Pepperdine denies ‘illegal dumping of wastewater’

As you are well aware, the Regional Water Quality Control Board is considering the 5-year renewal of the National Pollutants Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) and the Wastewater Recycling Requirement (WRR) permits for the County of Los Angeles’ Malibu Mesa Wastewater Reclamation Plant on Tuesday, Oct. 12. Understandably, both the city and the press are focused on these permit renewals and how Pepperdine stores and recycles treated wastewater subject to these permits. Unfortunately, a considerable amount of misinformation has been circulated about Pepperdine’s system and the pending permit review.

To be clear, Pepperdine University does not participate in the “illegal dumping of wastewater.” The two permits before the Regional Water Quality Control Board have each been in place for a number of years, ensuring that the university’s system for storing, recycling and treating wastewater in conjunction with the county is subject to regulation. The items in front of the board are for the regular renewal and review of the permits. Neither the County of Los Angeles nor Pepperdine University is requesting any amendments to either permit to allow for additional treated water to be discharged. It should be noted that the County of Los Angeles is permitee on both the WRR and NPDES permits while Pepperdine University is co-permittee on the WRR permit only. Pepperdine does not have a pipe, valve, or any other way to directly discharge wastewater to Marie Canyon. Neither Pepperdine nor the County “discharges untreated sewage” into the canyons or into the ocean.

In addition, Pepperdine University has for many years pursuant to Coastal Commission and County permits operated a highly sophisticated Hydrogeologic Monitoring Program (HMP) which ensures, among other things, that irrigation practices at Pepperdine do not negatively impact slope stability off-site. As part of the HMP, Pepperdine uses state-of-the-art monitoring technology which includes (but is not limited to) numerous campus ground water monitoring wells, soil moisture casings, off-site weather stations and an advanced computerized remote control irrigation system to monitor and record rainfall measurements, reclaimed water distribution, irrigation meter date, soil moisture content, groundwater levels and storm drain outflow, all for the purpose of ensuring that Pepperdine’s irrigation water does not deep percolate. Yearly monitoring reports are provided to the City, County and Coastal Commission.

We believe that the University’s treatment and monitoring system, which also serves to process wastewater from our neighbors, Malibu Country Estates, is an environmentally sound alternative to septic treatment of wastewater. We believe that anyone who would like to take the time to learn firsthand about the system would agree.

Pepperdine University along with the County of Los Angeles are poised to host an information session of the Malibu Mesa plant and the Pepperdine University storage reservoirs which would allow interested parties to understand firsthand how the system works. The University would like to provide this opportunity to introduce factual information in light of the recent misinformation that has circulated throughout the public. The University proposes to conduct this information session as soon as possible before the Regional Water Control Board Hearing on Oct. 12.

Thank you for your time and willingness to understand the facts behind the renewal of the Malibu Mesa Plant. We look forward to working with you and City staff on these and other issues.

Kelly M. Ray

Director of Regulatory Affairs

The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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