Environmental Press # 42

Subj: OOG: Fwd: Buena Park Unanimous Resolution Against The Waiver
Date: Wed, 3 Jul 2002 12:54:45 AM Eastern Daylight Time
From: Jon V3
To: Jon V3
Dear Ocean Outfall Group (OOG), dedicated to ending the 301(h) waiver held by the Orange County Sanitation District (OCSD):

Excellent news from Buena Park. See Doug Korthof's historic account of the meeting below, as well as what happened at the Midway City Sanitary District, not so good news. This to me shows good government by the Buena Park City Council. The Council took the time to go over the issue. The Council then deliberated, with individual council members giving their reasons, and ultimately coming to a unanimous vote against the waiver. They did not just delegate the responsibility to one councilmember who was the OCSD representative. I consider this an example of good government by Buena Park. Thank you, Buena Park.

Jan Vandersloot (949) 548-6326

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Subj: Buena Park Unanimous Resolution against the waiver
Date: Tue, 02 Jul 2002 20:51:00 -0700
From: Doug Korthof <doug@seal-beach.org>
To: JonV3@aol.com (via CleanOcean@orange-county.net)

Hi,
Buena Park, after twice postponing the vote on the waiver to do more study, harvest more opinions, and mull it over, finally held a vote today, coming up with some amazing reasoning that I for one had not heard before.

New twists and turns keep appearing in this issue all the time, it's not simple at all.

The council knew all about the money issues, and all about the claimed 11 year lag, which they took with a sceptical cant, like that's how long Government might take if it drags its heels. There was some wonder at why OCSD is so adamant about keeping the waiver, since it give them more "business". An eye-opening exchange that shows that many of the councils know very well all the amazing things that we are just finding out about, like the interplay of conflicting interests.

But the plain fact that seemed to weigh most heavily was the OCBC acknowledgement that we would have to move toward secondary treatment, and their assumption that UV sterilization would eventually be necessary -- supplied by a USA company, I hope -- and even that we would want to re-use all that water now dumped into the Ocean.

Other items:
Sigler pointed out that OCSD, if they gave up the waiver, would operate under a consent decree, a kind of declining, negotiated waiver. He also stated that OCSD could with existing plant fire up 35% more secondary, maybe building the rest in less than 11 years. Sigler had pointed out that this was a hard decision, and was worthy of all the time and effort they put in on it. Berry wondered about the cost, and how it would be paid for, and joined Sigler in examining the effects of a disaster--e.g., earthquake. Mayor Marshall pointed out that Maddox' AB1969 was taking local business statewide. Dow wanted to solve Buena Park's problems locally. Dow wondered about how it could be good for bottom feeding fish to consume all this detritus, and its effects on sea mammals. Brown pointed out if they did not pass a resolution, OCSD would drag their heels for a long time, and maybe we would be as bad as Santa Monica Bay [where sludge from years of dumping still festers on the bottom]. Someone talked about the tourist industry, OC's reputation, and lots more. I missed a lot, but the fun thing was the level of sophistication. They all know how hard it is to move bureaucracy.

At the end, the vote was unanimous, and Councilmember Brown moved to pass a formal resolution embodying the Council's will, which also passed unanimously.

Faith in local government was restored. But wait...Midway City Sanitation District provided a prior counter example! At Midway City, there were about 12 waiver opponents, and one ex-employee of LASD, who claimed it would take "11 years and $500 million in fines to go to full secondary..." although one of our local representatives has contacted EPA, which reaffirmed their policy of negotiated compliance ... a sort of consent decree.

The MCSD Board had listened patiently to everyone at public comment, but took offense at some of our remarks (for example, mentioning that the Little Hoover Commission Report had criticised OCSD) and Joy Neugebauer, the OCSD rep, read a long self-justifying letter from OCSD about how they were in full compliance, it's not really a waiver, ("a legal misnomer"), they are not operating outside the law (true), and so on. But the interesting part was after they ran copies of the letter for all of the public, two members took the time to accost us with a not-for-public-ears diatribe about the failings of the little Hoover report. They ended with ordering the secretary to "...call the police and escort these people off the premises...". They were dissuaded by cooler heads on staff, who wondered if that were legal...nevertheless, feeling unwanted, most left.

The MCSD Board did not answer or respond to facts mentioned by waiver critics. They have the right to ignore public comment, of course, but ignoring a problem will not make it go away. The job of political officeholders, it would seem, would be to tackle hard choices and agonize over them, not abuse the messenger.

/Doug

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