Friday, May 06, 2011

We're All Los Osos Now, Baby

Awww, Gawwwdd. It was simply too, too perfect. There was the April 29th “Viewpoint” in the Tribune, an earnest Cri de Coeur from Atascadero Mayor, Tom O’Malley and the city council members bewailing the upcoming Regional Water Quality Control Board’s May 5th meeting.

Remember the RWQCB’s “stealth basin plan update?” Wherein they sent around post-card “notices” with lots of argle-bargle printed on it, post-cards that were more than likely to end up in the trash with the junque mail. So, naturally no residents would show up at the update meetings, so whatever the RWQCB wanted to put into the plan went into the plan and now, here’s the stealth plan, kaBloom! rolled out and ready to be voted on.

And the Mayor is howling. Claiming that the regulations would impact all properties in the city that use septic tanks. That the ordinances would impinge on property rights by prohibiting “secondary residences on parcels less than 2 acres,” require the city to “identify and address areas of potential groundwater that may be degraded by septic systems,” “verify that existing and proposed systems are constructed and maintained in accordance with strict standards which could include inspections,” possibly call for more extensive and expensive septic systems, and “prohibit self-regenerating water softeners.”

Notes the Viewpoint:” “We have steadfastly opposed the regulations; and in addition, the Atascadero Mutual Water Company has tested groundwater near all wells and found no issue with Atascadero’s water quality. The City Council believes strongly that the proposals are not warranted” . . . and that “There have been an insignificant number of failures of septic systems, and this magnitude of increased regulatory oversight is unnecessary.”

Bwa-hahahahah. Awwww, poor babies. I have two words for them: Los Osos.

And then, on May 1, came another Viewpoint, this one from Richard S. Quandt, president and general counsel of the Grower-Shipper Association of Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties. His clients – farmers in both counties – have discovered that the RWQCB’s two-year’s work on enforcement of the State’s new rules on groundwater pollution from agriculture, was continuing it’s public comment hearings here in SLOTown, and apparently a whole lot of farmers (and their lawyers) were not amused.

Wrote Quandt:” “Board staff has attempted to justify this regulatory expansion by presenting facts that, when examined, are found to contain omissions, anomalies and unfounded assumptions.

“Instead of creating a complete and science-based factual record upon which to base public policy recommendations, board staff has already determined the direction and is advocating for its position by manipulating information.”

And, “Poorly thought-out policy recommendations take place when government regulators isolate themselves and refuse to vet their predetermined policies with those who will be subject to them. Is it any wonder that board staff agreed to a total of just two meetings with the agricultural working group in the past 24 months?”

Well, Mr. Quandt, I have two words for you, too: Los Osos.

I mean, this is the same staff that gave us the Mad Hatter Tea Party and Torquemada’s Auto De Fe “Trial” of The Los Osos 45. This is the same staff and board that singled out, targeted and slapped CDOs on 45 Los Osos citizens, claiming they were doing it in the name of water quality. But the CDOs did not stay with the property’s septic tank. When the CDO holder sells and moves, the CDO goes away. What homeowner digs up his septic tank and takes it with him when he moves? Right. Nobody. So this CDO was never about “water quality,” or even septic tanks. It was an illegal act of electioneering and a complete abuse of regulatory power used to terrorize a handful of people as an example to a town in order to influence their vote.

And now Atascadero and the good farmers in Santa Barbara and SLO counties are going to find out what Los Ososians have known for years.

Mayor O’Malley meet Mr. Briggs. Mr. Briggs, Mr. O’Malley. Mr. Quandt? Mr. Briggs. Mr. Briggs, Mr. Quandt.

Too delicious a scenario to miss, which is why I headed into the Aero Vista St. RWQCB meeting room, which was packed. Two board members recused themselves on account of they owned irrigated land and the Board is short one member, so there wasn’t a quorum. Which meant there could be no final vote, only a recommendation from the remaining panel.

Since the meeting was a continuation of the one that started in Watsonville, it started in the middle of public comment from a whole bunch of irritated farmers asserting the usual:

-- objections over process, confusion over what would or would not be admitted as testimony, a constantly changing draft report making it impossible to comment sint it was always a moving target.

--the proposed ordinances requiring another level of regulations to help clean up nitrates in groundwater caused by ag practices shouldn’t just target farmers but should it everyone

-- the program shouldn’t be mandatory, should be voluntary. The regs are a one-size-fits-all, which means they won’t fit anybody. The reporting rules are onerous, the staff doesn’t know what they’re talking about, the program is setting farmers up for failure after which they’ll be prosecuted.

-- the science being used is based on inaccurate info, the staff report seems to behave as if nitrates in groundwater are a point source issue, not a non-point source issue, there are too many anomalies, incorrect data .

--the cost of this program will be onerous and may take ag land out of production or cause farmers to go out of business.

If you’re a Los Ososian, all of this will sound sadly familiar.

But the best discourse of the day came from Mr. Edward Hard, from the Department of Food and Agriculture, Fertilizer Research & Education Program, Division of Inspection Services, State of California, who stood at the podium for quite some time and quietly tried to point out that part of the regulation targets that are based on nitrogen uptake values of crops, one of the key target numbers that farmers must aim for, is problematic since there are no scientific studies that correctly give those uptake values.

In other words, the RWQCB wrote a draft ordinance that basically requires a regulation based on no known science – just grabbed some kind of “average” number, for example, then wrote an ordinance that required farmers to somehow to meet that number, even though that number had no known science to back it up as accurate or even realistic. And if that target is missed, the farmer could face enforcement and fines. And scientifically evaluating those uptake numbers on even two crops would take two years and as over 200 crops are involved, getting a real number could take years and years, which we don’t have because nitrate pollution from ag is rising and is a serious problem that can’t wait.

After which another Ph.D soil scientist guy quietly pointed out that part of his PhD was to look at nitrogen uptake in cotton and the best that particular plant could do was a 50% uptake, not 1:1, so put most simply, farmers have to over-fertilize to get optimum plant uptake, but it’s all much more complex than simply pounds per acre and depends on many, many variables.

In short, the science just isn’t there yet, so it’s more seat-of-pants growing, which may well account for a good deal of the excess nitrogen ending up in the water. And rather than simply setting target numbers, perhaps a better way to go is to set up an irrigation program to create a cadre of highly trained folks who can work with ranchers to better control water and fertility and hence nitrogen use versus just having farmers fill out forms that nobody will read.

All of which caused Chairman Young to exasperatedly crank at the bland Mr. Hard that Dammit, the Board is there to regulate, they’re charged by the State of California to regulate the waters of the state, so by god they’re gonna pass some sort of regulation, then let the farmers (or science) somehow figure it all out later. (If you live in Los Osos, this will sound, really, really familiar.)

Later, at Staff comment time, it was asserted that that mysterious non-scientific uptake number wasn’t what it was in the draft, but something different or, oh, like whatever . . . The farmer I was sitting with, snorted through their nose at that. He was not amused.

And on it went, until the group pushing the Ag Alternative Proposal showed up with piles of new “testimony,” which Chairman Young allowed into the record even though that violated the rules concerning public comment. They were proposing that there was a better way to go, rather than a one well, one farm “regulatory” approach since there’s a real fear and distrust of the Board. That caused Chairman Young to go all treacle and tears, sorrowing and sighing about how “unfortunate” it is that farmers should be fearful of having the hammer of enforcement coming down on them. Which was hilarious. Clearly, Chairman Young has forgotten . . . The Los Osos 45. Ah, how sharp the serpent’s tooth . . .

Instead, the Ag Alt program would work in groups and/or regions and monitor well data in the aggregate while working with cooperative farmers to meet regional goals of reducing overall nitrate numbers. And if a particular farmer in the group balks, or refuses to work to improve his operation, the Ag Group could dump him and leave him to the tender mercies of Roger Briggs.

