Victory! Malibu Opens Wastewater Treatment Facility
Heal the Bay is celebrating a major victory in the hard-fought fight to clean up chronically polluted beaches in Malibu — the opening of the Malibu Civic Center Treatment Facility.
Malibu is one of the most breathtaking and desirable places to live in Southern California, but it has held a dirty little secret – septic systems in and around its cultural center have fouled nearby coastal waters for decades.
Malibu Creek, Malibu Lagoon, and the surrounding ocean, including Surfrider Beach, are critically polluted and numerous studies point to septic systems as a major contributor. Swimmers who recreate in these waters run the risk of all kinds of illnesses.
But today Heal the Bay staff and members celebrated an important milestone in what has been a long and protracted fight to reduce water pollution in Malibu – completion of the Civic Wastewater Treatment Facility.
It was all smiles at a ribbon-cutting Friday, but the battle to get the treatment center built was fraught with tension and even some rancor over the past two decades.
For more than 15 years, Heal the Bay has called for the Malibu Civic Center’s septic systems to be replaced by a centralized wastewater treatment facility. It has been a long and bumpy road, with officials complaining about costs and some residents worried about the specter of development if sewers are put in. But our advocacy has now yielded tangible results.
The Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board adopted a Septic Prohibition in 2009 that required the phasing out by 2019 of all septic systems in the Malibu Civic Center Area (think Malibu Pier, Pepperdine, Malibu Bluffs Park). And in 2015 the Malibu City Council unanimously certified the Civic Center Wastewater Treatment Facility Final Environmental Impact Report and later secured funding for the facility.
Malibu City Councilmembers, along with Heal the Bay staff and members of the California State and Regional Water Control Boards, were all in attendance last Friday to cut the ribbon on the new facility.
It was especially gratifying to see Mark Gold, past Heal the Bay president and current board member, in attendance. Amid often fierce opposition from city officials and some Malibu property owners, Gold led the charge to demand an end to septic tanks in the Civic Center area for many years. He helped broker an MOU between the city and the regional water board that phased out septic tanks and mandated the building of a more modern treatment facility. (You can read more about his war wounds in one of his blog posts here.)
The wastewater treatment site is located at the intersection of Civic Center Way and Vista Pacifica. The facility will treat wastewater from properties in and around the Civic Center, and use the recycled water produced by the facility for irrigation of local parks and landscaping.
With a snip of the giant scisssors, history was made and Malibu ocean-users can now breathe a sigh of relief. Thanks to all our donors and advocates who helped Malibu officials do the right thing!