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Malibu Knolls residents may face pump station costs

Chris Bashaw, Assistant Editor
4:11 pm PST March 3, 2014

Members of the city of Malibu’s Wastewater Advisory Committee convened on Thursday, Feb. 27, to discuss the costs that some residents living in the Malibu Knolls could face when connecting to the Wastewater Transfer Facility.

“The costs are preliminary and it’s still undetermined if homeowners will have to pay for them by themselves,” Andrew Sheldon, the city’s environmental health administrator, said.

While the majority of homes in the Malibu Civic Center area that will be required to hook up to the transfer facility can “gravity-flow” sewage to the facility, 10 to 15 percent of homeowners in the Malibu Knolls – and any others in situations where homes are located at lower elevations than the street – will be required to install pumping systems to transfer wastewater to the city’s main sewage line.

The costs discussed at the meeting were ballpark estimates, but depending upon the elevations from the home to the street, the existing terrain and the types of labor to be utilized, Norm Haynie – chair of the WAC – said the committee determined that affected homeowners could pay between $15,000 and $35,000 to purchase and install pumping stations.

“It’s very preliminary at this point,” Haynie said. “The primary reason for the discussion is that it can be done and this is a level of cost that people will be looking at.”

The pumps themselves will cost homeowners between $6,500 and $7,500, depending upon how much power is required to lift their sewage to the main sewer line. Other factors that could increase costs include labor, alarms for the dual-pump systems that alert the homeowner if one of the pumps needs maintenance, as well as how much reserve water is available to the home in the event of an emergency.

In most cases, Haynie said, the age of certain homes in the Malibu Knolls means that their septic tanks are not suitable to house a pumping station. Because of the ban on septic systems imposed on the City of Malibu by the Regional Water Quality Control Board, however, the installation of new tanks is also subject to the ban.

If a septic tank is unfit to house a pumping station, homeowners will be required to decommission it – potentially tacking on additional costs.

“There isn’t one concise answer,” said Rebecca Nelson, senior office assistant of environmental programs. “Every property owner’s cost will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.”