, and the County gives us one week to sumarize and respond with answers that quite honestly would require a great deal of knowledge to answer questions such as "would you pay this to get that?" How in the world can I answer that when I don't have any idea what this or that cost?
Are you kidding me, one week? How much weight does this survey carry in the final equation?
Sincerely, M

Mike said...

M... YOU, like Calhoun will never be satisfied with any "Process" or poposed solution... The community has had more than adequate time to explore every know solution to the problem... but there are the small group of vocal extremists who want no solution...

If the BOS were allowed to cut off you obstructionists and let the County Engineers proceed without all the BS. Los Osos would already have had a sewer... OH? You don't want a sewer? You only want a perfect solution?

Well M, the CSD had a soution and had it started 4 years ago... but thanks to the handful of crazed extremists, they sucessfully lied their way into office and halted a very legal sewer... We would all be connect and the Water Board would have been off our backs... Go thank Gail and Lisa and Ann and Al and Chuck... The screwed the solution up and had absolutely no Plan except to delay and cause as much addtional expense as possible...
Don't bother complaining about the survey or the results...the BOS is going to go forward inspite of the obstructionists objections and, oh yes, they will have another lawsuit... but the sewer is coming to Los Osos... Lindy, Julie, Gail, maybe this is the time for you to move somewhere else... Ann, keep up the gossip column, your "opinion" means less and less each day....!!!!

M said...

Since i'm paying for it: I'll be satisfied when I am given a choice of having this here for this much, or that there for that much. Whatever is decided upon I am fine with.
As long as it is not Tri-W.

If the BOS were allowed to cut off you obstructionists.

Words I copied from Mike's post. I hope I don't live to see the day when that can happen.
Sincerely, M

Mike said...

M... YOU and your silly friends are not interested in working toward a solution, only obstruction and expensive delays...

I do firmly believe you have totally abused the "right to free speech"....!!! YOUR never ever compromising position tells me that you will never be happy with any waste water treatment in Los Osos... Beyond the sewer war, this derisiveness by the uncompromising minority of the extremists fighting the sewer solution is a disturbing view of the destruction of the democratic society... Have we reached the point where there is too much freedom of speech without accountability for the lies that the extremists depend on...???

Has society given up to the extremists who will fight any cause as if their personal lives depend on their view or nothing...??? Who said there would only be a WWTF on Tri-W site over her dead body...??? Who said he could tie up any sewer in court forever...???

It's time to quit giving those extremists their weekly 3 minutes to vent their lies and threats...!!!!!!

Watershed Mark said...

MIKE: The "very legal" sewer you refer to above was a "leaker".
Can't install a pipe that knowingly pollutes in the PZ, it wouldn't be legal.

See how much better off the environment when cooler heads prevailed.

Leaky sewers who needs them? Who would want one?

History will show that those patriots who are standing between you and a bad result which you call "obstructionists" are the real heros in this equation.

Should the county re-write its DEIR to accomdate sealed gravity it would be because of the common sense exhibited by them, not you.

When ECOfluid and other small diameter collection systems are added to a revised DEIR then contractors who will design, bid/build the systems will have a complete selection fro which to build a first class energy efficient solution.

Watershed Mark said...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mission_creep

Mission creep is the expansion of a project or mission beyond its original goals, often after initial successes.[1] The term often implies a certain disapproval of newly adopted goals by the user of the term. Mission creep is usually considered undesirable due to the dangerous path of each success breeding more ambitious attempts, only stopping when a final, often catastrophic, failure occurs. The term was originally applied exclusively to military operations, but has recently been applied to many different fields, mainly the growth of bureaucracies.

Watershed Mark said...

Scope creep (also called focus creep, requirement creep, feature creep, and sometimes kitchen sink syndrome) in project management refers to uncontrolled changes in a project's scope. This phenomenon can occur when the scope of a project is not properly defined, documented, or controlled. It is generally considered a negative occurrence that is to be avoided.

Typically, the scope increase consists of either new products or new features of already approved product designs, without corresponding increases in resources, schedule, or budget. As a result, the project team risks drifting away from its original purpose and scope into unplanned additions. As the scope of a project grows, more tasks must be completed within the budget and schedule originally designed for a smaller set of tasks. Thus, scope creep can result in a project team overrunning its original budget and schedule.

If the budget and schedule are increased along with the scope, the change is usually considered an acceptable addition to the project, and the term “scope creep” is not used.

