Enviro Groups Seek Septic MOU Remand to L.A. Water Board
• Allege Document Violates State Law
BY BILL KOENEKER
Santa Monica Baykeeper and Heal the Bay have filed a petition with the State Water Resources Control Board asking it to review the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board's Memorandum of Understanding with the City of Malibu regarding the Malibu Civic Center septic prohibition.
The two environmental groups, both cried howls of protest when the MOU was agreed upon by both the city and the water boards without input from the environmental organizations.
The petitioners are asking the state water board to review the actions of the water board in approving the MOU.
They also want the state board to hold a public hearing to consider "the deficiencies of the Malibu MOU and hold the petition in abeyance" to allow further discussion, negotiation, and public proceedings in relation to the MOU.
"The regional board's action in approving the Malibu MOU…was inappropriate and improper and resulted in violations of state law and regulatory requirements," the petition states.
The enviro groups contend the MOU deviates "substantively from the directives of the septic prohibition" and constitutes an improper and illegal attempt to amend the Basin Plan.
The two groups assert the MOU, because of inconsistency with the septic prohibition, violates the regional board's duty pursuant to the water code.
The petitions go on to state the regional board also failed to conduct the mandatory assessment of significant environmental consequences of the MOU and its resolution.
The groups allege that the regional board failed to provide proper notice and a comment period and as a result the July 14 public hearing violated a section of the water code and the regional board failed to provide the requisite justification for its "substantive and significant changes" to the Basin Plan amendment.
"The Malibu MOU purports to merely provide the frame work for implementation of the prohibitions established in the septic prohibition. In reality, it attempts to significantly change the Basin Plan itself. It extends the ultimate compliance deadline and substantively reviews the phasing for achieving compliance with the septic prohibition. The Malibu MOU also fails to hold the City of Malibu accountable for its non-compliance. The language of the MOU essentially excuses anticipated violations of the Basin Plan requirements by the City of Malibu should the city fail to establish assessment districts to fund the proposed sewer connections. Indeed, the MOU fails to adequately describe how the city will comply should the voters reject the assessment district, a result which is highly likely."
The petitioners also want the state board to overturn the regional board's approval of the MOU, remand the matter to the regional board with specific directions to the LA water board about complying with the water code and Basin Plan in any future agreements with the city.