County to lay out $266-million water overhaul at Malibu meeting

Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky speaking in 2012 at the Malibu State of the City Address. Yaroslavsky and the county Board of Supervisors in 2011 ordered the county Public Works Department to prepare a long-range development plan to overhaul Waterworks District 29, which brings water to Topanga and most of Malibu. 

County officials are expected to outline the financial and infrastructural details of a $266 million project to overhaul Malibu and Topanga’s ailing water system at the Malibu City Council meeting on Monday.

Monday’s presentation by representatives from Water Works District 29 will be one of the first public discussions of the overhaul since the L.A. County Board of Supervisors ordered the long-range capital improvement plan more than two years ago. 

The engineering study portion of the revamp was completed in December, but the last several months have been spent exploring funding options behind closed doors before bringing the plans forward. Funding mechanisms discussed in the past included bond measures, grant funding and ratepayer hikes, and Monday should provide a more definitive idea of how the overhaul will be paid for. 

Engineers estimated replacing dilapidated pipes and other equipment in Waterworks District 29 would cost $266.5 million. A majority of the costs, $209 million, would go toward overhauling Malibu’s water system. Topanga’s overhaul is estimated at $52 million, with $5.5 million covering “miscellaneous” costs, according to the report.

The study was commissioned by the county Board of Supervisors in May 2011, one year after the fire department enacted what critics call a de facto building moratorium in Malibu when it began enforcing existing requirements that had been disregarded for years, allowing Malibu property owners to build despite strict water flow requirements, as long as they built onsite water tanks to fight fires. 

The Malibu City Council meets Monday at 6:30 p.m. Check back with The Malibu Times this week for full coverage of the meeting.