Malibuitie looks at Pepperdine’s dumping

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    I wish to call attention to a grave problem that has plagued Malibu for some time, and is about to be exacerbated.

    As partial background, there was a page-one article from the Los Angeles Times (1/27/2000) titled “Developers Must Curb Runoff, Board Says.” According to the article, the Los Angeles Regional Water Control Board, an agency of the state of California, must examine and approve of any new plans for developers which may increase water runoff that fouls ocean waters.

    The problem of beach and ocean pollution has become so acute that the City of Malibu now mandates that residential construction on beachfront property include waste water treatment so thorough that the end-product is potable.

    And yet, the Water Quality Control Board is on the verge of permitting Pepperdine University to dump an additional 250,000 gallons of treated effluent per day into Marie Canyon and Puerco Canyon, which would, in turn, drain into the creeks, onto the contiguous beaches, and into the ocean. Needless to say, this waste-water contains animal droppings, harmful chemicals, and gasoline, oil, and tar from Pacific Coast Highway and other roads.

    As further background, the residents of Malibu Road, for many years, have had ongoing disputes with Pepperdine about the irresponsible dumping of their sewage–to no avail because of Pepperdine’s money and subsequent-political clout. For example, in order to facilitate campus expansion, Pepperdine was recently given permission by the California Coastal Commission, to move 4.5 million cubic yards of dirt in an environmentally sensitive section of the Santa Monica Mountains, bordering on the National Recreation Area. This permission was granted despite a firm and very specific recommendation by the Commission’s own staff, that Pepperdine’s request should be denied. Significantly, commission members who might have voted against the permit, were not even notified of the hearing. Of interest, for the sake of scale, the volume of the Great Pyramid of Giza is about 3 million cubic yards. Even Hoover Dam is smaller than the Pepperdine project, at 4.3 million cubic yards.

    It is a matter of record that the existing holding-lakes become filled beyond their capacity during the rainy season. One question that nobody seems interested in asking is–if Pepperdine can afford to move 4.5 million cubic yards of earth, and buy the political influence represented in the above-mentioned example, why can they not afford to provide additional adequate, non-environmentally harmful disposal of their waste–the production of which continually increases with the growth of the school?

    The answer is, I submit, that they can, but they will not unless they are forced to do so. And since the County of Los Angeles seems unwilling to act, that would appear to leave it in the hands of the state. This matter will come to a vote before the California Regional Water Quality Control Board, which will meet next Thursday. Aug. 31 at 9 a.m. at the Richard H. Chambers Room of the U.S. Court of Appeals Building, I25 So. Grand Ave., Pasadena.

    If past history is any prediction of the future, there will be at least two bus loads of Pepperdine students at the meeting in Pasadena, most of whom are not citizens of Malibu.

    This meeting is open to the public. It is critical that we halt this potential threat to our precious beaches and ocean. If anyone is interested in going to the Pasadena meeting with a group of Malibuites, please phone 317-2199.

    Hubert J. Rubenstein M.D.