Three possible sites listed for wastewater facility

A public workshop regarding the placement of a wastewater treatment facility took place Thursday. Engineers list possible locations, take suggestions from the public.

By Kevin Connelly/Special to The Malibu Times

Not taking into account any of the political issues surrounding the project, Questa Engineering, the company enlisted to determine the best place to install a wastewater facility in Malibu, listed the three most environmentally suitable locations for such a site: the Chili Cook-Off property; a combination of the Chili Cook-Off and Yamaguchi properties, as well as a combination of the Chili Cook-Off and Wave properties.

The update of Questa’s progress in determining a location was made Feb. 10 at a workshop at city council chambers by Questa Project Engineer Norm Hantzsche and Senior Project Manager Bruce Douglas.

The Chili Cook-Off property (available to the city for $25 million) is a 22-acre property along Pacific Coast Highway located between Cross Creek Road and Webb Way, while the Yamaguchi property ($20 million) is two separate sites totaling 17 acres located in the Civic Center. The Wave property ($11 million) is a 9.2 acre site located off Civic Center Way.

There has been much debate thus far as to whether the city should use the Chili Cook-Off property for a wastewater treatment facility at all. Steve Uhring and Ozzie Silna of the Malibu Coastal Land Conservancy have said they do not want a wastewater facility there for aesthetic reasons. They say they would rather see wetlands on the property.

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Regardless, if the city buys the Chili Cook-Off site, it cannot build anything but a wastewater facility there. The Malibu Bay Co., which owns the property, has stipulated this as a non-negotiable sales term. The Bay Co. would also be allowed to hook up all of its properties to a wastewater facility built there under the proposed deal.

The workshop last week was the second meeting conducted by Santa Barbara-based Questa, which initiated its study in November. In March, Questa will issue a draft report and its final report will be made available to the public in April. In this report, Questa will recommend a specific location for the wastewater project.

Questa devoted half the time at the meeting to a visual presentation, while during the other half, the few in attendance were given the opportunity to comment.

“We have no conclusions or recommendations yet,” Hantzsche said. “Our objective is to get an evaluation of the needs and the options in the city of Malibu. Public involvement is very important because it gives [Questa] on-ground, first-hand perspectives.”

Douglas assured the few in the attendance that once a wastewater facility was implemented, it would meet the stringent re-use standards of Title 22. “Reclaimed water is very safe,” he said. “It is suitable for all irrigation uses, toilet flushing and even laundry.”

Some in attendance questioned whether being in close proximity to this water on a daily basis could become harmful over time, but Douglas assured them that this is not the case. The reclaimed water cannot be ingested, but is otherwise safe.

A few at the meeting were concerned with where the reclaimed water would be used. Private planning consultant Norm Haynie suggested the water could be used to irrigate Bluffs Park, which he claimed was currently being irrigated with potable water. MCLC member Silna agreed with this notion.

It was also suggested that the water could be used to irrigate landscaping projects on some of the city’s medians and roadsides. Hantzsche and Douglas agreed, saying that they thought some of the medians looked shabby in the aerial photos they have seen of the city.

Malibu resident Dusty Peak ended the public forum attacking a wastewater system that he said would give private residences the opportunity for on-site treatment. “The best city ordinance that Malibu has is that everyone must treat their own sewage,” he said. “It is a linchpin of the community.”

Taxpayers for Livable Communities member Jay Liebig elaborated. “New properties [in Malibu will have] on-site wastewater treatment, giving them a license to develop,” Liebig said.

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