In case you were idly wondering about the Regional Water Quality Control Board’s CDO Mad Hatter Tea Party and Torquemada’s Auto de Fe CDO prosecution of The Los Osos 45 . . . oh, that’s right, you’ve forgotten all about those poor people who were terrorized, branded criminals, had their freedom threatened with statutory jail time, their property put under threat, dragged through a ridiculous, abusive “trial” that kept changing whimsically when the Board and staff’s incompetence kept tripping them over their own feet . . . and you thought to yourself, What in hell was THAT hideously expensive (tax payers picking up the bill) farce all about, anyway? Was it about clean water? Was it about protecting the waters of the State of California? Was it about stopping pollution? Was it about septic tanks? What was it about?
Well, now we know. One of the CDO holders sold their home and called the RWQCB staff to ask what happened to their CDO since they didn’t intend to dig up their septic tank and take it with them, you know, their illegally discharging septic tank that was polluting the waters of the state of California, the one that was under a CDO?
Well, the reply finally came back and here it is. Let me translate it for you. (1) All pigs are created equal, but some are created more equal than others. (2) Septic tanks in the PZ don’t pollute. Only septic tanks with CDO’s on them do. And when the CDO-holding “criminal” residents sell their property and leave (and leave their “criminal” septic tank in the ground when they move) the new residents using the exact same tank don’t pollute and are not “criminals” and are of no concern to the RWQCB, which does not intend to enforce their CDO policies equally and fairly to all residents in the PZ. CDO’s were clearly a sick joke, a clear abuse of state power that was only intended as an intimidation tactic, and electioneering device, that had NOTHING to do with either “fair and equitable treatment” (not even among the 45 CDO holders . . more equal pigs) or “science” or, hell, even “clean water.”
From a Sept 23, 2009 letter to a Los Osos CDO holder, from Frances McChesney, Senior Staff Counsel, State Water Board
Enforcement of Cease and Desist Orders
Mr. Michael Thomas has asked me to respond to your emails with respect to enforcement of cease and desist orders (CDOs) regarding septic tanks in Los Osos. In particular, you have questions with regard to the following section of Mr. Harvey Packard’s letter to you dated August 18 2009
What requirements does a CDO impose when a CDO holder moves or sells the subject property?
The pertinent parts of the cease and desist order state the following:
3. Discharger shall inform any subsequent owner or occupant at the Site of this Order and provide a copy of the Order. The Discharger is liable for the use of the Septic System, while the Discharger owns the Site, including but not limited to the use of the Septic System by any tenant or any other person occupying the Site.
4. The property owner shall notify the Executive Officer and the Staff Prosecution Team in writing of any transfer of ownership of the Site within 30 calendar days following close of escrow or transfer of record title after transfer of ownership.
CDO holders are required to inform the new owner and the Water Board if they sell the property. However, the order is silent on the issue of whether the order continues in effect after the sale of the property. It is the enforcement team’s position that the order is no longer in effect upon sale of the property, either upon the original CDO holder or upon the new owner.
The Advisory Team agrees with the statements in Mr. Packard’s letter. The Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board (Water Board) would consider the issue of the responsibility of the past and current owner to comply with a CDO only if the Enforcement Team brought an enforcement action after the property is sold, which, as Mr. Packard’s letter states, they do not intend to do. Therefore, the Water Board itself cannot make a decision or comment on this issue now, without a proposed enforcement action from the Enforcement Team. If the matter did come before the Water Board, I, as the Advisory Team attorney, would advise the Water Board that the existing CDO does not apply to the new owner or the previous owner once the property is sold. Water code section 13301, which pertains to the issuance of CDOs authorizes the issuance of CDOs against the current owner or operator, not the previous owner or operator. To enforce against new owners, the Water Board would need to issue a new CDO.
With respect to the existing CDOs, penalties only accrue from the date of any violation of a CDO, not back to 1988. If a CDO recipient is not violating a CDO, no penalties are owned or accruing at this time. In addition, enforcement of any CDO is not mandatory.