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Malibu asks regional water board to rethink moratorium on septic systems

April 7, 2010 |  9:06 am

Malibu has asked the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board to reconsider its Nov. 5 decision to prohibit septic systems in the coastal city's civic center area, saying the ban's broad scope makes it technically unfeasible.

After years of tussling with the city over water quality, the board adopted a septic prohibition encompassing about 550 residences and businesses. The ban awaits approval by the State Water Resources Control Board.

"The current plan leaves the city with a whole lot of treated water and nowhere to put it," City Manager Jim Thorsen said Tuesday in a statement.

Complying with the regional water board's resolution, he said, would require the city to install an "ocean outfall" or to discharge treated water into the Malibu Creek aquifer. Either approach, he added, would face staunch opposition.

The city said recent scientific studies support the city's conclusion that civic center septic systems, governed by strict rules regulating new systems, are not a significant source of groundwater contamination or a significant cause of reduced water quality in the ocean or Malibu Creek.

The city said it advocates a "community-based" wastewater treatment solution that would focus on homes and businesses closest to Malibu Creek.

Mark Gold, president of Heal the Bay, said his group opposed Malibu's proposals to "voluntarily clean up their act."

"Enough is enough," he said. "Their cleanup actions must be legally required and include a moratorium with deadlines."

-- Martha Groves

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