Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Is there a Rosa Parks in Los Osos?

Los Osos, it's time to throw some tea overboard. It's time to not move to the back of the bus. It's time for some serious defiance.

But for any defiance to work in this case, you must work backwards.

If you've received a Cease and Desist order from the Regional Water Quality Control Board, the very first thing you need to do to successfully defy the Board is fill your septic tank with sand, or cement, or whatever they use these days to officially decommission them. That's exactly what the Water Board has been demanding since 1988, when they amended Resolution No. 83-13 to prohibit sewage discharges in Los Osos.

To make sense out of what to do next requires some foundation.

According to reports, the RWQCB has told Cease and Desist Order recipients that composting toilets are not an option in the prohibition zone. However, from a 2004 RWQCB document, where staff is explaining the Board's options in Los Osos, it reads:
    - - -
    [All bolding mine]
    Require Alternative Waste Disposal Units – The Regional Board could (through General Waste Discharge Requirements, Cleanup and Abatement Orders, or Cease and Desist Orders) require use of alternative waste disposal units.

    Advanced treatment units (for improved effluent quality), portable toilets and/or composting toilets (for reduced discharges, as discussed in previous section regarding prohibiting black water discharges) could be required. Such units could be required for existing discharges using Cleanup and Abatement or Cease and Desist Orders, or for new discharges using General Waste Discharge Requirements.

    Pros: For those existing discharges where such alternatives are implemented, water quality improvement will occur. If General Waste Discharge Requirements are adopted by the Regional Board which authorize development of vacant lots, then this method may also provide benefits similar to those described under the 'Rescinding Resolution No. 83-13' section above.

    Cons: Widespread implementation of this alternative would result in more costly waste treatment and less effective water quality protection than that offered by the community sewer. However, it remains one of the few alternatives, which can result in water quality improvement and is not subject to Coastal Commission approval. The previous discussion about the questionable availability of this huge number of outhouses, would also apply to availability of other types of alternative treatment methods.
    - - -

Wow.

Notice how their "cons" have nothing to do with things like feasibility and nuisance, instead it says stuff like, "Widespread implementation of this alternative would result in more costly waste treatment."

That quote tells me two things: 1) Widespread implementation of this alternative is possible, and 2) "would result in more costly waste treatment," is not even close to being accurate, unless they mean by the reluctant few that hold out for a community sewer system, because that would "result in MUCH more costly waste treatment" for them. And even if it was more costly, the cost of "the few alternatives, which can result in water quality improvement" is entirely up to the property owner.

Then they say that composting toilets offer "less effective water quality protection than that offered by the community sewer."

How is that possible? What part of "zero" in "zero discharge" am I not getting? In reality, the use of such a system would dramatically reduce a household's water use, therefore aiding all kinds of water issues in the area, including the saltwater intrusion problem in Los Osos. It appears that hi-tech, environmentally friendly, composting toilets offer much, much more "effective water quality protection than that offered by the community sewer."

That means their only other "con" is "availability," and that's simply a terrible argument. Why don't we leave the availability question up to the composting toilet manufacturers? I'm sure they would relish the opportunity to make them available.

It appears, according to the RWQCB's own documents, there is no downside with composting toilets, and lots of up side, and if you ask me (and I'm sure just about every attorney not associated with the Water Board, as well) that all adds up to tacit approval to install a modern, hi-tech composting toilet system.

An excellent source knowledgeable in these matters recently told me, "They said what they said, [composting toilets are] on the table as a viable option. The decision (the dollar one) is for the discharger. As a discharger, it is my decision how I meet the discharge order (within certain codes and guidelines). Remember, the RWQCB never mandated a sewer, they prohibited a discharge."

Then the source added, "Seems to me it would make a great test case. Take one of those houses with the C&D and show the Board their working composting toilets and they should be off the hook... and that's a hook from them as well as from anything the County is cooking up."

