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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

City Council to Decide on Allocating Money for ASBS

•  Funding also Required for NRDC Project

BY BILL KOENEKER

The Malibu City Council is poised at its meeting next week to spend $110,000 from its undesignated general fund to be used to conduct a monitoring program along approximately the 11.7 mile coastline along the city’s western boundary designated as an Area of Special Biological Significance or ASBS.
The protected area declared by the state an ASBS refers to the diversity and richness of biological resources found in those waters along that part of the city’s coastline.
Specific regulations or what the state calls “special protections” are mandated for the ASBS. One of the “special protections” afforded the ASBS is that no discharge of storm water is allowed into the ASBS.
The State Water Resources Control Board notified the city in 2004 about the prohibition and the city was and is required to request an “exception” to be able to continue the discharges, according to municipal officials.
Three years later, the SWRCB invited the city to participate in an ASBS regional monitoring program in exchange for reduced requirements under the then pending “special protections.”
Those regulatory conditions called “special protections” were adopted by the SWRCB on March 20, 2012, according to city officials.
The regional monitoring program included water quality monitoring and biological resources studies in the Southland with various participating agencies sharing the costs.
In 2008, the council had allocated $98,300 to participate in the program.
Those studies, which were administered by the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project put the participating entities including the city at the forefront of the effort to assess the biological and water quality resources in the ASBS, according to municipal officials.
“This information led to the state making a decision to grant the exception. Participation in the 2008 program also reduced the number of required storm events that the city will need to monitor for the special protection,” wrote Assistant City Manager Reva Feldman, in a staff report to the city’s Administration and Finance Subcommittee at a special meeting before the council session. The A&F subcommittee gave the matter its consideration since it involves an allocation over $25,000.
“The city must comply with state adopted ASBS special protections requiring that it conduct an individual program of water quality monitoring and biological assessments. Alternatively, the city may participate in a regional program that affords a reduced suite of monitoring requirements,” added Feldman, who noted the city could decide to continue to participate in the regional monitoring during a 2013 study.
Feldman indicated, in her report, that agencies “will have to arrange for individual contracts of collections and transport samples to the approved participating laboratories and for laboratory analyses, but SCCWRP will compile and process all of the data into a regional report.”
Now a deadline approaches, agencies such as the city must notify the state by Aug. 1 of whether those dischargers will conduct their own monitoring program or participate regionally.
Council members will be given the choice, not participate in the 2013 regional monitoring program which will increase the city’s costs for compliance with the special protections or participate in the programs which “will demonstrate the city’s commitment to collaboration, complying and protecting the ASBS.”
Why so much emphasis on the ASBS? The allegations by the Santa Monica Baykeeper and the Natural Resources Defense Council about the city violating the Clean Water Act included accusations the city fouled the waters of the ASBS.
Consequently, city council members are also looking at spending $113,000 for additional design services for the Broad Beach biofiltration project as required by the Natural Resources Defense Council/Santa Monica  Baykeeper legal settlement.
The adopted budget for fiscal year 2012-2013 includes $2,097,462 for the biofiltration system. Addtionally design services are needed as required by the settlement agreement between the city and NRDC and Baykeeper. An appropriation of $113,000 would come from the undesignated reserve fund. The projected fund reserve would drop down to $9.7 million by June, 30, 2013.
The funding for the Broad Beach project is coming mainly from a grant from the Safe Drinking Water, Water Quality and Supply,  Flood Control, River and Coastal Protection Bond Act of 2006 (Prop 84).
As a result of finalizing the agreement with the enviro groups, the city agreed to install biofilation improvements at an additional drain along Broad Beach. “This drain was not included in the current design contract
The current project called for eight locations along the beach. The cost to design the additional biofiltration improvements and the six monitoring stations is $113,000,” Feldman concluded in her staff report.

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