Sid Karsh's letter offers an opportunity to speak to several issues that are not well understood, at least by Mr. Karsh.
California currently has over 1.2 million septic systems in place and more waiting permits. While many in the regulatory community would like all to be replaced with sewer that is not going to take place any time soon. Regulations for AB 885, the state law governing on site wastewater systems, are being finalized. Those regulations will monitor septic systems, not eliminate them. They will also make the replacement of current systems much more expensive and that in itself is an argument for affordable sewers.
All of the alternative systems that were presented May 5 utilize offsite treatment; nothing goes into the ground. The difference between them and a gravity system is technology. These are small diameter/low pressure sealed systems that are flexible, safer and need to be no deeper than four feet below ground. They all connect directly to treatment facilities, just as gravity system does, but they are more efficient and cost less than half of gravity systems. The state and the EPA approve of these systems and we, as an incorporated city, can amend our ordinance to allow their use, just as the city of Malibu has.
The city is in the process of learning about the systems from the three companies that made presentations on May 5. When the director of public works reports to the council it should move quickly to begin the process of hiring an engineering firm with extensive experience in alternative systems. This is a specialized field and experience will eliminate mistakes in the planning process, thus reducing cost and leading to the formulation of a plan that will draw support from homeowners in District 5. This is a critical step, which will dramatically speed up the process.