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Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Regional Water Quality Control Board Is Poised to Approve Malibu Septic Ban MOU

• Septic Upgrades Mandatory If Voters Veto Assessment

BY BILL KOENEKER

The Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board is scheduled to consider a resolution to authorize its executive officer to sign a memorandum of understanding between the City of Malibu and the Regional Board, and the State Water Resources Control Board regarding implementation of a Civic Center septic ban at its meeting on July 14 at 9 a.m. in the city council chambers in Simi Valley.
Malibu City Council members authorized its city manager to sign the MOU that was crafted by City Manager Jim Thorsen and the RWQCB’s executive officer Sam Unger.
The purpose of the MOU, according to the RWQCB, is to coordinate the implementation of a wastewater treatment plan for the Malibu Civic Center area.
The Regional Board approved a septic ban for the Civic Center in 2009. The state Board adopted that same resolution in 2010.
The measure prohibits all new onsite wastewater discharge systems in the Civic Center area and prohibits discharge from existing OWSDs based on a phased schedule to cease discharges.
The prohibition, according to the RWQCB, does not prevent repairs, maintenance and upgrades to existing systems, provided they do not expand the capacity of the systems or increase flows of wastewater.
Malibu city officials initially objected to the adoption of the ban and expressed its intent to file a lawsuit challenging the septic ban.
In 2010, the city and the water boards entered into a tolling agreement by which they agreed to extend the time within which the city must bring an action against the water boards challenging their actions to approve the septic ban or what it calls the “Basin Plan Amendment.”
The purpose of the tolling agreement was to afford both parties an opportunity to reach agreement on a phased implementation, boundaries and other matters related to the septic ban.
The result of those discussions is the MOU to memorialize the agreement between the city and the water boards “that employs both a plan and schedule to construct one or more centralized wastewater treatment facilities in the Civic Center area.”
A summary was provided by the Regional Board that notes the city agrees to construct one or more facilities, according to a specified schedule that contains specific milestones to assure completion of phase one by November 2015 and phase two by November 2019.
The city and the water boards agree that certain properties in the area designated as phase three may not be connected to a facility based on monitoring data to be collected by the city under the oversight of the Regional Board.
“If it is determined that the phase three properties must be connected to a facility, they must be connected by November 2025,” the RWQCB resolution states.
If an assessment district is not approved by dischargers, the Los Angeles water board may enforce all state policies, plans, or regulations to gain compliance, including the requirement to upgrade each OWDS to advance treatment or other appropriate means by Nov 2019. “Advanced treatment for OWDS is defined as disinfection treatment to a level that meets applicable water quality standards for fecal indicator bacteria and or denitrification not to exceed a total nitrogen concentration of 10 milligrams per liter (mg/l) for those properties impacting an impaired water body with a nutrient total maximum daily loads or TMDL.”
All property owners that are required to upgrade their system will need to obtain City of Malibu building permits and obtain an operating permit, in accordance with city ordinances.
The city’s operating permit program requires that advanced residential OWDS must be inspected every three years by a certified OWDS inspector.
The Los Angeles water board will also require effluent monitoring for these systems that shall be submitted and reviewed by the Los Angeles water board on a quarterly basis for total suspended solids, total nitrogen, total phosphorus and fecal indicator bacteria as appropriate.

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