Civic Center Sewer Will Come On Line Soon

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The $47 million first phase of the Civic Center Wastewater Treatment Facility project is nearing its final completion after beginning construction in July 2016. The first phase of the project, which is the most expensive infrastructure project in Malibu’s history, will require the commercial properties in the Civic Center area to hook up to a centralized wastewater  treatment facility for the first time.

The city’s official overview of the sewer project describes it as “[the] development of a centralized wastewater treatment facility that will treat, reuse, and/or dispose of wastewater flows from properties in the Civic Center. The project is in response to regulatory actions taken by the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board and the State Water Resources Control Board to prohibit discharges from [septic systems] in the Civic Center area, and to ban new [septic systems], based on a phased schedule.”

The construction, which is being carried out by various contractors, has involved not only building a high-tech wastewater treatment plant in the Civic Center area, but also putting in three injection wells, miles of pipeline and two water pumping stations.

At the April 9 Malibu City Council meeting, Assistant Public Works Director Rob DuBoux gave a presentation to update the city on the progress of the project, but a lot has happened since then.

The main wastewater treatment plant “consists of pumps, controls and equipment. It runs a very complicated and sophisticated [wastewater treatment] process,” he explained. “It has an electrical room with controls and a biological reactor. In addition, purple pipes will pump recycled water to customers and silver tubing is used for the UV disinfection system.”

The main plant is just finishing its start-up phase, with everything running like clockwork. A state-certified wastewater operator is currently running the plant. “He has to make sure it’s all good before we move forward,” DuBoux said. 

“We first started up the plant on April 12, bringing in a total of 30 tank trucks of seed sludge from different treatment plants to start up our biological process with different microorganisms,” he explained. It took until April 16 to finish the deliveries and start the biological processes needed that allow the plant to treat wastewater.

“We’re so close!” DuBoux said. “It’s been very exciting to see this whole process from the beginning until now—it’s incredible. They’re getting everything in place and we should be connecting to Malibu Colony Plaza any day now. After that will be City Hall and then the Lumber Yard.”

There are also other components of the project that needed to be tested, including the three injection wells that were constructed on Malibu Road, behind the Ralph’s shopping center, with the help of a drilling rig. The wells, which are 150 feet deep and inject excess treated wastewater into the ground, have controls located behind the sidewalk on Malibu Road, which are connected to the main wastewater treatment plant.

The final testing of the injection wells’ control system, which can be manual or automatic, has just been completed. “They’re good to go,” DuBoux said.

He said a total of 6.5 miles of pipeline have been laid for the purpose of collecting and recycling wastewater along portions of Civic Center Way, Webb Way and underneath PCH, up to the property lines of all the property owners who need to connect to it.

There are two pumping stations on the system—one located at Legacy Park, with a generator “to make sure it works 24/7 even in the event of a power outage,” DuBoux said. The pump station there is about 20 feet below the ground. A second pumping station at Malibu Bluffs Park “pumps water over the hill to the treatment plant.”

Beginning in early May, the Public Works Department plans to oversee street repaving and/or the filling up of trenches on Malibu Canyon Road, Malibu Road, Cross Creek and Civic Center Way. They will also be overseeing the paving and landscaping of the treatment plant and trash pick-up; purchasing and installing lab equipment for the treatment plant; and making the first lateral sewer connections to City Hall and the Malibu Lumber Yard. 

The project is being paid for by grants from the state Water Resources Control Board, the City of Malibu and an assessment district made up of Civic Center landowners.

Phase I includes commercial properties Malibu Country Mart, Malibu Village, Malibu Colony Plaza and other major commercial properties in the Civic Center area. Phases II and III will include residential and other commercial properties.