Council approves plan to build treatment facilities in Civic Center area

The controversial plan to build multimillion dollar wastewater treatment facilities in the Civic Center area has been given the go-ahead by the Malibu City Council. The council voted 4-1 to approve a Memorandum of Understanding between the City of Malibu and the regional and state water boards at its regular meeting Monday night, despite outcry from residents and environmental groups that the public had not been given sufficient notice of the plan. The MOU stipulates that wastewater treatment facilities be built in the Civic Center area in 2015, 2019 and possibly 2025.

Brokered over nine months of negotiation between Malibu City Manager Jim Thorsen and Sam Unger of the regional water board, the plan encountered strong resistance, both from environmental groups who said the requirements were too little, and residents who said the plan was too stringent. Both sides, as well as Councilmember Pamela Conley Ulich, who voted against the MOU, said the public had not been given sufficient notification of the specifics of the plan. City officials posted the plan last Wednesday, giving stakeholders four business days to study it before the council voted on it.

The three-phase plan begins with primarily commercial properties in the Civic Center area. Phase 1 stipulates that a centralized wastewater treatment facility be built by November 2015. The facility is projected to cost anywhere from $32 to $52 million, and would be paid for by an assessment district comprised of commercial and residential property owners. In Phase 2, a number of residential areas, including those in Serra Canyon, Malibu Colony and condo complexes along Civic Center Way, would have to hook up to another centralized wastewater treatment facility that would be paid for by an assessment district.

The MOU seeks to resolve a standoff between the city and the regional and state water boards. In November 2009 the regional water board instituted a prohibition on septic systems in the Civic Center and central area of Malibu. The ban was approved and ratified in September 2010 by the state water board.

The MOU approved by the council also includes a third phase which was not part of the original requirements set forth by the regional and state water boards. The properties included in Phase 3 are Malibu Road, the Knolls residential area, HRL Laboratories, Our Lady of Malibu Church and School, Malibu Presbyterian Church and several residential and commercial properties on the east side of Sweetwater Mesa.

Construction of a centralized wastewater treatment facility for those areas is contingent on future water quality studies. If bacteria and nitrogen levels are found to be reduced in the Malibu Lagoon following the construction of the Phase 1 and Phase 2 wastewater treatment facilities, then the areas in Phase 3 will also have to form an assessment district to fund their own centralized wastewater treatment facility. If, however, the studies show that water quality in the Lagoon has not been improved by the Phase 1 and Phase 2 treatment facilities, the areas in Phase 3 will not have to fund their own treatment facility.

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Check The Malibu Times print edition on Thursday for more in-depth coverage of this issue.

13StarsManager
https://malibutimes.com
The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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