Scope creep can be a result of:

disingenuous customer with a determined value for free policy
poor change control
lack of proper initial identification of what is required to bring about the project objectives
weak project manager or executive sponsor
poor communication between parties
Agile software development based on subjective quantifications.
Scope creep is a risk in most projects. Most megaprojects fall victim to scope creep (see Megaprojects and risk).[citation needed] Scope creep often results in cost overrun. A value for free strategy is difficult to counteract and remains a difficult challenge for even the most experienced project managers.

Watershed Mark said...

The definition of the expert panel is assignment of individuals who have the detailed
knowledge of the existing situation complimented by others with overall knowledge of the
treatment operation, related City initiatives and financial analysis skills. For this analysis the
expert panel consisted of City of Olympia employees as well as a member from the utility
advisory committee. The expert team is listed in Appendix B.

http://www.orenco.com/pdfs/olympia_response.pdf

Sewertoons said...

I just re-read part of Chuck's viewpoint.

"The STEP system would have a ½ horsepower pump in each yard to pump the STEP tank effluent to the treatment plant. But the gravity system would have 20 pump stations throughout town, with up to 60 horsepower pumps at these stations. Each pump station would require at least annual maintenance, exposing neighbors to noise and odors each time."

We are only talking collections systems here so let's do the math. Let's see - 20 pump stations at UP TO 60 HP each. Let's assume they ARE 60 each - so that equals 1200 HP total. 4500 homes at 1/2HP each so 4500 x .5HP = 2250 HP. Looks like gravity wins as for the LEAST HP as stated by Chuck with his parameters given.

As there is controversy as to the inspection times and the pumping times, why don't we assume for the sake of this argument that the tanks will need to be only inspected every 5 years, not pumped. Inspection means opening up the tank, exposing the smells contained therein. (Some will need to be pumped though, probably just to be inspected and some will need to be pumped because they are full.) Naturally that will need to be done gradually and not on all in one day. Let's say there will need to be 4500 tanks inspected. 4500 divided by 5 years equals 900 inspected per year. Assume inspections go on 5 working days a week, that gives us 260 days to do all the work. 900 tanks divided by 260 days means about 3.5 will need to be done per day, thus exposing neighbors to odors DAILY -- and ( I won't comment on the noise - hopefully some folks will be at work) --to get us up to yearly - that will be about 900 exposures to stench YEARLY. Can we assume that some tanks will need to be pumped too? Add in more stench. Especially as time passes, more tanks will need pumping, so the stench rate will ramp up.

Chuck talks about pump stations -20 pump stations - odors and noise yearly for maintenance- 20 odor events yearly.

What point is Chuck REALLY trying to make about step?

Watershed Mark said...

I won't comment on the HP issue.
The folks who live next to the man holes and lift stations may be subject odors everyday.

After re-reading Bill's TAC report linked up by "THE MAN" on the post above, many items are left out.

On lot costs of LPS vacuum or grinder pump systems would included thereby reducing further the finacial impact to the homeowner.

That is a glaring hole of missing information that you all will unnecessarily pay for.

Same thing can be said for the missing USBF treatment comparisons.

The energy useage of USBF is one half that of ox-ditch while providing tertiary treatment and almost one third the energy required by Bio-Lac.

Capital and O&M costs are significantly less for a USBF system.

Why was this technology not studied?

Watershed Mark said...

Leaky sewerage, it isn't good news for the current county path.

The words of Lou Tornorsky and Jotce Albright ring so very hollow.

Sewertoons said...

Interesting to see how the BOS meeting went today. We have 27% of the surveys returned as of Monday, but John Waddell could only report on the 13% they had when they could make a tally. Of that 13%, only 9% wanted step/steg, 72% wanted gravity. Well, looks like some people have woken up!

Ann was in attendance, so it will be fun to see her spin on how step/steg is actually ahead!

Watershed Mark said...

Lyneete,

Some people still haven't woken up yet.
Looks like they beginning to "get it"...

Watershed Mark said...

Looks like they "r" beginning to "get it"...

Churadogs said...

Toonces sez:"Ann was in attendance, so it will be fun to see her spin on how step/steg is actually ahead!"

Gee, not that Toonces has both tried and hanged me before I've even typed so much as a word? Think the word for that is "prejudice?" It's that kind of stuff that destroys your credibility when you come on this blog and pretend to be factual, informed, fair, neutral, unbiased, & etc. Pretty funny.

Toonces also sez:"72% wanted gravity. Well, looks like some people have woken up!"

That number doesn't surprise me at all. This town was ready to roll for the October Compromise, gravity, plant out of town, etc. However, that preference may get interesting IF another system comes in at saving more than $50 a month -- at that point 66% (of those survey's processed) will have to rethink their gravity choice. As I noted on my blog posting (the one Toonces knows, in advance, is "spun," Toonces being able to see (accurately) into the future, the report was PRELIMINARY and the numbers will change , but I dont' think the choices/rankings will change much.

