The following appeared in the Feb 24, 09, Tribune. This is the Viewpoint with a few added notes by author McPherson.
Regarding Bill Garfinkel's Viewpoint, "It's time to speak out on sewer options" (Feb. 17):
All residents of Los Osos should have received a community survey in the mail from the county by now. It is important that every resident of LosOsos return this survey.
Apart from which system you might prefer, please let the county processwork. Paavo Ogren, County Public Works director, wisely proclaimed that ifneither side is allowed to hijack the Los Osos project, the county processwill result in a new Los Osos project that the community can embrace, evenif parts are not what each individual envisioned or advocated. Mr. Garfinkelseeks to short circuit the county process by eliminating options.
In accordance with the special legislation AB2701, the process developed bythe county has worked diligently to identify several viable options for theLos Osos wastewater project. The detailed project reports and permitdocuments put forth a co-equal analysis which will lead to competitivepricing and lower costs to the consumer/community. The county-managedwastewater project is now entering into the competitive design-build processto assure that a project is selected based on best value, not on amateurishopinions or scare tactics to eliminate options.
As pointed out in Mr. Garfinkel¹s Viewpoint, the most costly piece of theproject is the collection system, and two types of systems are proposed.Eighty million dollars is budgeted for whichever is selected as the bestvalue for the community. Estimates to date indicate gravity must beredesigned water tight, will save money if redirected out of town, and willcost more to install. STEP will cost less. This is quitethreatening to original Tri-W contractors, and will surely drive competitivepricing lower for either system selected.
I am not advocating either, and regardless of your position on the type ofcollection system, making the options compete head-to-head is what will giveLos Osos the real-world costs for an informed decision. So why narrowchoices now?
The county has focused on two strategies to lower the cost of the project:1) financing; The county has negotiated 30-year, 0 percent financing. The stimulus package has two significant features that concerns Los Osos; Provisions to forgive old debt for disadvantaged communities, and incentives for green projects to be funded above others.2)
Competitive pricing: To assure against price slip that killed the last project, the county is processing the design-build as a fixed price guarantee in the competitive proposals.Unfortunately, hijacking the competitive process byeliminating options is exactly what the Viewpoint is seeking to accomplish.
The group of original veteran obstructionists (Solutions group and nowcalled Taxpayers Watch) has used Garfinkel to violate all trust and decencytoward the county process (and community preferences’) to shamelessly lobby for just one choice---the gravity collection option. This effort to bypass the AB 2701 county community survey before it was in the mail stinks!
Isn't it enough they screwed up the Tri-W project with an amateur CommunityServices District and gobs of similar misinformation? That the project coststripled while they simply forgot a 218 assessment vote? Breaking ground on a rejected project bankrupted the district and shattered the community.
The Viewpoint seeks to achieve a noncompetitive sole source deal for the rejected collection design. Don't allow any group to defeat the countyprocess by eliminating options.
Let's stay the course and complete the Blakeslee AB 2701 vetting process, with full construction and lifecycle cost guarantees for both the STEP and gravity options. If one system costs substantially less and does the job, let the community decide if they want to choose it.
Please write in on your survey: "Dear supervisors: I want both systems (STEPvs. gravity) included in competitive proposals with a guaranteed maximumprice, including full life cycle operation and maintenance costs for bothcollection systems."Or e-mail the important message to the Board of Supervisors at:www.slocounty.ca.gov/bos/BOSContactUs.htm
Gail McPherson is a retired wastewater systems manager and serves asexecutive director of Citizens for Clean Water.
P.S. These two statements in Garfinkel’s piece absolutely misrepresent the County position and the facts:
1. “The “better solutions” have either not been tested in similar environments, been deemed highly unlikely to pass approval by governing agencies or been dismissed as too costly.”
“The options from the County process are ALL VIABLE—this finding is based on the alternatives track record, cost and community acceptability.” (Co. report)
2.”Those who claim it is not “green” enough are ignoring the large additional costs associated with developing alternate energy to drive the plant or treat solid wastes to higher levels.”
The TW obstructionists wrongly assumes Environmental 'Green' technology will cost more, In fact the County & industry reports indicate that project with "minimal environmental impacts" actually can lower costs in the construction phase and over the life of the project. Reserve for Green, Efficient, Innovative Projects: That, to the extent there are sufficient eligible project applications, not less than 20 percent of the funds appropriated herein for the Revolving Funds shall be for projects to address green infrastructure, water or energy efficiency improvements or other environmentally innovative activities” (SRF briefing doc)
Last, Green has lots of definitions, but it is a real stretch to call the collection system that flows by gravity “green.” Gravity flows down hill like the STEG until the hill stops. Then a lift station is required to pump it. Los Osos is hilly—at least 12 stations and pumps and back up power for each---hello? Disposal is up hill too!
I know either collection system if properly designed, constructed, and operated will work. NOW it is about preferences, but more IT IS ABOUT THE PRICE. Don’t you at least want to find out? Blakeslee thought we should, and so did the County, even with Puppet Bill Garfinkel as TAC Chair pulling strings.