On Thursday, the Regional Water Board unanimously approved a resolution requiring Board staff to negotiate a new memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Malibu for permitting on-site wastewater treatment systems (OWTS, or septic systems). In addition, staff was ordered to move forward on an OWTS moratorium for the Malibu Civic Center area. Both of these actions must come back to the Board within one year.
The Board and staff are to be commended for moving forward on this critical measure. Also, props to Malibu for playing nice today. Mayor Pam Conley Ulich set the tone in her testimony. Malibu supported the resolution, thereby avoiding a potentially contentious situation.
So why aren’t I happy?
Is it because of a psychological disorder that makes me always look at the glass as bone dry? Maybe, but I really think that I’ll remain doubtful of success until I see Malibu sign-on to a legally binding agreement that commits them to building a water recycling plant in the Civic Center by a date certain in the not too distant future: preferably 2011 as promised. I’ve seen too many promises made and not kept and great projects and ordinances passed with no commensurate improvements in the miserable water quality in Malibu Lagoon and at Surfrider Beach.
After 20 years of working on this issue, I’ve earned the right to be cynical. Heal the Bay will continue to work closely with the city until we get it right. And getting it right means that Surfrider will be safe for surfing and Malibu Lagoon will be safe and healthy for aquatic life.