To handle other sewage needs, like shower, dish and laundry water, you'll have to install an appropriate modern, hi-tech greywater recycling system. According to web sites, that system, through a series of filters, reverse osmosis, and other treatment methods, would clean your water, return it for reuse, and some models have the entire system under your house, out of sight. (What sucks about having to purchase a greywater system in this deal, is that if your septic tank is 30 feet or more above the groundwater, as many homes are in the prohibition zone, RWQCB documents state that you could be granted an exemption to Resolution 83-13 that would allow you to continue to use your septic tank just for greywater. But since they are a bunch of incompetent, vindictive, a-holes, they are not going to do that. And so they are going to force you to shell out for the cost of the greywater system, and to decommission your septic tank, just to cover their ass. Jerks.)

Septic tank filled with sand? Check.

"Advanced" composting toilets professionally installed to ensure that your only "black water" discharge is to your unobtrusive composting bin (that's housed in an attractive compartment in your backyard), and that the RWQCB considered requiring? Check.

Greywater recycling system in place? Check.

Generator purchased in the event of a blackout? Check.

Congratulations. Not only are you not discharging a drop of anything, but you now own a model home for handling wastewater in the most environmentally gentle method possible, at about a quarter of the cost of hooking up to a community sewer. And you didn't have to rip up your street to do it. Dare I say... better, cheaper, faster.

Now -- and here's the good, dramatic, tea-overboard, "No, Mr. bus driver, I will not move to the back of the bus," act-of-defiance part -- after your new systems are installed and operating perfectly, show up at your scheduled RWQCB meeting, and when it's your turn to appear in front of that group of... is "sadistic clowns" too harsh?..., bring a paper shredder with you to the podium, and, without saying a word, take your copy of the Cease and Desist order, hold it up high so everyone can clearly see what it is, flip on the shredder, pop that sucker in, and then hold the machine up above your head during the duration of the CDO shredding process, as the Board sits there and watches. They won't know what to say.

Then simply turn, and grin, and walk out of the room with your hand a-waivin'. Buh-bye Water Board, been nice knowin' ya.

And if they still want to come after you for violating Resolution No. 83-13, say, "I'll see you in court, assholes," where you will easily win, because you are not discharging anything but compost, and they are going to have to make the argument that compost is a discharge, and even if they do -- and it would be laughable to watch them try -- the compost can simply be trucked out of the prohibition zone by some enterprising septic business, and sold as fertilizer to the county for its golf courses, thus offsetting the cost of the systems, and it's still zero discharge in the prohibition zone. Oh, and one more thing, IT WAS THEIR IDEA!

Their arguments would be so weak, I can't imagine how they would pursue it.

Plus, as if it couldn't get any more embarrassing for the Regional Water Quality Control Board, they would be going after you because you chose the fast-track route that they said "will" lead to improved Water Quality. Man, that'd be fun to watch, and report on.

Win that, and you will, and everything sewer related in Los Osos will be in your rear-view mirror. Do that once, and there will be no sewer.

Is there a Rosa Parks in Los Osos?

###

13 Comments:

  • I wish I still lived in Los Osos and I would do it... just to fuck with them.

    But here are some problems... if you were to do this, you may STILL have to pay for the sewer project. If a 218 vote passes, they can still bill you on your property taxes for the sewer project. Just like you pay for roads even if you dont drive a car.

    You would have to get enought people on board with this idea so that they would vote down the 218 vote... as it would no longer be necessary.

    Once that happens, then the county abandons the project and then what??

    I'll let you run with the next part.

    But it seems the key would be enough people buying into it that the 218 vote fails... one Rosa Parks aint gonna do it... she'd end up paying for the sewer anyway.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:53 PM, January 09, 2007  

  • You also forgot to mention that the RWQCB can set permit fees, "discharge monitoring" fees, annual testing fees and requirements anywhere they want -- don't think for a minute that they will be required to match science to rational fees or testing requirements -- these are the people who dreamed up the Mad Pumping Scheme and issued a "discharge" permit to TRI-W inside a zero-discharge zone. So, you install your system and they require that your wastewater recycling system be tested every two weeks at a cost of $300 for lab fees and monitoring fees of $400 for a total of $1,400 a month. Still interested?

    By Blogger Churadogs, at 7:45 AM, January 10, 2007  

  • "But here are some problems... if you were to do this, you may STILL have to pay for the sewer project."