And it was this plan that Chairman Young bent over backwards to ensure would get a second look and so its various components will be considered as an addendum to the proposed ordinance and it all be returned for a possible vote in Sept.

Thus endeth the Ag ordinance, for the time being. From the grumbles I heard, the farmers in the room left town with a very guarded outlook. But what amazed me was the soft soap the Board served up to the agricultural community. Even Roger Briggs, in his closing remarks, went on and on about how minimal these regs are, how un-burdensome they were, how minimal, how benign. And board member Jefferies went so far as to hand-wring about his deep concerns that these regs should not create a financial burden, that farmers shouldn’t be forced out of their ranches, that businesses be harmed, even though the Board kept reiterating that the nitrate problem was terrible! a crisis! a danger!

Which was ironic. If, as they claimed, nitrate contamination by ag practices were a Terrible Crisis! then the Board needed to single out 45 farmers, slap CDOs on them, put them through a Mat Hatter “trial, threaten them with jail, even “fine them out of existence.”

But, no, there would be no CDOs for these aggies. Instead, everything about this ordinance would be aimed at doing the very least. Which is why nobody should ever underestimate the power of big Ag that arrives en mass with their attorneys. As usual, God bless the child. . . .

On Thursday, it was Atascadero’s time in the barrel as the Board considered voting on the update of the region-wide onsite system implementation plan that was also updated in 2008 & 2009, so the Board maintained that this was no big deal, just a few minor details. Which is how they do these thing: confuse criteria with implementation. Minor update or not, various Atascadero officials and their attorneys showed up to complain that there’s no evidence of ground water problems from septics, no evidence of problems from salt water softeners, no evidence that you need to treat new and old systems differently, the regulations conflict with State law, it doesn’t have a Burden Benefit Analysis as required, the update is premature because the state is still working on their overriding updates so Why is the local RWQCB jumping the gun? Also, there’s no showing (lack of findings) of necessity and authorities for the regulations, CEQA requirements are not met, it constitutes an unfunded mandate, is too costly. And on and on and on.

In short, Atascadero authorities showed up to say, It ain’t broke so why are you fixing it? Which shows that these good folks don’t understand. This isn’t about fixing broken things, it isn’t about science or practical reality. It’s about command and control. It’s about quietly laying the ground work, a few stealth pieces at a time, to carefully create the unchallengeable confusion of criteria and implementation. That is, first pass a resolution, say Resolution 83-13, with a set of rules (criteria) and claim that’s since it’s been voted on it’s a done deal (even though the proposal may not have been finalized by the State Water Board). If these rules (criteria) are challenged in court at this phase, the judge will be told that the resolution (criteria) can only be challenged when they’re implemented (the case is “ripe.”) When that does happens, often years later, the Board then claims that the statute of limitations is long past and so it can’t be challenged. It’s the perfect Major Major Major ploy from “Catch 22.”

But the earnest Atascaderians didn’t understand and kept babbling on about how fine their septic tanks were, how well they were operating, often within a few hundred of feet of their drinking water wells when suddenly, Chairman Young’s nose twitched, his eyes narrowed, his ears perked up to a Boiiiiiing alert point and he quietly asked the babbler whether there were septic tanks located over “potential drinking water.”

Ah, yes, the dog whistle lure of Porter Cologne. The RWQCB doesn’t need science. It doesn’t need facts. As the Board’s attorney reminded the sweet, clueless dim bulbs from Atascadero, if there’s discharges anywhere that “could” impact any water of the State of California, then the RWQCB has the legal authority to prosecute even without any evidence that there actually is any actual pollution. “Could impact” is sufficient to land anyone in the Land of Enforcement. So you can see why Chairman Young’s nose twitched? Yes. “Potential drinking water source?”

Poor Atascadero. They didn’t hear that dog whistle. They didn’t notice the abyss that had been under their feet all along. No legs to stand on. Poor dears.

Unlike the aggies with their lawyers, the City of Atascadero and their lawyers were told, Thanks for stopping by, good luck, here’s the door, if you have any questions, call our staff, Buh-bye. Resolution accepted as is: 6-0.

Like all RWQCB meetings, this one again left me scratching my head. How is it possible that everything the RWQCB does ends up FUBAR? It’s truly amazing. I suspect much of the problem comes from the utter lack of transparency (or common sense) in water law. That’s a Byzantine nightmare realm that nobody can navigate. Add in the absolute lack of transparency, chronic duplicity and constant political manipulation and hidden agendas of the RWQCB and staff, and I suppose FUBAR shouldn’t be a surprise.

And speaking of which: Agenda # 13 was the issuance of a discharge permit for the Los Osos Sewer Project. I wasn’t able to make that hearing on account of having to go up to Atascadero to get my greyhound, the Mighty Finn McCool, out of the emergency hospital up there. (He had some terrible incident late the night before that looked like possible (lethal) bloat but likely turned out to be some weird, extremely painful neck/spine spasm.) So I got to the meeting too late but was told that in addition to the issuance of that waiver, the Board also – finally – had to formally admit that, yes, while they targeted 45 citizens and put them through an insane show trial and slapped them with CDOs, and put the whole community under a building moratorium and locked it into a PZ which forbids discharge of waste into the waters of the state of California, the same RWQCB would now grant the County/Sewer project a formal exemption from Resolution 83-13 and grant permission to . . . . discharge waste into the PZ and into waters of the state of California.

God bless the child . . . .


Sewertoons said...

Those missing the meeting segment on Los Osos missed a good show. Veiled threats from Los Osos citizens: of suing individual members of the Water Board, a demand for compensation if her septic tank is taken away, a new lawsuit, one decision away from being filed - well - the usual in other words.

"…a PZ which forbids discharge of waste into the waters of the state of California, the same RWQCB would now grant the County/Sewer project a formal exemption from Resolution 83-13 and grant permission to . . . . discharge waste into the PZ and into waters of the state of California."

Well, since you missed that part of the meeting, I will elaborate as to what the WB attorney Frances McChesney said about the statement above. The intent was for small, community systems, not large treatment works.

How can you claim that reuseable-on-organic-crops-Title-22-water is waste? It is certainly not comparable to the stuff that bleeds out of our leach lines and leach pits! C'mon now - don't repeat the mantra of obtuse denial.

I hope the Mighty Finn McCool is doing better today.

Churadogs said...

Toonces says:"How can you claim that reuseable-on-organic-crops-Title-22-water is waste? It is certainly not comparable to the stuff that bleeds out of our leach lines and leach pits! C'mon now - don't repeat the mantra of obtuse denial."

Asked and answered at the Mad Hatter Trial, under oath: Anything coming out of the back end of a septic tank -- even sparking clean drinking water from a brand new clean, never-before-used septic tank -- is considered a discharge of waste and is forbidden in the PZ. That the discharged Title 22 water had to get a waiver for "discharge" into the Broderson site is proof that it's considered a "discharge of waste." ( And there's a difference between "discharge" and "recharge.") That's where so much craziness lies. Keep your definitions virtually meaningless in the real world and you can make up any rules and claims you want no matter how absurd. Like the Board's attorney who noted that the law gives the RWQCB authority to go after anyone whose "discharges" COULD impact the waters of the state of Calif. Not, are or have but could, somewhere, somehow, sometime, possibly, maybe, could happen. And the attorney also noted that the law doesn't require proof or evidence, just an assertion. This is nutty stuff completely divorced from reality and is why we end up with FUBARS and Mad Hatter Tea Parties.

FOGSWAMP said...

One good thing about all this is that it has caused others in the County & State to get their finger off the snooz button.

The statewide farm coalitions were given the right to join together and monitor/report/mitigate their runoff contaminent findings to the State for the past 7 years. In some areas even showing a reduction.

Many are asking what the hell this billion dollar program is going to accomplish that they are not already doing.

A good cartoon would depict a plump state or regional waterboard official milking a skinny farm cow, eh?

Sewertoons said...

