Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Urine Separation Pumping Alternative- Letter to RWQCB- Design Plan for Property

Lori Okun and Philip G. Wyels
Senior Staff Counsel and Assistant Chief Counsel
State Water Resources Control Board
Office of Chief Counsel

RE: Steven Paige- Comments for April 28, 2006, Central Coast RWQCB Hearing

Dear Honorable Board Members and Council,
I have made a voluntary proposal to cut the Nitrogen emissions on my property by 58%. On March 23 I turned over to your office an alternative measure to septic pumping. The site plan and validation of the design are attached to this letter. It follows the logic of the approved order for segregation and transfer of Nitrogen laden waste from the septic tanks. Septic pumping by your estimation will reduce Total Nitrogen by 22%.
The solution I propose is a copy of a well studied Swedish solution to ‘smart pump’ source separate urine waste by behavior modification. You install a urine only toilet (Bidet) and isolated storage tank, then pump the segregated contents causing the following positive effects:

1) It prevents the unprecedented withdrawal from the water basin of 22 to36 Million Gallons a year caused by septic pumping if required Community wide.

2) It cuts Estuary Airshed NOx to Water Borne Nitrogen emissions from diesel truck effluvium hauling by 90% by reducing the hauled liquid volume.

3) Using EPA data, it reduces Total Nitrogen from the waste stream by 58% compared to 22% described in your pumping order.

4) It cost me 1/10 the amount of money per year for compliance.

5) With the additional removal of my garbage disposal, it would allow immediate improvement of waste discharge for Nitrogen in an order of magnitude that matches your approved waste discharge permit for the Broderson reclamation leachfields. The resultant Nitrogen release from the balance of my septic effluvium is approximately the same for my family as the amount allowed by your previous discharge permit but includes additional water conservation, not basin withdrawal.

My intension is to install the equipment so I can be given a section §13269 PCA Waiver by your office. I would expect a small processing fee to be appropriate based on my ability to pay. I think it would like you to consider an individual ‘Minor Violation Notice’ Section §13399 PCA because it is more fitting to the level of pollution. I’m not a major sewer plant or big industrial polluter. My methodology of Nitrate removal, because its environmental impact is less than yours, is my personal choice of compliance subject to § 13360 PCA:

“Manner of compliance

(a) No waste discharge requirement or other order of a regional board or the state board or decree of a court issued under this division shall specify the design, location, type of construction, or particular manner in which compliance may be had with that requirement, order, or decree, and the person so ordered shall be
permitted to comply with the order in any lawful manner.”

Myself and other residents with limited economic resources have reservations about the boards choice to issue a ‘zero’ discharge order after 2010 because one standard is allowed by the Los Osos Community Service District outlined in their discharge permit and another standard is imposed on homeowner’s to cease individual discharges after 2010.
If the LOCSD wastewater discharge permit meets federal standards that by law they had to, then the individual discharge standards of the People’s CDO’s exceeds federal standards and it’s cost to homeowners should be legally contested. The zero emission requirements are unnecessarily expensive and restrictive for homeowners.

Also, the dual standards clearly are inconsistent with Sec. 304 FEDERAL WATER POLLUTION CONTROL ACT encouraging sustainable, scaled, and economic water treatment. Simply put, the action eliminates altogether the use of sustainable, alternative, energy efficient, small scale waste treatment. Section ‘304’ encourages “promulgating” those systems as required and directed by Federal Law.

Further, With perceptions like the ones expressed in the Administrative Civil Liability Complaint No. R3-2005-0137 Pg. 430 lines 18,19,20 against the LOCSD where Chairman Young Stated:

“It's quite clear to me that the folks of Los Osos, in my opinion, are really not capable of addressing these issues with their wastewater disposal in a rational way.”

It’s hard not to assume that prejudice against small scale compliance led to the two different rulings being imposed. The zero emissions requirement conflicts with federal law directing States to ‘promulgate’ alternative systems and consider them as secondary treatment.