    I'm not so sure about that. That source I quote is an excellent source, and that person said, "... show the Board their working composting toilets and they should
    be off the hook... and that's a hook from them as well as from anything the County is cooking up."

    Ann wrote:

    "You also forgot to mention that the RWQCB can set permit fees, "discharge monitoring" fees, annual testing fees and requirements anywhere they want"

    If they did that, then play the martyr card, and they'll look even more horrible than they already do, because you are choosing to take the quickest route to what they said would clean water faster, and now they would be doing everything in their power to stop you from achieving cleaner water faster. Then I would do everything in my power to make sure that everyone, including Blakeslee's office, and every other legislator in the State, was fully aware if it -- that the Regional Water Quality Control Board was blocking you from your efforts to improve Water Quality... using their idea.

    Personally, I also think there's a lot of legal recourse involved in the permitting/monitoring area, too. Discharge monitoring fees? For what? What are you discharging?

    Where they f-d up is when they wrote that stuff on composting toilets, they did it casually, thinking that no one would opt for that route. Oooooooops!

    That document would just destroy them in any court. All the judge would have to do is look at it and say, "Well, it was YOUR idea."

    I just can't see them playing hardball with that issue. For who? For what? It would make them look so bad... errrr... I mean even worse, if that's possible.

    By Blogger Ron, at 9:32 AM, January 10, 2007  

  • Ann, I have an update on the monitoring thing (good points, by the way).

    I just got off the phone with Creekside Labs, a water testing facility in SLO, and I asked them if they could custom design a testing package to test treated greywater to make sure it was passable, the answer was, "Yes," and it would cost about $200 per test. He added that semi-annual testing is common in places like mobile home parks.

    I also want to change a word in something I wrote above.

    I wrote:

    "... that the Regional Water Quality Control Board was blocking you from your efforts to improve Water Quality..."

    I want to change the word "blocking" to "coercing" in that sentence. If the local Water Board, through excessive fees and other BS, is going to twist the arm of someone that goes the route I'm talking about, that's not "blocking," that's "coercing."

    They better be very careful with that.

    By Blogger Ron, at 1:05 PM, January 10, 2007  

  • Someone likens Julie Tacker to Ghandi. David Dugan compares Los Osos to Nazi Germany. Crawford is looking for Rosa Parks in the middle of a sewer controvery. You fuckers are sick, sick, sick.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:54 AM, January 11, 2007  

  • Ron, as far as I can tell the Water Board dosn't care a whit about looking stupid, due process, federal law, ect.
    They simply change the rules to fit their intended outcome.
    It is a classic case of bueracracy without meanigfull oversight.
    It will all end up in court sometime I'm sure, everything else has.

    By Blogger Mike Green, at 6:35 PM, January 11, 2007  

  • Ron sez:"Personally, I also think there's a lot of legal recourse involved in the permitting/monitoring area, too. Discharge monitoring fees? For what? What are you discharging?:

    The problem has always been Who defines the meaning of the words? If you watch how these CDOs have been morphing, the language morphing as they go along, you can see the process at work. Simply keep changing the words and their meanings, dropping out some word here, others there, add a few here, and Voi La! you're in Humpty Dumpty land: A word means exactly what I say it shall mean. And judges are amost always deferential to the "experts," never mind that these are the "experts" who dreamed up their mad pumping scheme any anyone who knows anything about septic tanks would tell you was a really bad idea. Doesn't matter. RWQCB wants a certain outcome, they will maniuplate the language or "requirements" until they get it, all the while denying that they're violating any of their own rules or mandates. So what? So, sue us . . . neener-neener.

    The sadest part is their role as regulators is vital, but if they're incompetent and corrupt, then they end up doing more damage, which is not the point behind their creation. Right now, there is no effective check or balance to correct Boards and staffs that are running amok. It's a SYSTEM that's out of whack. And right now, the wolf runs the fox. There IS no guard dog.

    By Blogger Churadogs, at 7:30 AM, January 12, 2007  

  • An Anon wrote:

    "Crawford is looking for Rosa Parks in the middle of a sewer controvery."

