Thursday, August 25, 2005

End All 'Waivers' Of The Clean Water Act in California

by guest blogger and community activist, Joey Racano,
check his site:

Dear Friends,

Please allow me to introduce myself. I am a Joey Racano, a founding member of the Orange County Ocean Outfall Group, dedicated to ending all 'waivers' of the Clean Water Act in California.

I am also the author of a book on activism and--perhaps most importantly--I am the author of the 'A-B-C Plan,' a regional wastewater treatment plan for the Morro Bay Estuary watershed.

The 'A-B-C Plan' (or more formally known as the Andre-Bay-Cayucos' Plan) has been officially endorsed by the San Luis Bay Chapter of Surfrider Foundation and elected officials from a coalition of central coast cities.

In the course of creating and implementing such a watershed-wide plan, it is necessary to address the fundamental problems impacting the Morro Bay Estuary, not the least of which is the swirling controversy surrounding the proposed wastewater treatment facility in Los Osos.

Let's begin by acknowledging the existence of a September 1997 report entitled "A Detailed Examination of the San Luis Obispo County Nitrate Sampling "Program" by Wade Brim which has convinced many, including me, that the entire 'high nitrates--we need a sewer' emergency was a complete fabrication. Mr. Brim's credentials and qualifications are too numerous to list here.

This report was submitted to all involved agencies (FED EPA, California Coastal Commission, CCRWQCB, DWR, SWRCB, etc) and found that seven of the ten test wells (like CSA-9, for instance) were never given sanitary seal and in fact some were actually a source of nitrate contamination of the upper aquifer!

Further, please be aware of a May 2002 letter written by Environmental Consultant James F. Kreissl, in which he states:

"I was distressed to see the misinterpretation of my 1994 report on possible solutions for Los Osos wastewater problems provided by (CCRWQCB)Gerhardt Hubner and signed by Ms. McGovern of USEPA..."

He goes on to say: "To claim that my report supported an areawide conventional sewer system is a gross misrepresentation of my report".

Until and unless these and other more recent unsettling issues concerning the CCRWQCB are addressed (see, the wastewater treatment plant as currently proposed for Los Osos can neither move forward nor should it even be taken seriously.

I also have other enormous concerns with the Los Osos project of which I shall list ten:

1. A study must be done to identify what contaminants are in the upper aquifer in order to protect the integrity of the lower drinking water aquifer when effluent is disposed of at area 'C' beneath the hillside at Broderson. We may be about to poison our own water supply!

2. Contrary to misinformation being spread by the Los Osos Community Services District's deceptive PR spin campaign, the Los Osos Wastewater Treatment Plant as currently proposed does not address the #1 threat to this community--the peril of salt water intrusion.

A recent study has shown salt water is currently beneath Palisades Ave and moving in at 60 feet per year. My A-B-C Regional Plan would act to counter that advance by supplying treated effluent to agricultural interests, who currently suck 1 Million Gallons per day from the lower aquifer. They would no longer have to do so! The Los Osos plant as currently proposed does no such thing.

3. It is the height of recklessness to 'protect' the environment from pollution by placing a sewer plant right next to--and directly uphill from--the Morro Bay National Estuary.

4. Under the currnt plan for building the Los Osos plant, a small part of the community would have to pay for it all, causing an estimated 3,000 people to move from their homes. Many of these people are elderly. Others are Latino and their community was virtually excluded from the entire process when the LOCSD mysteriously ceased printing community information in Spanish.

5. There is money available for regional wastewater treatment plans for which the myopic LOWWTP as currently proposed does not qualify.

6. A precedent was recently set by the SWRCB in Sacramento as they stopped large-scale logging operations in two watersheds, ordering enforcement of the 'WWWDR', or Watershed-Wide Waste Discharge Requirement.' The 'WWWDR' certainly applies here in the Morro Bay Estuary watershed.

7. If you build a sewer in the center of town, all it will take is 12 odor complaints in a 24 hour period to bring on fines of Ten Thousand and up to twenty-five Thousand Dollars per day! Are you really that sure about controlling the odors from your bouquet?

8. There is great risk in a WWTP that costs nearly $200,000,000.00 (and rising) but doesn't recycle, or eliminate the need to import water, doesn't protect the estuary, doesn't stop salt water intrusion--and don't
forget the constant flow of sludge trucks in and out of the center of town, all laden with sludge so dirty it is neither class 'A' nor class 'B'--it is actually 'No Name' sludge! All this, and built with an accompanying park and 'tot-lot'? The risks are simply too great.

9. A system comparable to that proposed at Tri-W is being built at CMC for $17 Million but is costing $46 Million at Tri-W! The inflated costs are clearly associated with the Tri-W location.

10. The threat of Regional board fines can be addressed with legislation that would be available for a regional full tertiary system. Such legislation would exempt the participating cities from such fines, whereas the Los Osos Wastewater fascility is currently proposed to be built in a low-lying ravine just uphill from the Morro Bay National Estuary and so would be fined by the Regional Board when the plant 'surcharges' (spills sewage) every holiday and every rainstorm!

By building a regional plan, there will be no delay. Los Osos will still come on line in less than 3 years with Morro Bay and Cayucos hooking in later.

Remember: the cost of a regional sewer will forever drop as more and more entities join up and hook in. It is not a good idea to put a sewer next to the estuary, and it is not a good idea to spend $200 Million of 21st Century money for a 19th Century sewer being forced upon you by three guys about to be shown the door and a regional water board rife with embarrassing conflicts.

Vote YES on the recall. Let's go with the regional plan.

Joey Racano
Ocean Outfall Group, email: joeylittleshell at

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