The "tea party" was done to make Los Osos get a sewer, which due to many reasons, never happened. Even when it was going to happen - i.e. Coastal Commission permit in place, waste discharge permit in place, streets being dug up, it didn't happen. Why would the Water Board trust that ANYTHING was going to happen with a track record like that?

If you don't have a process in place for assessing the quality of water discharged anywhere we all know what will happen. To nitpick words at to the 47 different types of water that might be discharged is equally annoying. Best to have a Board review the output and grant a waiver.

But of course the reasoning behind all of these rules is very annoying to people trying to bust up the PZ.

I think the WB objection, period, was to having septics at all on these dinky lots. There is NO WAY pollution won't happen due to collective waste amounts. To say one house doesn't need to be sewered because it is on top of a hill and the five below it do need to be sewered is not what living in a COMMUNITY is about. To not see that intent in their actions is really playing dense. If you want to nitpick words, fine, go to the State level and try to change the wording, otherwise realize what this is really about and quit complaining. Move to Pacoima if you don't want to hear about stuff like this.

Sewertoons said...

Regarding farm runoff, FOG says:

"In some areas even showing a reduction."

SOME AREAS. With no regulation or no programs just how long would even "some" last?

Bev. De Witt-Moylan said...

Experiencing its Byzantine convolutions myself, I find the CCRWQCB's regulating activity once again aptly described in this quote from The City of Falling Angels by John Berendt:

"“You must keep in mind,” he said, “that Venice is a very Byzantine city. That explains a lot of things. For example: If you are a property owner, you are responsible for making certain repairs to your property. But before you make those repairs, you must get a permit, and permits are very difficult to come by. You find yourself having to bribe city officials to give you a permit so you can make repairs that those very officials would fine you for not making, or for making without a permit.”

FOGSWAMP said...

Toons sez "To say one house doesn't need to be sewered because it is on top of a hill and five below it do not need to be sewered is not what living in a COMMUNITY is all about"

Well hallaluuuula, I never thought you would ever get that message.

You were referring to Cabrillo Heights right?

Sewertoons said...

Actually, no. My neighborhood. I'm way above groundwater up on a hill, but my neighbors below are not.

To sewer Cabrillo would be hugely more expensive. I don't want to pay more than I'm paying now! But don't worry, their time will come and they will have to pay for the whole thing up there. They might wind up moving to the ex-PZ where the sewer rates are cheaper.

FOGSWAMP said...

Toons ..... You say "I don't want to pay more than I am paying now".

I really can't blame you for that.

That's what all the have-nots in town are screaming about.

By the way, have you read the Cal Poly and State Hazardous Liquefaction reports about how dangerous our basin really is, as I asked you on this blog earlier and you didn't reply?

Also, do you now realize how unbelievably shallow our entire PZ groundwater really is, as I pointed out to you, in the 30 well depths used in the County exhibit?

That's why I think it was never mentioned and sorta swept under the rug to put in a gravity system that gets our raw pathogens deep- down in the event of an earthquake,
where it can do the most damage..

Sewertoons said...

Sorry if I didn't reply FOG; I don't recall why I didn't. Where can I find those Cal Poly and State Hazardous Liquefaction reports, I don't have them and would be happy to answer you if I could read them.

Yes, those wells are fairly shallow. Getting rid of the septics will help with that problem by lowering the depth of the ground water.

Nobody gets (or cares apparently) that we are sending raw pathogens directly into groundwater right now with some of our our numerous leach pits! The Step people point out all the gravity flaws with the old and poorly maintained systems and fail to acknowledge that many old and well maintained systems are not leaking at all, the newer pipe material will not split the way clay and iron will, and that there is quite a bit of flex with bell and spigot pipes.

Churadogs said...

Toonces sez:"The "tea party" was done to make Los Osos get a sewer,"

Electioneering is illegal, toonces. So's abuse of regulartory authorities & etc. That's one of the huge problems here, when you have Governments breaking their own laws.
Toonces sez:"To nitpick words at to the 47 different types of water that might be discharged is equally annoying."
Toonces, the LAW is made up of words. Words count in law. One mis-used, poorly defined word can put you in jail or cause you to lose your home. When governments start writing regulations that are Humpty-Dumptyish ("When I use a word it means exactly what I say it shall me, nothing more nor less.") and then starts shifting word goal posts and creating insane, scientifically unsupportable "words," that leads not only to regulatory abuse and illegalities, it creats situations that are constantly FUBARed, which is exactly what happened here.

None of this was rocket science. What was needed here from day one was clarity (in WORDS, those nit-picky words), sound, defensible science, and a lack of hidden agendas (from day one RWQCB has been playing Hobson's Choice while pretending they weren't. They have cherry picked from various water laws while playing slight of hand with other water codes, then pretended that they weren't, they've electioneered, for example, then flat out lied that that was what they were doing, in short they've been doing a whole raft of totally unnecessary things and that has constantly FUBARed everything along the way.

Their MO was on display again with both the Ag and Atascadero hearings, Humpty Dumpty and Mad Hatter Tea Party all over again and TOTALLY UNNECESSARY. Which makes me think for some reason this particular staff and board is genetically prone to FUBARism. It's bizarre to watch.

Sewertoons said...

Electioneering? How about regulating! Don't think any laws were broken either, although apparently opinions differ even in the light of the squashed PZLDF lawsuit. (Or perhaps you are criticizing Ms. Sullivan's lawyering skills?)

Their mistakes were (1) Not CDO-ing all of us at once and (2) The bi-monthly pumping idea was unnecessary and dumb.

Please outline a solution that the Water Board could have used to get wastewater treatment in Los Osos other than the one that they did use. Keep in mind people do nothing if asked nicely.

(And the Los Osos defining definition for FUBAR? Not the Water Board, but the Lisa board.)

Alon Perlman said...

About 2-4 years ago I happened to be at the RWQCB a day prior or after a meeting on a Los Osos topic and wandered into the Meeting or workshop where the farm regulations were first introduced. So I went into a prediction; “If you don’t simplify your mandates to the level of regulatory guidance documents, If you leave it up to the many different levels of farms to have to figure out their own testing, you are headed to trouble and huge costs to Farmers without any substantial improvements to water quality,… Blah Blah… guidance with your clean water partners, not an “enforcers versus polluters” mindset.” Something like that, more elegant but almost as concise.
The WaterBoard Staff actually got it. (The board too? Not if it was a workshop) perhaps not having other Los Osos SewerNuts in the room helped get my message across.
That we are at the point we are today, is due to institutional inertia and due to the WB not having a dictum against being onerously regulatorily burdensome. We are truly past the tipping point of environmental regulations interfering with achieving a cleaner environment.

M said...

Boy, move into a community and then join forces with every agency wrecking havoc on us. Spend all waking hours to counter every point of contest the community has to some how make this un-viable project work for us. Gratitude will not be forthcoming.

FOGSWAMP said...

Toons .... Pathogens come from raw untreated sewage solids. Presently we are NOT injecting that source below the leaching soil. Gravity and sloping pipes below that leaching area will, when the pipes are upheaved. This a well known
documented fact worldwide.

Check out the LOCAC comments on LOWWP DEIR, Jan 30, 2009 (District One Alon Perlman was on board). "It is also clear from numerous studies that large gravity system pipes are most susceptable to settlement from liquefaction and/or rupture.

Now check out our own LOCSD Local Hazard Mitigation Plan Aug 2005, signed by Richard Legros and the board. It shows both Earthquake and Liquefaction as Severity: Medium High & Probability: High.
This report went into a lot more detail than the Frugo report used by the County.

Google Cal Poly SLO County Liquefaction Risk Map for the map showing us in RED Zone. The only thing suggested & needed for more certainty was bore hole water table depth which we now have from Cleath & Associates.

Finally, see the U>S Geological Survey report 2004-1269"Liquefaction-Induced Lateral Spreading in Oceano, California, During the 203 San Simeon Earthquake".

All that should shake you up a bit.

