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Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Council Members Explore Ways to Regulate Sensory Blight from Septic Pumping Trucks

• Confounding Public Health Issues and Aesthetics May Create Stink


Having agreed upon a strategy for dealing with the food trucks that began proliferating on Pacific Coast Highway, the Malibu City Council is expected to focus, at its meeting next week, on what to do about the pumper truck sewage transfers that take place along some of the same roadways.
A member of the public recommended the council adopt an urgency ordinance prohibiting the transfer of sewage from one truck to another.
However, a staff report suggests the council need not take any action, that septic system pumping
is necessary and a fact of life in Malibu and that concerns expressed about spills are “unwarranted” since there have been no reported or observable spills.
The staff report suggests there was also concern expressed about the transfer of that sewage being done in the septic prohibition area in the Civic Center due to the potential for spills in the storm
drains on Civic Center Way at Winter Canyon, “It was also suggested that transfers be prohibited between Puerco Canyon and the Malibu Pier and from the city limits on the north to the ocean on the south. Based on that request, the city council directed staff to determine potential septic transfer
locations,” the staff report states.
Deputy Building Official Craig George is expected to tell council members that the first course of
action came from the city attorney’s office.
City Attorney Christi Hogin’s office drafted an ordinance regulating the transfer of septic material
and prohibiting transfer on public streets unless; It is essential due to unusual circumstances and
approved in advance by the city manager or it is necessary due to mechanical failure or an accident.
The draft ordinance was reviewed by the Wastewater Advisory Committee or WACo, according to George, in March “WACo requested staff investigate the feasibility of transporting and treating septage at the Tapia Wastewater Treatment facility,” wrote George in his staff report.
The building official indicated staff inquired into the possibility of transfer and treatment at Tapia,
whose officials indicated that its existing infrastructure was not ad equate and it would require Regional Water Quality Control Board approval to modify its wa ter discharge report permit.
In light of the response, WACo reconsidered the draft ordinance and recommended that any law
banning transfers not be adopted.
Additionally, WACo suggested there be an evaluation of potential locations and hours where pump
truck transfers could occur and the city could explore whether odor control equipment should be
mandatory and establish the future Civic Center Wastewater Treatment facility as a designated location for pump truck transfers.
Currently, according to George, pumper truck transfer is not prohibited in the city. The city’s code requires pumpers to provide the municipality with a list of all proposed authorized disposal sites.
The Local Coastal Program does not address pumper truck transfers, according to George, but does allow “wastewater storage and hauling” in the commercial general zones with a conditional use permit. “Pumper truck transfers are of like and similar use to wastewater storage and hauling and, therefore could be allowed in the CG zone,” George wrote in his staff report. “There are a limited number of privately owned CG properties within the city. It is unlikely that the private property owners will allow this use on their property.”
The building official notes that is necessary to pump septic systems on a regular and ongoing basis. “Smaller pump trucks are utilized to pump individual septic systems and then the material is pumped into larger trucks for transport and disposal.
These transfers have routinely occurred on Civic Center Way at Winter Canyon and on Pacific Coast Highway at Heathercliff Road. “The concerns expressed over spills is unwarranted as there have been no observed spills during pumper truck transfers. Allowing pumper truck transfers within the city reduces the cost of onsite wastewater treatment system maintenance and traffic impacts on Pacific Coast Highway and in the canyons,” George wrote in his report.
The staff report is available online at

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