In a broader sense for all Californian’s, the ‘Zero’ emissions order also seems to be in conflict with extensive Federal studies encouraging sustainable on site solutions, small scale cluster systems, or community wide systems that use energy and economics as a critical path.

EPA smart growth policies and objectives of minimizing infrastructure while increasing urban population density cannot be consistent with the zero emissions requirement. If Porter Cologne enforcement is to have positive public participation, flexible ‘smart growth’ enforcement that uses a menu of solutions would give the PCA more ‘contemporary’ environmental creditability and quicker results. It is the only way we are going to get ‘smart growth’ density in Los Osos and still meet CEQA regulations and watershed criteria. Public participation is the key. So assuming the public are a bunch of idiots is THE real tragedy. Like myself, they are the key to the solution.

I think we have all suffered from the ‘cognitive dissonance’ of the Los Osos sewer issue, myself included. Tensions and misconceptions of Board members have made the CDO orders for individual home owners way out of the ordinary. Again, I think Minor Violation Notice’ Section §13399 PCA is a more appropriate to the level of pollution on my property and gives you more flexibility to encourage things like water conservation or integrate on site impervious drainage recharge (roof runoff) as a ‘blending requirement’ for septic tank outfall. Many older homes in Los Osos do not have on site drainage reclamation. Using kinder more flexible enforcement would give you immediate results and raise environmental awareness. Punitive pumping measures that withdraw 36 Million gallons of water from the basin without a CEQA study could be replaced with MVN’s and smarter effluvium management like I have suggested.

My second concern would be that the studies of the water contamination of the Morro Bay Estuary seem faulted. When a major pollution source has been entirely omitted from the Basin Plan and Morro Bay National Monitoring Program there is no possibility of scientific validity. That source is the Morro Bay Power Plant and the interrelationship of Air Shed NOx emissions and TN found in Bay waters.

Federal Studies of similar watersheds found in the sited references below disclose the fact that an average of 25% of the Power Plant NOx emissions return to the waters of Morro Bay. The recent License for the Duke Power NOx emissions allows 260 tons of NOx per year. If Federal studies are correct ,then for the last 50 years 25% of over 260 tons/yr (conservative estimate) or 3250 tons of Nitrogen has been recaptured into the Bay Hydrologic cycle from the Morro Bay Power Plant without having been included in Watershed planning and measurements. Any premise drawn from a plan without this Nitrogen input is without scientific merit.

Here are some simple math calculations that exemplify my concern:

For houeshold Nitrogen production:
If we compute the grams per household per day:
280 gal/Household X 3.78 L/gal X .007 g/L =
7.4 grams per household / day of TN allowed in the Broderson discharge permit.

Looking at the unstudied Power Plant Pollution:
260 tons (conservative) X 2200 lbs X 1/5000 Households X 1/365 per day =
0.31 lbs/day/household
From the referenced air shed studies below 25 % of
Air NOx returns to the Estuary so:
.31 lbs. X 25%( Air NOx to Waterborne N ratio) X 448 grams/lb =
34 Grams Total Nitrogen/day/household for forty years!

The allowed Nitrogen per household per day is 7.4 grams in the TRI-W Permit seems incidental to the allowed unstudied Power plant NOx to waterborne Nitrogen of 34 grams per household per day from the Power Plant Emissions. If these figures are even partly right, how could the Cease and Desist Orders be related to sound science. The Morro Bay Power Plant has been operating for 40 years and easily could be a major contributor to ground water TN in the aquifer. Its contribution has never been included in the Basin Plan. To substantiate my claim at a later time if need be I incorporate by reference all the following documents:

Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay. 1997. Air Pollution and the Chesapeake Bay. WhitePaper of the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay. 16 pp
Boubel, R.W., D. L. Fox, D.B. Turner, and A.C. Stern. 1994. Fundamentals of Air Pollution.Academic Press: San Diego, CA.
Ecological Society of America. 1999. Acid Deposition: the Ecological Response. Paper presented at "Acid Rain Revisited: a Congressional Briefing Co-Sponsored by the Ecological Society of America and the Hubbard Brook Research Foundation."
Mason, R.P., W.F. Fitzgerald, and F.M.M. Morel. 1994. The Biogeochemical Cycling of Elemental Mercury: anthropogenic Influences. Geochim. et Cosmochim. Acta 58(15): 3191-3198.
Mason, R.P., N.M. Lawson and K.A. Sullivan. 1997a. Atmospheric deposition to the Chesapeake Bay Watershed--Regional and Local Sources. Atmospheric Environment 31(21):3531-3540.
Paerl, H.W. 1993. Emerging Role of Atmospheric Nitrogen Deposition in Coastal Eutrophication: Biogeochemical and Trophic Perspectives. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 50:2254-2269.
Perry, J. and E. Vanderklein. 1996. Water Quality: Management of a Natural Resource. Blackwell Science, Inc: Cambridge, MA.
Puckett, L.J. 1994. Nonpoint and point sources of nitrogen i major watersheds of the United States. USGS Water Investigations Report 94-4001. U.S. Geological survey, Reston, Virginia.
Schlesinger, W.H. 1997. Biogeochemistry: An Analysis of Global Change, Academic Press, San Diego, CA.
Seitzinger, S.P. and R.W. Sanders. 1999. Atmospheric inputs of dissolved organic nitrogen stimulate estuarine bacteria and phytoplankton. Limnology and Oceanography 44: 721-730.
Shannon, J.D., and E.C. Voldner. 1995. Modeling Atmospheric Concentrations of Mercury and Deposition to the Great Lakes. Atmospheric Environment 29(14):1649-1661
US Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards. 1997. Deposition of air pollutants to the Great Waters: Second Report to Congress. USEPA: Washington, DC.
US Environmental Protection Agency. 1997. Mercury Study Report to Congress. 181 pp.Vitousek, P.M., J. Aber, R.W. Howarth, G.E. Likens, P.A. Matson, D.W. Schindler, W.H. Schlesinger, and G.D. Tillman. 1997. Human Alteration of the Global Nitrogen Cycle: Causes and Consequences. Issues in Ecology, Number 1, Spring 1997. Ecological Society of America, 15 pp.

In considering my idea, I would like to also raise another issue. I am a disabled individual as determined by Court decree. I have an independent doctor’s analysis that states my earning capacity is reduced by 50% due to my disability. It seems that multiple CDO’s with one hearing are discriminatory against me and others in a like situation and violate the Federal Fair Housing Act.

Block or random CDO’s add up to discriminatory zoning actions against people with disabilities by a public agency. The CDO’s are applied to a zoned population of people, the prohibition zone, with no individual hearings. Public accommodation is limited to one hearing for all parties or blocks of parties in the prohibition zone. One size fits all.

The Federal Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful to utilize land use policies or actions that treat groups of persons with disabilities less favorably than groups of non-disabled persons. Blanket hearings and fines are discriminatory to disabled persons in public assisted housing, on assistance, group homes and persons receiving public assisted elder care because they cause economic hardship, traveling expenses and public facility accommodation hardships without consideration by your office. All these hardships are occurring PRIOR to enforcement hearings. It would be horrible to have the order put disabled people out on the street as an unintended consequence. Don’t you agree?

What I feel would constitute a reasonable accommodation for me would be a case-by-case review of myself and all property owners to be able to identify the personal needs of the handicapped or assisted income homeowners . Each disabled person, like me, living in Los Osos, should be entitled to a individual hearing by your RWQCB board if you use economically crippling CDO’s.

In my case of limited earning capacity, I have figured the cost of making the improvements on my property related to my assessed valuation. They exceed 0.5% of my property evaluation and hence I am requesting any information you may have about financial assistance per Section § 13291.5. PCA. My initial expense will be about $1800.00.

I think by me redefining a better ‘smart pumping’ solution and you redefining a more appropriate order (MVN’s) towards myself and others, we could mutually encourage immediate improvements in Los Osos water quality while conserving water, educating the public, and preserving air quality.

Steve Paige, Los Osos Ca.