Alon Perlman said...

Hi Fog Thanks for the Honorable mention but I don’t stand behind The LOCAC EIR report as a whole. It’s preparation and presentation simply did not follow the agreed on process. My vote on it was conditional on changes that were acknowledged and not made. Though that quote you gave is a compilation from outside sources and is correct. A missing point is that spills 28 feet underground are UNDETECTABLE. I do stand behind my own testimony to the TAC approx a year earlier that the Septic tank live supernatant is less pathogenic than raw sewage which is substantially unaltered between porcelain in the home and the receiving port at a (yet to be built ) LOWWTP. My point referred to succession of bacterial populations, not just the fact that close to 99% of the disrupted solids settle. You are correct in that the sands and clay in the vadoze zone prevent the pathogens from moving through the groundwater. Conversely Toons is correct in that the waterboard considers those discharges pollution (septic tank discharges to septage pit which at the entry point can be 15 feet underground, and do contain live bacteria as suspended solids.) Even a more responsible (scientific) and well functioning WQCB would not be able to approve high density septage pits.

Alon Perlman said...

Written earlier…So… Cool McFinn is cool, and that is important ( I found out that the Original “Cool McFinn” was cool in Ireland well before it was cool to use “Cool” as a descriptor.)

A long description of the farmer’s regulatory plight (Well wrote thank you BTW) and a missing description of the Item the 13th, and a RWQCB connecting the two in one meeting.

Learned some from other comments too- Byzantium by the Bay – Baywood Park is not Los Osos, …nobodies business but the Turks. ( ”Constantinople”)
Thanks Fog 7 years? More like milking a skinny bull

As a STEP person Ret. I haven’t reviewed the 5 or 7 sets of submissions but I would not be surprised if the number of words submitted to RWQCB on the LOWWTP topic exceeded those on Agriculture. And there may had been less new in the meeting proper than in the letters. Even with at least two lawyers- would had been nice to not have to wait 2 months for an audio transcript.

Threats or otherwise the RWQCB was not about to do much if anything (beyond the predictable 7mg /ml) about LOWWTP at this stage of the game. (They do have some limited override powers re the Coastal Commissions authority but no good reason to exercise them). FUBARs all around. Also some FUBAE and FUBAH (Beyond All Hope, Beyond All Excuse. The regulatory naiveté and escape to victimology and entitlement which is the legacy of the post recall CSD remains alive and well and interspaces seamlessly with that remaining shrinking wisdom expressed in LO public comment.

Sewertoons said...

Wow! Thanks Alon, well said!

FOG - I'm back now, will read what you suggested and get back on here with my comments. Gotta see the end of the movie first!

FOGSWAMP said...

Alon... Thank you for the clarifications and yes, Toons is correct about leach field liquids. Eliminate them.
"Undetetectible spills 28'down", that's for sure.

Aside from the undeniable well documented potential liquefaction danger, there are other problems with a gravity system these days.

San Francisco gave rebates to homeowners & businesses to use low flush toilets. They went from using 3.6gpf to 1.6gpf, then 1.28gpf to save water.

The unintended consequence was that this caused the sludge to flow too slow thru the gravity systems. As the bacteria ate away at the slow moving organic matter hydogen sulfide released up thru the hundreds of manholes.

Numerous complaints resulted, so now they are looking for a fix and plan to spend $10M in bleach, but many are concerned about bleach leaking into the aquifer.

Just some more food & water for thought.

Sewertoons said...


Reading the reports should "-Shake you (me) up a bit." Funny FOG!
OK - here goes:

LOCSD Local Hazard Mitigation Plan Aug 2005 - check

"Creation of Soil Liquefaction Susceptibility Maps for San Luis Obispo & Marin Counties using Geographic Information Systems."
Amelia M. Lowman (paper by Cal Poly student - Earth Science Major)
December 2009
Dr. Lynn E. Moody, Adviser - check

Liquefaction-Induced Lateral
Spreading in Oceano, California,
During the 2003 San Simeon
Earthquake - check

I am not convinced to the point of worrying about this. Worrying about Diablo seems a much better use of earthquake worry time.

Alon is right, leaks will go undetected for a time with a gravity system, but there is no pressure on these contents, unlike with Step. How would a utility address detached pipes between the house and the Step tank on 500 houses- detachment there being the most likely event in an earthquake. Should Step pipes break - and they could - raw liquids will be jetted out into the surrounding area. Suppose 50 occurred all at once? Sure, the electricity could go out - but when it comes back on, do you just turn off the breaker to your pump so it doesn't spew while you wait for the repair guy to show up? The thing with gravity is - you can still operate the system while you are making repairs (generators at the lift stations and all).

Maybe you missed this part in the CC permit? Page 12, DEVELOPMENT PLAN / COASTAL DEVELOPMENT PERMIT DRC2008-00103 FINDINGS - EXHIBIT A

25. [Mitigation 5.4-C2] Prior to completion of improvement plans, an Emergency Response Plan (ERP) shall be prepared as part of the operation and maintenance plan for the proposed collection system. The ERP shall recognize the potential for liquefaction, seismic hazards and ground lurching, to impact the pipeline or other proposed facilities, and specific high hazard areas shall be inspected for damage following an earthquake. “Soft Fixes” shall be incorporated in the ERP. Soft fixes typically consist of having a plan in-place to address the hazards, such as can be achieved by storing supplies and equipment for repair.

Sewertoons said...


It became EXHIBIT B (on the report above) when you got to page 12, sorry! Here is the link:

On to the next issue - it all wouldn't fit on the last post. San Francisco and their "gravity" problems.

I read one or two articles on this topic some months back. The differences between there and here is that is that our system is being tweaked right now with the full knowledge that we are supposed to be putting 50 gallons per person day into it. San Francisco's system was not built with that in mind.

Look, any system can have problems. We have a gravity system ahead of us. I'm not changing your mind by posting this stuff - you wanted Step. And to date, no Step advocate has been able to give me the reasons to change mine. Let's try not to worry about stuff we can't change!

FOGSWAMP said...

Toons ... Your argument doesn't hold raw sewage, or water in the event of an earthquake.

Yes, they can tweek a gravity system, however it requires digging deeper and sloping pipes down further into groundwater.

Another more dangerous problem with gravity is the severe soil disruption and magnitude of dewatering needed to install the pipes in Los Osos high groundwater.

Every liquefaction event report from around the world, (including Oceano) and most recently in NZ,
indicate that the most damaging and severe liquefaction occurred in recent surface disrupted areas and groundfills. Scientists refer to soil diruptions back to 100 years as being more potentially dangerous. So, what will happen to the pipes and the raw sewage?

It's rather sad that so many educated folk can't see thru the political aspect of the two systems and do what is scientifically proven to be right for our high groundwater environment and perhaps future health.

What the County is saying to us with their "mitigation" plan is that, we are aware of the "significant great danger", but we will have the ambulance and health department standing by.

It's never too late to do it right.

Alon Perlman said...

Before I venture forth into the “How does information travel in los Osos” thesis, Subtitled “Where did all these Science and Engineering experts get their Sewerology credentials? And is it possible that some (though apparently logical) assertions may be due to the phenomenon of “Overreaching” or “Cherry Picking”?”. As for water flows good San Fran. info Fog and good answer Tunes. I completely didn’t think of that current re-design, duh. There is a ferrous compound planned in Osos project for smell reduction. So if Flows and pipe angles are an issue with the current design, why is Graywater incorporated into the current project? Why will Graywater be allowed if it deprives the project of waters that confer a safe ability to transport solids? You would think that graywater (Reduced flows) is incompatible with a gravity system.
The simple answer- Graywater is “Green”
and the more complex answer? Graywater is “”GREEN””.
It’s all just a bunch of politically correct word power. Kind of like “recharge and discharge”. (There will be potable water saving (SW intrusion value) only with a stringent Graywater program that eliminates lawns completely and allows GW systems that document a replacement of CURRENT outdoor watering. Think “Right of inspection” “High maintenance”, “Three way valve” “Rental agreement, to be maintained by the renter”)
Granted that I think A shallow pipe system is less costly to repair after an event I would actually say there is more likely to be public exposure to wastes with such a (Step) system. I think you could work out that reasoning, Fog. Has the probability of a “Significant” earthquake in the Los Osos PZ over the next 30 years increased due to an event in Japan? Why are we even discussing this? Is it because Al is astute enough to recognize the “Word Power” of “Liquefaction?” (Yes “Al”, some societal memes have many points of origin. In the LO Sewer Advocacy zone “Liquefaction” is an Al thing)

Sewertoons said...