    Wait 'til you see who I'm going to nominate for the test case, and why. Great stuff.

    And, if that test case is successful, and I ain't seein' any "fatal flaws" yet, it is THEIR idea, by the way, it could save your community upwards of $100 million, your streets don't get ripped up, and your community instantly begins to heal... months before the advisory election the county is planning for the first half of 2008, '08!... just for the advisory election to take place. That distant date alone should have you Googling things like "composting toilets" "zero-discharge" today.

    You're welcome.

    Ann wrote:

    " RWQCB wants a certain outcome, they will maniuplate the language or "requirements" until they get it, all the while denying that they're violating any of their own rules or mandates. "

    But, can they do that with a document they have already produced? My question is, can they un-ring the bell in their 2004 document? As my source said, "They said, what they said." Can they now come out and say, "Oh, no, no, no... that's not what we meant back in 2004. What we meant to say is what SewerWatch is talking about in 2007... things like "nuisance," and "feasibility." THAAAAAT's what we meant to say about composting toilets in 2004."?

    They can't do that, can they? Can they un-ring that bell?

    "Right now, there is no effective check or balance to correct Boards and staffs that are running amok."

    No one's policing the police, and that seems to be a big problem. If they can simply put out a document, and then two years later, when that document no longer supports their agenda, they can just toss it in the garbage like it never existed and then start saying the exact opposite of what that document said, then, yes, they have run amok. I mean, what in the hell is that?

    By Blogger Ron, at 11:37 AM, January 12, 2007  

  • ron sez:"But, can they do that with a document they have already produced? My question is, can they un-ring the bell in their 2004 document? As my source said, "They said, what they said." Can they now come out and say, "Oh, no, no, no... that's not what we meant back in 2004. What we meant to say is what SewerWatch is talking about in 2007... things like "nuisance," and "feasibility." THAAAAAT's what we meant to say about composting toilets in 2004."?"

    It's very curious to me, but if you read the CDO document sent out after they started their Do Over Trials and compare it with the official information they've posted for the jan 22 "trial," and read all the CDO official documents sent to CDO recipients inbetween, you'll see language disappearing. Also, it's not clear what the word "discharge" means any more since it's been uncoupled from the words pollution or nuissance or waters of the state of california & etc. In short, the morphing of language (and disappearance of same) appears to be exactly what this Board & staff ARE up to. (Orwell's 1984 was exactly this process: erase and rewrite the past and so keep changing the present -- We always never didn't say so and so.

    By Blogger Churadogs, at 7:19 AM, January 14, 2007  

  • Ann wrote:

    "Also, it's not clear what the word "discharge" means any more..."

    That seems to be the crux of the matter. What do they mean by "discharge" these days? The definition of that word seems to get tighter and tighter. Is it just me, or are they very, very close to calling "watering your lawn with a sprinkler" a "discharge?"

    By Blogger Ron, at 10:55 AM, January 14, 2007  

  • I own a house in Los Osos and am going to remodel it. I think a composting toiled is a good idea. NO DISCHARGE at all. These are used in the Alaskan Tundra and all over the world. They conform to Gov reulatory bodys also.

    Envirolet® Composting Toilet Systems by Sancor meet, comply or exceed any and all Standards required for composting toilet systems in both Canada and the United States. Envirolet® is certified, accepted or recognized by the applicable government and regulatory bodies.

    No water, no burning, no chemicals.
    It seems like the right thing to do no matter what the septic outcome is.

    The cost is about $1700.00

    Your new neighbor: Duane Woodman

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:40 PM, January 14, 2007  

  • Another item:

    There are many composting toilets available but here is a site to get a a pdf booklet on different toilet styles. Another benefit: no printing, postage and other efforts to print a sales manual. Copy and paste in your browser the below link.

    http://www.envirolet.com/catdownload.html

    Duane Woodman

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:52 PM, January 14, 2007  

  • Cute little literary indulgence, but you either have no idea what the scope of work of the TAC is, or choose to overlook those facts for the sake of a fun story. The problem is, this kind of piece only adds to the stress that the property owners are already feeling while others are actually making an effort to make a project possible.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:33 AM, April 12, 2007  

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