City Hears Request for Second Extension of Sewer Project

Phase one of the Wastewater Treatment Facility project includes sewer service to 57 parcels in the Malibu Civic Center, including City-owned properties and undeveloped land.

Two years after negotiating the first extension on the state-mandated Civic Center Wastewater Treatment Facility, Malibu City Council is preparing to go back before the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board to ask for more time.

Ground was broken on the $60 million wastewater project in the summer of 2016, with environmentalists applauding the project they believe will improve water quality in the Malibu Lagoon and other areas of the watershed. City council members spoke in support of the project, though they acknowledged the idea of the sewer was once despised.

In an item on the Jan. 11 city council agenda, the city is asking for a delay in the timeline that will grant an additional year for the completion of Phase One of the multistep project — and exponentially more to the phases that will follow.

“The city anticipates that the construction of the facility will be completed early in 2018,” reads a staff report for the meeting. “Properties within the district will thereafter be systematically connected with all properties connected no later than September 2018.”

The original timeline, settled when the state enacted the septic ban in the Malibu Civic Center in 2010, would have had Phase One — encompassing primarily commercial real estate parcels — completed by 2015, and Phase Two — encompassing residential neighborhoods including Serra Retreat — completed by 2019.

In 2014, that was pushed back to 2017 and 2022, respectively. 

Now, Phase Two could have until November 2024 for completion.

In 2014, several Serra residents came out to implore the city allow water testing in the area to see whether the sewer really did improve water quality. Though discussed at the public meeting, the idea has not been officially undertaken — and a Serra resident who didn’t wish to be named said it is likely dead in the water, due to an increase in standards over the past couple of years that seemingly made the Civic Center Sewer the only possible solution.

Regardless, Serra Retreat residents and other residents living nearby the Civic Center would have an additional year or two to decide whether or not to pay and join the sewer — of course, the alternative is to stop using septic tanks, which is clearly not an alternative for them.

The revised memorandum of understanding, with the proposed timeline extensions, is scheduled to go before the regional board on Feb. 2, 2017.