There are mitigation plans for emergencies on any well thought out project. A Step plan would have to have a mitigation plan for earthquakes too. You seem to be saying that there would be no problems with a Step system in an earthquake.

Even a tiny change in slope isn't going to translate into much in the street.

(The bell and spigot pipes with raw sewage will have some give due to the joints, not so sure about the fusion welded pipes around the bay however.)

You talk about severe soil disruption for gravity pipes, but the overall soil disruption is the same with Step or gravity. Personally, I'd rather have that soil disruption in the street, not in my carefully tended yard.

Engineering and construction firms can handle dewatering!

What is scientifically proven about our future health? Where, except in third world countries, have you seen death due to sewage?

Seems to me the political aspect on Step is more of a sales campaign of brainwashing to get a big, fat job on the beautiful central coast. The pushiness of the salespeople really turned me off.

Really FOG, it is too late. The Coastal Commission has issued a permit. The funding agencies are funding the County's project. The people have opined, they do not want Step. Anyone trying to disrupt this now will be saying that they really don't care what a year or two more of damage will do to the water supply.

Sewertoons said...

Great answer Alon, thanks for posting.

Sewertoons said...

Every time I hear the word "graywater" I cringe at the possible unintended consequences. While it seems like a good practice in theory, the possibilities for abuse are likely, as everyone who might live with such a system may not be as educated (or educated at all) on the topic as those promoting it. What comes to mind first would be baby diaper residues (now that cloth diapers have come back into vogue), the unknowing use of chemically "enhanced" shower gels, fake "green" laundry detergents.

M said...

How is the extra 30-50 feet of waste line to hook up to the lateral going to be effected? Seems like that could cause problems if not a lot of water is typically used. How much downflow will a typical line have?
Sincerely, M

Sewertoons said...

M, these are questions a sewer engineer would have to answer. Perhaps in partial answer, those homes below the grade of the pipe in the street will have to get grinder pumps to push the stuff up. I can't imagine that the force of a load of wash or a shower (if not spending all the extra bucks to do graywater) wouldn't do the trick. Or dishwashing. I would pose your questions to an engineer however. I'll bet there is an answer out there.

This hasn't been posed yet as a gravity anxiety question - nice to see an original question!

FOGSWAMP said...

Alon ... what's with this Al thing all about?

Are all scientists and historical data gathered since the 15th century not valid?

Why do you need to play the Al card?

Sewertoons said...

FOG, data gathered since the 15th century? Are you referring to gravity pipes here?

FOGSWAMP said...

Toons. .I think you know that I was referring to the "liquefaction" remark and Al, like Al invented the word.

I am no Al and I resemble that remark.

Alon Perlman said...

Hi Fog Didn't think of it as an ""Al" Card" but yes, I am frustrated that Los Osos Public comment went where it is today, and I do have a strong association with Al using liquefaction from back in the LOCAC meetings. There and then- pre Final EIR it had relevance, and some of his stuff did get parroted back into recent attention.
But you are not him and are doing independent research, so -Sorry.
It has more to do with how information travels in Los Osos, for me. Overall though, as I stated, I think STEP would survive better, but “Liquefaction” is a distraction-

No new information came out and as you noted the potential was known back before the EIR.- STEP isn’t happening. The liquefaction argument was presented to the CCC -they didn’t bite.
Chaff versus Wheat
And there are some issues, such as how the County is handling the ISJ report, that could use more attention, preferably with less combative argumentation than what is seen at the BOS. Notice what Margotsen is saying about that report, and some of what I said, if you get the Chan 20 previous CSD meeting. I’m simply not convinced that some of the “Compelling Arguments” about certain issues have come to prominence because they are in fact “Important” issues that are “Game changers”. I’ve got sufficient insider knowledge to let me know that those arguments continue to appear because individuals have become wedded to them because of political (Shades of Scare tactics) reasons, while others are not that technically astute and prefer subjects that they have learned (Parroting). This is the phenomenon that has dogged public comment for some time now. It really isn’t doing Los Osos much good.
Here in the blogosphere, we have the freedom of not being responsible for the consequences of being divorced from reality.

Alon Perlman said...

BTW Fog I can't type all that fast- the above was written before I read your not Al Comment- I also wasn't sure what 15th century reffered to.
M- You should plan and figure out how the pipes should cross your property, otherwise when the time comes to hook up the default will be the point the pipe exits the house and down to the street (Or up with a grinder pump as toons pointed out)

Sewertoons said...

M- Alon is right. On all of the above (his Step opinion being his own of course) - but as to what he specifically addressed to you: The County needs to be questioned about things like this now, otherwise you will get what you get, as that portion of the project has not changed from the last pone. This was a topic at the last Bruce Gibson office hours. Some people granted easements across their property to others for their hook-up lines during the last sewer project (to avoid the dreaded grinder pump, I believe).

M said...

Actually I was referring to the ability to move solids through that extra footage of pipe from the house to the lateral. Has the depth of my existing wasteline already been accounted for as to whether I will need a pump or not? I know that I am very close to that cutoff point.
Sincerely, M

Churadogs said...

Toonces sez:(regarding greywater) " the unknowing use of chemically "enhanced" shower gels, fake "green" laundry detergents."

It's my understanding that certain various chemicals (endocrine disrupters & such like) aren't removed in the treatment plant (without RO) so they'll be discharged to replenish the aquifer, same as greywater. I guess the only difference is depth to groundwater, but has RWQCB measured the soil column needed to get rid of those chemicals in this case? If all the stuff in shampoos & etc. aren't completely removed at the plant, then we should see RWQCB slapping a ban on grey water within the PZ, right?, even though the state is pushing it as a water-saving measure? Or will we have more contraditions: OK to "discharge" when it's done by the County, not o.k. by the homeowner?

Alon Perlman said...

Cut right to the chase? An astute observation. There is still a long time before the WQCB gets concerned as to how many times the same cup of coffee passes through our bodies (and forces unfunded poorly researched mandates). The actual nexus of those potential regs would be Dept Health Services etc…
If treatment gets mandated at a later date it would be relatively easy at a Central location.

I looked into Graywater and the GW Manual when they were first introduced (and by sewer activists in the context of LOWWTP in ’08) and was concerned about the “Bells and Whistles” factor. Andrew Christie once wrote “Green doesn’t have to be more expensive” or some such, which does acknowledge the potential of additional $ to an already $$$$ project. If memory serves, as you follow the history, GW was introduced as a condition.

The SLO GW Manual is a rewrite of other Manuals and a nice attempt, but will scare away most people. Look into the “Simple” self measurements of percolation. I sent in a few suggestions re typos and errors, and re the included non-native plants.
Had two thirds of the projects waters been squandered at Tonini, I would not had concerns but since the project can now return waters to the basin (potentially more efficiently into the lower aquifer, and or replacing potable water use) and there is almost no recharge from the septage pits to the lower aquifer (water loss), or loss from anything other than a well maintained gray water garden, and graywater is mostly detergents and water (not much to “Bind” to or bioremediate) so it will race into the shallow aquifer, where it will either get sucked up as future drinking water or into the Bay sediments where Gobies will diligently incorporate the noniphenols into their livers. Incidentally the highest concentration of noniphenols ever recorded was in a Los Osos septic tank sediment (Pump out portion). In the treatment plant most of it will end in the solids portion also.

