Malibu Septics: Round Two

Tonight, the Malibu City Council will vote to approve a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the city and the state to move the civic center’s wastewater management into the 21st century. Malibu fought to become a city when L.A. County tried to jam a massive sewage treatment plan in pristine Corral Canyon down their throat. For the last two decades, the tradition of fighting for septics over sewers has been a city obsession.

The MOU vote tonight will greatly weaken the Regional Water Board’s order prohibiting land disposal of sewage (leach fields) by 2015 in commercial areas and 2019 in the civic center’s residential areas. Since the State Water Board upheld the Regional Board’s order last December, Malibu and the Regional Board have been meeting regularly to weaken it.

Malibu opposed the original order, but they didn’t sue over it because the State Board was willing to modify its terms. One of the order’s big issues was the inclusion of residential areas like Malibu Knolls and Sweetwater Mesa, which likely had no water quality impacts on the highly polluted Malibu Lagoon and Surfrider Beach. If those were the only changes, then a simple MOU modifying the order would have been universally supported. But this is Malibu, so nothing is ever simple.

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