Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Core Question

For now, the SewerWatch Blog is focused on getting an answer to this question:

Q. What was the rational for keeping the park in the sewer project after the treatment facility footprint dropped from 70 acres to about 5 acres, and the cost of the entire project skyrocketed?

The best answer I've received is from CSD Vice-President, Gordon Hensley. He said:

"Frankly I do not have an answer - but I think you are correct that IS the core issue."

The reason I am focusing on that question is because the following line is found in the California Coastal Commission, August 2004 meeting, staff report, page 89:

"... other alternatives (to the Tri-W location) were rejected on the basis that they did not accomplish project objectives for centrally located community amenities."


In other words, the ONLY reason the facility is being proposed for the "centrally located" Tri-W site is the park, and I've yet to find a good reason why there is a park in the sewer project (see my letter below).



More to come...

2 Comments:

  • The question posed is certainly interesting. I don't have the answer. If your important issue for one is to assign blame, then knock yourself out.

    I didn't vote for the formation of the CSD or the solutions group team in 1998/2000, and I just don't see that assigning them all the blame is a productive undertaking at this point in time. Maybe I'd be more incensed if I'd put them in office in the first place. Keep in mind the Solutions Group clearly stated they would create park space with the sewer. They also clearly stated that we're only going to sewer less than half the town, a seemingly obvious (or so I thought) contradiction to the definition of the prohibion zone.

    Why people would vote for such an obvious disconnect in 1998 boggles my mind to this day - but they did, and with 87%, abd thereby rejecting an out-of-town sewer. Also keep in mind that property owners in 2001 voted with an 84% vote (and I did vote for that) to fund a bond for the express purpose of creating a plant (part above grade/part below) and park at Tri-W; it is explicit in the assesment Exhibit A of the bond measure).

    BTW, the bond fund or recovered monies in the bond fund cannot be used for alternate designs (ARE YOU LISTENING PEOPLE!). They go to the current project, or they go towards repayment of the debt. More about that later.

    Apparently, Los Osos didn't really mind the location that much in 1998 or 2001 - so you see, rantings about the location fall on my 'deaf ears'.

    Regardless, the real CORE QUESTION facing Los Osos in June, 2005 is:

    What decision should the LOCSD make in order to implement a compliant treatment system, reduce groundwater pollution, and thereby allow property owners in the prohibition zone to comply with the law?

    Option A) They can proceed with the current project. The risks and mitigation are:

    Broderson leachfields: The potential for eventual failure of the leachfields exists.

    Mitigation: Leachfields can be rotated, without discontinuing discarging. The potential to discharge fully treated effluent from the plant to alternate uses remains a future alternative.

    Liquefaction: this is such a red herring. Currently, due to high groundwater levels at low AND higher elevations, liquefaction potential already exists throughout Los Osos.

    In any case, the project provides mitigation via harvest wells for the dual purpose of maintaining groundwater levels and supplying water for blending or non-potable use.

    Upper Aquifer pollution. This is the problem to begin with, and it's a problem with any project solution. We don't know the precise magnitude and component of pollution, although we have a general picture.

    Mitigation: ANY PROJECT MUST DEAL WITH THIS. The current project will 'cleanse' the aquifer, albeit over a period of years. The harvest wells will allow for utilizing the upper aquifer for blending or potential non-potable uses. And yes, that means future costs, which can be spread to the entire district, not just the proh. zone prop. owners.

    COST. It's all about the cost, and it's the reason Los Osos voters have been zig-zagging and avoiding reality for 20+ years. It will be an issue for any project.

    Mitigation: None, unless you refinance, rent out a room, sell/move, work more OT, or resort to some additional income generating ventures. Lovely options, indeed.

    Option B) Los Osos can come to a halt. And then what?? Here's where the fun starts.

    Re-design you say. OK, first you need a LOT of money just to re-design. You cannot legally use the bond money or proceeds without approval of the property owners. Yes, another stinking bond measure.

    All in favor of voting for another $10 million to 'move the sewer' (permits, EIRs, studies, consultants, etc.), raise your hands. Oh, and by the way, if the stinking ordinance passes and is deemed legal, guess what - you property owners can spend a sizeable portion of that money and, get this, GET REJECTED by vote of everyone. Welcome to the twi-light zone for Los Osos prohibition property owners.

    Really, READ the initiative ordinance; it has a 'No Project' option mandated for the vote. I'm sure the RWQCB will accept a 'No Project' option. Hey, let's just all abandon our property, that'l solve the pollution and you'll save $200/month.

    As for the savings for a new project. Well, there's the re-design cost to eat into that. There's inflation over the next 4-5 years. Maybe we'll get lucky and have a depression and costs will collapse.

    So let's say that we can save $20-40 million (which has not yet been comprehensively shown by anyone). $5 million for design/litigation. $0-$40 million for inflation. $0-10/20 million or ? for fines. And the $20 million for what is already owed doesn't go away.

    Do Los Osos really want to go there? Or are people really just trying to buy some more time?

    By Anonymous Joe Sparks, at 4:53 PM, June 16, 2005  

  • Hello Joe,

    Thank you so much for your comments.

    Couple quick thoughts:

    You say:

    "Regardless, the real CORE QUESTION facing Los Osos in June, 2005 is:
    What decision should the LOCSD make in order to implement a compliant treatment system, reduce groundwater pollution, and thereby allow property owners in the prohibition zone to comply with the law?"

    I agree with that.

    You say:

    "All in favor of voting for another $10 million to 'move the sewer' (permits, EIRs, studies, consultants, etc.), raise your hands."

    $10 million sounds cheap to me... seems like the CSD could make that up quickly in the savings from not having to build the "wave wall," not having to bury the facilities, not having to build and maintain the park, and the profit from selling 11 acres of prime real estate. That sounds like a lot more than $10 mil to me.

    Then, once you have that $10 million worth of permits, etc. in hand, you're good to go... without a disastrously expensive park in the plan. Fast-track a bare-bones, viable facility out of town, and get this damn thing over with.

    You did bring one thing to my attention that I wasn't aware of:

    "Really, READ the initiative ordinance; it has a 'No Project' option mandated for the vote."

    If that's true, then that's ridiculous... sounds like they may over-extended there.

    Again, thanks for the post.

    By Blogger Ron, at 10:46 AM, June 17, 2005  

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