The PZ will become the “Wastewater Plant Service Area” but will be disadvantaged as such by the hook up requirements which MAY include conservation measures not required outside the “Line”. (The line itself may change based on voluntary hook ups from outside?)

In reality if GW is left in as voluntary, it will have no impact one way or the other. As for the disruptors they pretty much end up in the same places no matter what you do (technology chosen, a different take on your point-same diff.). I’m the one who brought the GW topic up, but to me it is more of a "paint it green" distraction then a “Important” issue.

Sewertoons said...

M, yes, it has been. Same for most as the last project. (I noticed the total number of homes needing grinder pumps had changed from the last project to this project by a few numbers, so something did change for some people.) You will need to contact the County to verify your particular case. I'd give you this contact person's full name but my handwriting is so messy, the only part I can read is "Ray." I too am close to that cut-off point.

Yes Ann, you are right, the treatment plant does not remove these nasties. I hope the tall soil column with the long time period from Broderson to the lower aquifer will diminish them. RO does not even take them all out. The US has not put limits on these exotics yet, although Europe has. Alon makes the perfect point though. If it gets mandated at a later date, the place for removal is the central plant. Who knows what technology will be invented to remove them by then.

Good observation - "paint it green" distraction. I agree, most will be scared away, gray water is a non issue. The sad part is though, it is being done now in an amateur way, with the runoff draining into other's yards.

TheOpenEye said...


Do you think liquefaction was a topic of "distraction" in Japan before the quake? After the quake?

You are right on the money, unfortunately for PZ homeowners. It's only a "distraction" to the fake experts here talking about the fake experts when they themselves don't a clue.

You, however, got it *right*.

FOGSWAMP said...

Eyeopener ..... I doubt that many around the world gave much attention to the word "liquefaction", or the real meaning until what happened in Christchurch NZ. (incl me)

Check out Wikipedia for "2011 Christchurch Earthquake".

According to a Japanese scientist at the University of NZ and the Institute of Professional
Engineers (IPENZ) this was the worlds greatest "liquefaction" event ever recorded. Killing 80-90(?) people.

Scientists report that this, highest ever ground acceleration ever reported for a 6.3 earthquake, was largely due to three factors.
They were (a) Sandy soil type (b) High groundwater (c) unusually high rain at the time.

This quote is from the scientists at IPENZ;

"The propensity for buried services to be disrupted and uplifted by the bouancy of the liquefied material is well-known from the experiances of other earthquakes around the world, but the scale of damages experienced in Christchurch may be the greatest ever reported in the modern world".

We have almost identical soils and maybe even higher groundwater.

Some want to call it a "distraction", for politicl reasons I assume, certainly not scientific reasons.

Thanks for your interest.

FOGSWAMP said...

Alon .... Thank you & I'm sorry for my rather grouchy kneejerk response, but I didn't want my name on the same page as a party with a crappy personality dandruff

With respect to 15th century. I don't remember where the hell I got that from. I guess it was the first time in history the senerio was mentioned when doing the research on liquefaction events etc.

Sewertoons said...

FOG, I guess we can only speculate on the damage there would have been had a Step system been in place in Christchurch, but there would be damage. Perhaps tanks popping up from underground and disconnecting from houses?

FOGSWAMP said...

Toons .... Yes, I'm sure that happened because I read & saw they had a ponding system in an outlying area, so I assumed they used a STEP system. Surprisingly the pond still held water and had a few embankment cracks. No mention about the tanks.

The most revealing dangerous part in the Christchurch area was the deep gravity laterals that tilted with the raw sewage. The rubber joints cannot prevent that as you allege.

Then the underground groundwater drove some (not all) of the sewage up into the streets, as witnesses reported. The rest flowed into the groundwater below the leaching soil, which apparently is the part you repeatedly refuse to admit you understand.

Alon Perlman said...

Hi Fog. Not quite sure what you mean within the grumpiness and rest, but politeness is always appreciated.
I’ll do this without checking sources since I happened to be at a CERT training at the CalFire training center at the Sunnyside school last night and got a refresher. The Marina district devastation (SF landfill during Loma Prieta) was considered a liquefaction style event even though I didn’t see video’s with emerging water. The recent Japan Earthquake had some liquefaction events, including water coming out of the ground filmed at a landfill park (Tokyo bay? This may had been off utube? and not at the training) There were stills of apartment rows in Japan 4-5 stories or more where several stayed intact but were sunk and tilted almost 45 degrees. Pretty sure that was in the 70’s. Japan knows tsunamis earthquakes and liquefaction. How they managed to build a series of reactors close to shore without adequate hight/wavewall is beyond me.
Christchurch has some age to it, so I’ll bet many of the fatalities were brick construction related. Ponding does not imply STEP, and you do mention that Gravity laterals existed.
As for Los Osos -Yes it’s mostly considered a liquefaction risk zone, and this has been known for some time. There is a fault line running from station 15 and its newly poured concrete pad down to Sweetsprings (the saloon and further down also to the reserve).

The risk to houses is biggest the more high groundwater there is under them so taking septage pits/leachfields out the soonest reduces the risk the soonest. In a STEP scenario upheaval of the tank close to the house may be more dangerous. Concrete tanks or poly tanks strapped to concrete bars reduce the risk somewhat-$$$. In a Gravity scenario there could be a massive spill in one or more locations. If at an evacuation/emergency help route more serious. In the STEP scenario multiple breakages closer to the surface. Much harder to assess, potentially more hazards as emergency crews assess/evacuate. I still prefer STEP, but overall it is a wash. Each system has different outcomes at different locations. Now tell me who came up with some good comments re reinforced concrete tanks several months ago- seriously- I don’t remember for sure but I thought it was you.

Sewertoons said...


Can't you have ponding system without a Step system? They have these basin things with sewage water in them in Nipomo (field trip I went on) and I'm sure they don't have a Step system down there! The pond things that we are getting have lots of freeboard on them so in the event of an earthquake the stuff won't slop out.

The removal of the leach lines/pits are supposed to reduce the water table. In the "1998 Preliminary Engineering Evaluation Los Osos/Baywood Park Community Drainage Report for San Luis County Service Area No. 9J" the reduction was calculated to be 1 foot per year. (I have seen this info elsewhere but this is the first document I opened that had that info.)

In an earthquake as bad as that was, ANY system is going to fail, Step included.

Maybe if it is that bad, none of us will be living here anyway because our mostly aging water system isn't going to be delivering water either!

In any case, can we agree on one thing? We are getting a gravity system.

If you are interested, this is lifted of of the Nipomo CSD website. I suspect something similar to this will be happening here:

"One-fifth of the District’s sanitary sewer system is planned to be videoed on an annual
basis starting in FY 2009-2010 and one-half of the District’s sanitary sewer system is
planned to be cleaned each year starting in FY 2009-2010. The video inspection will be
performed by a contractor and the cleaning will be performed in-house once the District
purchases the necessary equipment and hires the necessary staff as approved by the
Board in the FY 2009-2010 Budget."

FOGSWAMP said...

Alon... Yes, I sorta agree.

I doubt that Step would damage our groundwater water basin as significantly as Gravity.

In Step the septic tanks and their feed lines are not deep underground and the leaching process can still occur. The home connection lines may seperate with both systems, however leaching can still work.

It is very doubtful that heavy tanks will upset and dump their load, tilt yes maybe. The lines to the homes are short and can be easily/quickly repaired. Not so with deep underground pipes.

In a liquefaction event Baywood would be hit the hardest with their reported depth to water (Cleath) running 6.25' (near the bay) 2.67' (W of the school at 11th st) 21' (2 blocks E of school)16.21' (S of school) and 36.46' on a high spot on Santa Ysabel).

Check out the proposed Project Disposal Bayridge Leach Field disposal area. The depth to water is shown to be only 10.50'. Now that ought to get the soil slipping/ sliding in and earthquake event, eh?

