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.

15 Comments:

Blogger Mike Green said...

bravo!

6:32 PM, April 04, 2006  
Anonymous Dogpatch Refugee said...

But where is the swift & brutal part??
Good job Steve!

10:31 AM, April 05, 2006  
Blogger Spectator said...

Absolute excellence! Your brain is definitely not disabled.

12:22 PM, April 08, 2006  
Blogger Spectator said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:22 PM, April 08, 2006  
Blogger Churadogs said...

Steve's excellent posting illuminates just how ill-thought-out the RWQCB's CDOs "mad pumping scheme" is. And how ill-prepared the staff is. When I asked at the informational hearing, what perameters of allowable discharge would be if somebody were looking into of various "on site" alternatives, you know, a set of discharge nitrate numbers that any system would have to meet to be acceptable so people could check in advance to see whatever alternative they were interested in would be within range, and I was told by the official, science, technical staff guys, "Oh, gee, uh, we don't have that information. I guess we should work up some numbers."

One month (at that point) before a community-wide CDO hearing that officially offered the option of "alternative proposals" and the staff did not have or know acceptable discharge numbers. That simply defies credulity.

Nor did they announce at the informational hearing that anyone proposing an alternative would have to pay a $900 a year discharge permit fee. That piece of info came after the meeting from the same official technical staff members, which would financially make almost any alternative to their mad pumping scheme unaffordable when added to the cost of installying some systems.

Now, here's Steve with various violations of federal acts and laws. (How they expected a disable person with no car who works to get to Aerovista place between 9 & 5 to read through the BOXES of documents (none put on line) is beyond me.)

No, some of the issues Steve brings up point to the sloppy way this whole thing was prepared, not only hasty beyond belief, but sloppy, unscientific, poorly thought out and, ultimately, pointless and wasteful of resources and resulting in lousy results. Very little bang for the bucks. It's like they really don't care about clean water, but sure do care about making as many Los Osos miserable with no good result in mind except "policial" ones, which for a regulatory agency is a huge No-No.

Wierdy still, do they not know that they're heading into very, very dangerous waters. When this gets to court, Resolution 83=12 & 13 will have to come under scrutiny since that's the ruling document and when it comes under the scientific gun, it simply won't be able to stand up to scrutiny. (Paige's info on the nitrogen dumping from the powerplant was, to my knowledge, never in the "scientific" documents used to make a finding of 83-12-13. In fact, there's a whole lot of science that never made it into 83=12-13. Does the RWQCB really understand what can of worms they're opening??? )

What they're doing is bizarre beyond belief and a perfect example of a regulatory agency that's run amok. Unfortunately, their clone, the SWB, has equally seemed to have lost their marbles, too.

5:44 AM, April 09, 2006  
Blogger Steve Paige said...

The real irony is that we have to protect the enviorment from the RWQCB. I will be requesting through the Freedom of Information Act documents that 'show adoption'of Chapter 5.8 "Minor Violations" of the Porter Cologne Act(PCA)as directed by the State Legislature for district three. I am curious if any work has been done by RWQCB-3 legal staff. Clearly our individual discharges meet these standards. If you have a chance read § 13399 in the PCA.

---The Directive----

§ 13399. Legislative findings
(a) The Legislature hereby finds and declares that the
purpose of this chapter is to establish an enforcement
policy for violations of this division that the enforcement
agency finds are minor when the danger they pose to, or
the potential that they have for endangering, human
health, safety, or welfare or the environment are taken
into account.

----The Standards for Minor Violations-----

(1) The magnitude of the violation.
(2) The scope of the violation.
(3) The severity of the violation.
(4) The degree to which a violation puts human health,
safety, or welfare or the environment into jeopardy.
(5) The degree to which a violation could contribute to
the failure to accomplish an important goal or program
objective as established by this division.
(6) The degree to which a violation may make it difficult
to determine if the violator is in compliance with other
requirements of this division.
(f) For purposes of this chapter, a minor violation of this
division shall not include any of the following:
(1) Any knowing, willful, or intentional violation of this
division.
(2) Any violation of this division that enables the violator
to benefit economically from noncompliance, either by
realizing reduced costs or by gaining a competitive
advantage.
(3) Any violation that is a chronic violation or that is
committed by a recalcitrant violator.

