Council to go on sewer field trip


The effort is to find a less expensive way to build a sewer in Malibu. The council also considers obtaining certificates of participation up to $5 million to finance the remodel of the new city hall.

By Olivia Damavandi / Assistant Editor

The Malibu City Council is planning a field trip to find answers to the wastewater quandary it faces as a result of a threatened septic system ban and the demand to build a wastewater treatment facility in the city’s center.

During its quarterly review meeting last week Wednesday, the council voted to organize a trip to learn more about a revolutionary type of wastewater treatment plant located in Victorville. The plant could be the answer to the ban of septic systems in the Civic Center area by the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board, which claims they are the major cause of the pollution in Malibu’s watershed.

“I would really, really hope that all those interested in this subject would join us on our field trip to see how it works,” Mayor Sharon Barovsky, who recommended the trip, said Tuesday in a phone interview.

With the regional board’s plan, the city projects that 425 residential parcels would have to pay between $400 and $500 per month, and 45 business parcels would have to pay between $6,800 and $17,000 per month to help finance an estimated $52 million centralized wastewater treatment facility capable of treating 600,000 gallons per day.

Manufactured by MicroMedia Filtration, Inc., the wastewater treatment plant that is being investigated by the city can be installed on one-tenth the footprint, for about one-half to one-third the cost of a conventional sewer. In addition, it consumes less than one-fifth the electricity and can convert some of the waste into usable energy.

City Manager Jim Thorsen on Tuesday praised the environmental benefits of the MMF plant, but said the price of implementing it might not in actuality save the city a half or a third the cost of implementing a conventional sewer because it would not include the high cost of necessary components such as piping.

For example, Thorsen said, the MMF plant could reduce a conventional $40 million sewer to $35 million or $30 million.

“If this is a good option for us, it may become our forefront design,? Thorsen said.

Should the MMF plant turn out not to be a suitable solution, the city can still fall back on its current alternative plan in which 110 residential parcels would be charged $400 to $500 per month, and 25 business parcels would be charged $6,800 to $17,000 per month to help finance a smaller $30.8 million centralized wastewater treatment facility that would handle up to 240,000 gallons per day and could be constructed in phases.

The first phase would involve installing a wastewater treatment system (capable of treating 190,000 gallons per day) for the central core of the Civic Center area where the commercial properties and the highest potential users of a new wastewater treatment system are located. These properties also are in close proximity to Malibu Creek.

The second phase would expand the wastewater treatment system (adding 50,000 gallons per day) to include homes in Serra Retreat, where the city states residential properties have a potential to impact water quality in Malibu Creek. Thorsen on Tuesday said the first two phases of the city’s alternate plan are based upon boundary limits that include commercial and residential properties that contribute to Malibu Creek groundwater.

In addition, Malibu Colony homes and two commercial zones along the east side of Malibu Creek and adjacent to Pacific Coast Highway would be required by city ordinance to install disinfection treatments to their existing septic systems.

Options to finance city hall remodel explored

With the current remodel plan of the new city hall estimated at $3.7 million, the council is exploring the option of financing the project through the obtainment of certificates of participation not to exceed $5 million.

The council voted to direct city staff and investment banking firm Stone & Youngberg to prepare official documents to facilitate the transaction, which the council will vote for or against at an undetermined date. Preparation of the documents had no fiscal impact on the city’s budget, Assistant City Manager Reva Feldman said Tuesday in a phone interview.

The city’s Administration and Finance Committee recommended that the council issue $5 million because the cost of the remodel could increase once the final plans for the theater are developed.

The AFC in a city report claims that the process of obtaining the COPs at this time will be relatively uncomplicated because the city recently issued COPs to acquire the new city hall, known to many as the Malibu Performing Arts Center.

The success of the purchase gave the City of Malibu an AA+ bond rating-the highest possible rank-which it currently holds.

The preliminary estimate includes the majority of the interior improvements in the conceptual designs and minimal exterior improvements. A final estimate is expected to be presented to council in March, which will include all interior costs as well as the costs for the renovations of the theater.

Other features of the building will include a 1,300-square-foot senior center, a 1,300-square-foot multi-purpose room, and a 140-square-foot office for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and a 475-square-foot meeting room. The teen center, which had earlier been proposed for this building, is slated to go into the current city hall building, located adjacent to the new facility.