Churadogs said...

Toonces sez:"In any case, can we agree on one thing? We are getting a gravity system."

I've noticed something odd in much of this discussion. Toonces, it seems to me that you apparently fear -- from your many, many comments constantly attacking STEP -- that you somehow feel that STEP is a possibility, is still under consideration or up for argument and so must be attacked at every step, like you fear somehow that discussion of STEP in this comment section might somehow bring it back, that there's some doubt, that it just might get back on the table so you're asking for an agreement from other commenters that we're getting gravity?? Agree? What's that about? Where's this attack/fear coming from? It makes no sense to me but it simply wafts off so many of your comments for months. It was one thing when the topic was (pretend, heh-heh) up for community discussion, but now? Very odd.

FOGSWAMP said...

Ah yes, mysterious it is.

Denial sparks rage, confusion and rather comical attention.

But when urin denial urin a tough place, especially when undeniable facts clearly show that you just pissed yourself.

Sewertoons said...

Good golly! Nooooooo! NO POSSIBILITY!!!!!

I am not writing to those who understand that we ARE getting a gravity system. But I am writing in an attempt to to dispel some of the fear around gravity, and that getting it needn't panic people, quite OPPOSITE the way some other people fan the flames to keep the hatred of the County at full throttle! (Gravity pipes will break! MWH is corrupt! The aquifer will be ruined with gravity pipes! The County cheated us out of a real vote!)

Maybe I watch too many BOS meetings. Maybe that is my problem. ("Denial sparks rage, confusion and rather comical attention.") I hear the rumor of a new lawsuit by Step supporters, so it seems to me that the Step crowd seems to think that there is a possibility of it coming back and I want to counter that with reality, Step is NOT coming back! I don't want to give anyone here the idea that I have ANY thought that it is!

I don't have the fear FOG writes about with gravity pipes upending in the streets! I mean, I get in my car, I get on airplanes after reading of the gristly accidents that can happen. I simply don't dwell there. Is there a possibility of disaster - sure - Diablo could blow up too! Do you see any of us moving because of that?

I disagree that I have "pissed" myself, sorry if that is a disappointment for all of the work some of you have done to convince me that I have! Perhaps I am unrealistically disappointed that I have continued the conversation of attempted comfort, when in fact I have apparently been simply baited to do so.

Truly, if gravity pipes are upending in streets, Step tanks will float to the surface too, gas pipes will burst and ignite, water pipes will burst and gush, (hopefully in the same place so as to put out the fire) and my house will have fallen down too.

Let me say it one more time - with a quake like that, the destruction on everything will be massive and ANY utilities system will be a mess.

I stated in another post that Step visionaries will not change their minds on gravity and gravity supporters - me - are not going to change their minds on Step.

BTW FOG is the kettle not calling the pot black? Just a thought.

FOGSWAMP said...

I thought the STEP was the first choice of 87% or so Los Osos voters
way back when they didn't have all that $10,000.00 fine thing taylored into the literature.

Sewertoons said...

You are right FOG, 87% wanted Step AND the sewer to be in the middle of town. Things changed didn't they?

FOGSWAMP said...

Toons .... Deeply buried gravity pipes are bursting all over Calif, averaging one a day for decades.

According to UCLA & Stanford professors, every major local government in Calif is under some kind of State or Federal mandate to fix their deeply buried failing
gravity sewer pipes. A huge cash cow for the State.

According the the EPA there were 73,000 raw sewage spills in America, most all caused by the same thing. It's the GRAVITY PIPE.

Granted the pipes are aging, but not all.

No were could I find a single mention of a "STEP System" dumping raw sewage into the enviroment.

So, I would think that we have to be either stuck on stupid, or are determined to be enviomental jihadists to go down that road.

End of sermon.

Sewertoons said...

FOG, how old are those pipes? Are they made out of modern materials? Were they maintained? All questions needed to be answered before any conclusions can be made.

Also, how many Step systems are installed in America? (Please, no data from Step companies - let's see what the EPA says.) I'm sure it is a tiny fraction of the number of gravity pipes.

Step is what - 30 years old? Compare 30 year old gravity pipes to 30-year old Step lines - and the ratio of one to the other is 10,000 to 1 or more, probably.

Maybe we need to be comparing apples to apples before we can determine if we are stuck or stupid.

FOGSWAMP said...

Toons ... Re your "in town" remark.

Thank God and our County fathers for that. We now have the plant on a more intellegant location on firm ground. At least they got one thing right.

FOGSWAMP said...

Geeez Toons is your computer search thing broken?

Search sewage spills and let me know how many even mention a STEP System.

TheOpenEye said...


STEP pipes -- HDPE and MDPE -- came through the NZ quake with flying colors. Look into Christchurch EERI report, it's all there.

You do realize you're talking to a couple of bent lamp posts, don't you?

Sewertoons said...

HDPE and MDPE pipe is used for gravity sewer lines.

Here are some quotes from the article:

Buoyancy of concrete
vaults at potable water and wastewater
pump stations, compounded
by liquefaction-induced settlement,
caused pipes to break at connections
with the vaults.

In some instances,
sewer lines spilled their effluent into
the river or water mains broke.
(Note the word "effluent.")

Watershed Mark said...

Watershed Mark said...

Following a report by Appleton that was supported by computer readouts that placed the spill at about three million gallons, Wallace elected to hire staff at the Wallace Group to reevaluate the spill amount using an approach that focused on the height of sewage spewing out of manhole covers throughout the community.

Watershed Mark said...

The state’s notice of violation orders Wallace to provide information about all proposed improvement projects and what type of funding was to be used since 2000.

FOGSWAMP said...

Another good example of why Los Osos shouldn"t joint that gravity party.

That whole area is almost underwater & that's why they had extensive damage during the San Simeon shake.

It's the Oceano CSD and Wallace that will foot the bill.

FOGSWAMP said...

Openeye .. Yes I saw that article.

There was a good article from a NZ journalist entitled something like "when down flows up", I referred to earlier a while back.

They had a photo of a woman standing in front of her house where raw sewage burst out of the manhole.

The women stated that they were using plastic bags for their fecal matter and having the garbage truck haul it away.

Health warnings warned to boil their water and if the sewage backed up into the bathtub or home to evacuate the home.

To get the real story you almost have to read the local blogs. Some I read about a nearby lake where the ducks were swimming in sewage.

Yes, I'm probably talking to a lightpole, but when I give it a good shake, once in while there is a glimmer of light emitting from above.

Sewertoons said...

Why FOG! "Another good example of why Los Osos shouldn"t joint that gravity party."

Well, I'll ignore the typo - but really, didn't you mean "shouldn't HAVE joined? We are presently "joined" as it were. Or don't you see it that way?

I notice that no one challenged that Step pipes and gravity pipes are made out of the same stuff.

I guess concrete Step tanks have been given special dispensation to NOT FLOAT in liquefaction events, while others do.

FOGSWAMP said...

Toons .... Yes, I admit that it was a typo error and nothing to with smoking a joint.

Sewertoons said...


FOGSWAMP said...

Toons .... what you don't seem to understand is that your mindset is on a totally different elevation.

Having a crap in the woods doesn"t get into the groundwater. The soil
beneath what you just left is biologically nullified.

Sewertoons said...

FOG, the OK was to your typo explanation. The system went down for an hour so I couldn't make that clear or respond to your latest post, which was not visible then.

The soil beneath is nullified -- ? What does that mean and what is it a response to? What elevation then are you coming from?

Having a pee on a sand dune might get into the upper aquifer however - oh wait - that is why we can't drink from the upper aquifer anymore!

FOGSWAMP said...

Toons ..... Your right, another typo error (or that second martini), then my computer took a crap & I couldn't correct it.

I'm going fishing & see if I can get me some ONO.

Churadogs said...