----"The state board and each regional board shall implement this chapter"----

(g) In determining whether a violation is chronic or a
violator is recalcitrant, for purposes of paragraph (3) of
subdivision (f), the state board or regional board shall
consider whether there is evidence indicating that the
violator has engaged in a pattern of neglect or disregard
with respect to the requirements of this division or the
requirements adopted pursuant to this division.
(d) The state board and each regional board shall
implement this chapter by determining the types of
violations of this division, or of the regulations, rules,
standards, orders, permit conditions, or other
requirements adopted pursuant to this division that the
state board or the regional board finds are minor
violations in accordance with subdivisions (e) and (f). The
state board shall implement this chapter through adoption
of regulations or state policy for water quality control
pursuant to Article 3 (commencing with Section 13140)
of Chapter 3.

Thanks for your generous comments everybody......

7:34 AM, April 09, 2006  
Blogger Steve Paige said...

HERE'S THE FINE PRINT ON CEQA EXEMPTIONS, IN MY MIND THE RWQCB IS WEAK HERE, WHY WOULD THEY CHOOSE TO OVERDRAFT THE BASIN AND PUT OUT 600 TONS OF DIESEL NOX PER YEAR TO REMOVE A PITANCE OF NITRATES? --------

Discussion:
This section clarifies the scope of the exemption provided by certification under Section 21080.5. The exemption applies only to Chapter 3 of CEQA, the chapter which requires state agencies to prepare EIRs and Negative Declarations. Other provisions of CEQA continue to apply to a certified program where relevant.

-----COURT RULINGS------

In EPIC v. Johnson, (1985) 170 Cal. App. 3d 604, the court held that PRC Section 21080.5 provided a limited exemption from CEQA and that the Forest Practices Act (FPA) and administrative rules though exempt from Chapter 3 of CEQA, remained subject to the other policies of CEQA such as avoiding significant environmental effects. The court added that exemptions specified in the statute precluded additional exemptions from being implied or presumed absent specific legislative intent.

The court in EPIC v. Johnson further held that under certified regulatory exempt programs state agencies must consult with trustee agencies even though they are exempt from the need to prepare an EIR. The exemption for the certified state regulatory programs is not a blanket exemption from CEQA as the agency must still comply with CEQA's policies, evaluation criteria and standards.

----THEIR EXEMPTION----

15251. List of Certified Programs:

(g) The Water Quality Control (Basin)/208 Planning Program of the State Water Resources Control Board and the Regional Water Quality Control Boards.

8:02 AM, April 09, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If everyone is so steamed up about the actions of the RWQCB and the SWB, why not work to change the members?? ;-)

10:12 AM, April 11, 2006  
Blogger Spectator said...

Hey Steve, have you heard anything from the CCRWQCB? They put out a 19 page .pdf answering questions on the CDOS. Documented with legal cases.

1:21 PM, April 21, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is this 19 page .pdf answering questions on the CDOs. Documented with legal cases ....... (and 8 by 10 glossy photos with handwritten notes on the back no doubt) available online? Where can I read or acquire a copy of such? TIA.

PS - Thanks Steve, this was probably the sanest (and best prepared) sewer-related statement I've read in the 3+ years I've been following this issue. Well done.

10:12 AM, April 24, 2006  
Blogger Spectator said...

I saw you at the CCRWQCB meeting. Apparently you have never received a response to your letter and plans. Rediculous! At least they could have sent you a letter stating that your ideas were counterproductive to the basin plan! I guess that they figure that "individual responsibility" is counterproductive to "general good".

If it was not for the current LOCSD and the obstructionists against any sewer system over the years, you would not have had to spend the countless hours in designing a system to reflect "individual responsibility". We could have had a sewer for $110 a month.