Sewertoons said...

Ann, you are FAMOUS for spin. Here today's example:
"However, that preference may get interesting IF another system comes in at saving more than $50 a month -- at that point 66% (of those survey's processed) will have to rethink their gravity choice."

Ann, at this point in time, there isn't a second survey, the choice will be up to the Supes. The choice is not going to be ours. I think people understood when the survey said, "I prefer a gravity system, I am not interested in a STEP/STEG system at any cost savings," that is what it actually meant and cast their vote to say just that.

There is NO system that will come in over $50/month savings, the County is coming up with that number as the BEST case scenario for step. The other technologies were ruled out ages ago as too expensive in the Rough Screening Report. Your "rethinking" phrase is just YOU expressing your wishful -spin,spin,spin - thinking. Thank you for proving my point so promptly.

Churadogs said...

Toonces sez:"Your "rethinking" phrase is just YOU expressing your wishful -spin,spin,spin - thinking. Thank you for proving my point so promptly."

Sorry, but you proved nothing. I'm just expressing an opinion, which is what I regularly do on my "opinion" blog and in my "opinion" column. One of the weirder mantras that keep appearing here, repeated endlessly by you and parroted by others, is that I "spin" whenever I express an opinion or say anything, for that matter. What is it about an opinion blog and an opinion column you don't understand? Everyone who logs on to comment, including you, expresses an opinion. I could certainly claim that everything you say is "spin." It isn't, it's opinion and it's either opinion backed up by some sort of objective reality or is made up out of thin air, but it's still opinion.

Sewertoons said...

Opinion can be spin when it is based on unreality.

Shark Inlet (a.k.a. Stiv Neener) said...

Spin is the use of rhetorical devices to convince others of your opinion.

An argument is when you use facts and reason to convince others of your point of view.

Both are reasonable.


Most often differences in opinion are rooted in different goals or perspectives. The person who wants the cheapest possible solution might have a disagreement with the person who says that the solution must be affordable. Both goals are related to the cost and both are laudable goals and both *should* agree ... but we know full well that in Los Osos they don't because those who want affordable often insist that the current proposals are unaffordable and therefore unacceptable and therefore are asking for more study or a new technology or something like that. On the other hand, the people who want the cheapest solution are disagree with those who say they want affordable because history suggests that affordability will never happen so why not stop dilly-dallying around and get it done as quickly as possible so that we won't have yet another round of stupidity and cost increases.

The County's survey is pretty clear ... if, in reality, STEP (or magic elves ... whatever) would save people a considerable amount of money, they would prefer it to gravity.

Sewertoons said...

The bid cost that comes back is only PART of the actual cost to the homeowner -- costs that the homeowner needs to find for him/herself - driveway replacement, landscape, fence, wall replacement, possible electrical panel upgrade, or at least payment for work to add a circuit. The homeowner will need to see if they can:
1. Have the cash to pay for this up front.
2. Be able to finance this up front.

These costs will go on top of the monthly step project costs. I think the Supes/County staff will be aware of a ballpark on these costs to the homeowner.

Churadogs said...

Inlet sez:"An argument is when you use facts and reason to convince others of your point of view."

Actually, "facts" can be spun. One of the things I've repeated is that if anyone tries to give an accurate, "factual" account of anything having to do with the Sewer Wars, they would need about 70 footnotes for every "fact" mentioned, since leaving out so much as one "explanation/expansion/additional facts" would result in "spin." You give a perfect example in " . . .The person who wants the cheapest possible solution might have a disagreement with the person who says that the solution must be affordable." Problem? Define "affordable." Without that definition, any discussion will be "spin" since different people will use the word to mean different things, then claim the other is "spinning." Ditto for the use of the word "obstructionists." And so forth. So no matter what anyone says, without 70 footnotes it can all be called "spin."

Here's a more useful definition: Spin is whatever you say that I happen to disagree with. That's "spin."

Watershed Mark said...

Here's another:
Shark Inlet (a.k.a. Stiv Neener) said...
Mark,

I'm not gonna waste my time backing up an offhand comment I made. If I was wrong, it was an offhand comment and no big deal. If you want to spend time showing I was mistaken, great and if I was wrong, that would be awesome. We'll deal with it if you take the time to demonstrate my error. Hell, I'll admit it now, I may have been mistaken about the aquifer Phoenix using being in overdraft. I might have been thinking of some other town. Big deal.

Just Spin Baby...