Toonces sez:"(Gravity pipes will break! MWH is corrupt! The aquifer will be ruined with gravity pipes! The County cheated us out of a real vote!)"

All true, by the way. But now irrelevant, of course, but true. heh-heh.

and what a hoot, yesterday's Tribune Editorial about Mr. Quandt (who wrote a huge viewpoint about the Ag regs that were heard before the RWQCB.) Apparently he used a word "bloodbath," as in farmers taking a financial "bloodbath" if these regs are voted in)at a workshop and the the RWQCB Boys sent the Highway patrol after him, investigating a "criminial complaint" that supposedly the RWQCB felt his using the term "bloodbath" as a "threat" to them. The Tribune views siccing the cops on him as an attempt to intimidate and silence him. Ah yes, regulatory abuse, threat, intimidation. Sound familiar? I have two words for Mr. Quandt: Los Osos. What makes this attempt at intimidation so stupid, is Mr. Quandt spoke at the May 5th hearing, very reasonable guy, and was taken to task by a Board member for getting some of his figures wrong, said Board member making it clear that by screwing up some figures, he was calling into question his entire point of view. That Board was in no way, shape for form "intimidated" or frightened by Mr. Quandt. Spanked him publicly, instead. But send in the CHP? Ah, yes. That's how they roll. Briggs, of course, denied everything. No, we don't know anything about electioneering. No, Nope, nobody here but us mice.

Alon Perlman said...

Just a song before I go,
A message to my friends

Fog at the CERT training last night the instructor mentioned that in a case of disruption of services. It is important to keep a supply of plastic bags. Among other uses you can stretch one over the porcelain bowl. You then store it on the side of your property for later removal. For liquid nitrate wastes a jug poured on the ground will probably do.
He did not mention it but it is the loss of water supply to the house that affects the waste transport. Doesn’t matter what the Wastwater processing technology is.

A perfect example of how the internet and search engines can be used to turn a former music critic from Southern Cal into a fake Sewer Technology expert;- HDPE pipes are used to transport water or STEP effluent or Conventional sewer wastes. There is NO evidence in the materials presented and specifically in the PDF link, that STEP/STEG is a technology used in the area affected in New Zealand. If You find a definitive side by side comparison of STEP and Gravity in the NZ materials let me know.

Speaking of going fishing; Third Eye Blind has trolled this blog many times before. Its not about Los Osos, It’s not about technology, it’s not about you, Fog, it’s not even about me or Toons- It IS always about him or about the other two fluff stuffed bear dolls. So flushing out his amateurish error (HDPE=STEP) isn’t something I would normally bother with, since a new load gets dropped every day or so. That error would NEVER be made by someone who took time to read the LOWWTP EIR.
“Fraid you got plaaayed by a faker,
a fifteen minute flaming famer,
a hackneyed Hollywood hacker,
a magic eraser image maker.”

Speaking of non engineers who DO know a little about technology- Mark low- Fog; You would do better to ask him.
W-Mark; Ben Difatta mentioned Vacuum the other day at the BOS as another alternative technology. Frankly, my fellow STEP/Alternate supporters under-emphasized Vacuum back when it mattered (Early Planning commission hearings).

Darn Ann, thanks for re-grounding the topic Yep. Send in the homeland security to end the quanditry.

Sewertoons said...

Pio Lombardo estimated the cost of vacuum per household at $29,000 (although $31,000 was also thrown out there). The way to make it cheaper was to group more houses onto one valve pit. The kicker was that the pit could not be put in the right-of-way - so whose "lucky" property would draw the short straw for the pit? Also, for a community hell-bent on NOT having a sewer in-town, how was having all of those little pocket plants scattered around town supposed to be OK?

TheOpenEye said...

Hi Fogswamp,

Once again the fake experts huff and puff... They really have nothing to say but "No!"... "Can't!"... "Better not or I'll scream!"

Of all the alternatives, gravity included, only STEP would use HDPE pipe.

HDPE pipe is used exclusively for pressure systems for potable water, STEP collection, natural gas distribution, etc. It is not used for non-pressured systems such as gravity sewer collection. HDPE pipe is a relatively flexible pipe material whereas PVC is relatively rigid (and therefore brittle subject to stress breaks and cracking). All of the HDPE joints fuse welded, and are as strong as the pipe itself. Even with pipe joint restraints, the PVC bell and spigot joint is not as strong as the pipe, and still subject to breaks and cracking.

Lyttleton and Harwood HDPE replacement systems are for pressurized potable water distribution. The MDPE reference is for pressurized natural gas distribution. Statement “not a single instance of damage” itself speaks volumes if anyone on BOS would listen.

Based on NZ and Japan experience, most damage to pipes themselves (not manholes) was from liquefaction-induced lateral spreading. PVC and concrete pipe cannot “stretch” but HDPE and MDPE pipe can and still maintain structural integrity to continue functioning properly long after the seismic event.

But don't believe me, I'm no expert. However, what I did do -- rather than play fake expert like the permanently unwashed and unhinged -- is go to the real experts, ask questions, and find out the facts... something bad poets and bored housewives don't have the intellectual guts to do.

And that's a fact.

Sewertoons said...
Read half way down.
Above is the main page. Scroll down to SanTite®HP and click to the link.
This is the main site.
This is a case study.
Gee, HDPE pipe is used for just about everything - check out the video.

TheOpenEye said...

I hate to repeat myself for the wackjobs so I'll just copy & paste what I wrote before so the dense and prejudice can study:

"Of all the alternatives, gravity included, only STEP would use HDPE pipe" (for the Los Osos Wastewater Project).

HDPE could be used for gravity for LOWWP, but it ain't. Ask them why and let me know.

Oh that's right, wackjobs don't ask questions. If it's on google then they "know it" and if it's not they just make it up. Whoopee! Yawn.

Churadogs said...

Fog, STEP was the first choice when the project was touted as being $47 a month (vs the County's $100+) and the voters weren't told by the Solution Group that the STEP system wouldn't work and wouldn't be allowed.(See Ron Crawfords dot connection on that particular bit of bait and switchy.)

Sewertoons said...

Ann, what about CSD meetings? Wouldn't people have learned something by going to those? Wasn't it on the agendas? Pleading ignorance doesn't wash.

Before 24 comments got erased by Blogger, I posted that 87% were in favor of the treatment being done in the middle of town too. That all changed, didn't it - well, by 20 votes anyway.

Churadogs said...

Toonces: The pre-CSD-formation meetings, the Solutions Group presented facts and figures supporting their claim that the system would work and would cost $47, guaranteed. Alyn Martin, running for CSD, I believe, countered that according to his figures, the cost would be much higher. The Cuesta Engineering report that indicated the ponding system wouldn't work was disputed (another case of he said/she said) and the RWQCB has always played both coy and fast and loose with their requirements: since they're forbidden by law to say what kind of system to build, they've always played the fake Hobson's Choice game which meant they never did take a clear stand and say flat out, NO we won't approve The Ponds of Avalon, period. A stance that, had they done that from day one, would have saved a lot of grief. But that's the game they've played from day one -- vague, coy, confusing evidence/facts with "belief," as in "we believe that . . . such and such." That kind of "cute" caused and is still causing no end of problems with both the public and gov. agencies. (See the Ag/Atasc. hearing above. That meeting demanded clear honesty (Legally, we OWN your asses and you WILL do such and such or we'll hammer you) and instead they got such "Muddled Vague" that the various agencies walked away in total confusion. Typical.)

Sewertoons said...

I hear your anger at the Solutions Group. I hear your anger at the Water Board. As to the Water Board, I thought their specific objections were that the whole town wasn't sewered with Step, and that the pond wasn't big enough. Those specific objections needed addressing.

So the Solutions Group didn't tell you, but the story didn't stop there! What about the CSD - did it not hold meetings? Was the sewer not discussed? Was everything done in closed session? THAT is what I am trying to get at. The need for a sewer was not going away just because the original idea didn't fly. What happened next?