We have a total breakdown in government: Locsd stopping construction with no site, no plan, and now no money. Idiot lawyers proposing a proposition that would obstruct the law. And now your ideas are not looked at or replied to. Just throw your time and effort away on top of the $50,000 now down the drain for each property owner. So continue to be a criminal, just like me. For seven years we were on the way to compliance, even though the obstructionist suits continued, and lost in court. The costs continued to increase. But we had no individual fines etc. Take a look at what you have lost in your property value. I can see no way that moving the sewer has been worth it. There is no perfect plan that will make everyone happy, and I seriously doubt that any resolution will not cost each property owner in the PZ less than $350 a month at this point. If they cannot afford it, they will have to sell and move away, and they will be selling at very reduced prices. Sorry for us both.

9:50 PM, April 29, 2006  
Blogger Steve Paige said...

Hi Spectator,

As I see it, the TRI-W plant was doomed because it was not how much diesel was going to cost to truck the sludge to Santa Maria but but availability of fuel. We are entering the downslope of global peak oil while at the same time doubling the user base with China and India. I would expect over 100 dollars a barrel by Christmas with shortages for heating oil next winter. Are you watching the news? This is just the beginning.

I'm not worried about the RWQCB and their lack of response because they let it go over 30 days and that spells automatic approval by Cal Gov.-65943 (a). Both the County and the RWQCB dropped the ball on my proposal. I still really want to work with Harvey Packard on my project and volentarily get something done, eliminating a need for a CDO on my property. They are supposed to be implementing their MOU NOW, not waiting for the new State Septic requirments.

With my plan, two 5000 gallon LPG powered water trucks could ship all the high TN waste per year with an average of .5 trips per day. Ergo no diesel particulate pollution and 1/10 the greenhouse gasses.

The huge rush to build the TRI-W was for the State Board to get it in under the wire to avoid new 'Sustainability' legislation and financial assistance requirements for homeowners built into PCA law.

I didn't vote for measure B, It was too fuzzy, I figured TRI-W would self destruct on sustainability issues and SC Article 13D (Prop 218). I would love to meet with you personally sometime and other dreamers to show you how dire the energy picture is and how we can design something that covers our future energy 'butts', if you get the jist. Sometimes there are blessings in disguise.

Thanks for your comments. Stay positive! We are all in this together.

Steve

10:15 AM, May 01, 2006  
Blogger Spectator said...

Steve:

I am totally positive about a sewer. I realize that it is far better for us all to do this together, than do it alone.

I simply cannot trust the LOCSD to do it! That is why I am for dissolution and fiscal responsibility! Then there is the question of money and property owner debt. Unlike you, people do not want to pay.

So you are going to put in your system, do the right thing, spend you own money, and then be forced to hook up to a sewer or be indebted for one anyhow. Brave guy! At least you put your money where your mouth is! I salute you.

Dire energy picture? There is plenty of oil, but a shortage of refinery capacity, and some stupid law preventing Californians from importing diesel fuel and gasoline. When the trucks use LPG, their fuel costs will go up, but their engines will last twice as long. Or they could use bio diesel, clean burning!

Eventually we will build more nuke plants for more electricity and convert seawater to hydrogen to run our vehicles. But this will be fought by the same people who have contributed to our lack of refining capacity for years. NIMBY crowd. Lots like the move the sewer group.

5:26 AM, May 02, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nuclear power:

These same NIMBY people oppose a permanent national storage facility or reprocessing.

At the same time, they oppose any method to transport spent fuel or temporarily store spent fuel. Regardless, spent fuel is here and will continue to be here, but they obfuscate the need for a permanent facility and by doing so they encourage doing nothing about it long term, except for advocating windmills and solar panels (which are great to supplement national needs) which cannot meet the national demand for energy usage.

China & India in 25 years have the increased their capacity to generate nuclear energy and have more control of world oil stocks, then people in the US will realize too late that they have ceded economic advantages that this country enjoyed for the last 50 years.

5:23 PM, May 07, 2006  
Blogger Mike Green said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6:21 PM, September 19, 2006  

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