Last night, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held a forum to communicate to the public it’s thoughts on the proposed new standards to cover output from LVMWD’s waste treatment facility. The 2.5 hour meeting was conducted by the U.S. EPA, with some assistance from the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board (LARWQCB). Las Virgenes Municipal Water District (LVMWD) was allowed to present, as was Heal the Bay, Ventura County and Los Angeles County. LVMWD projects a building cost of $8150 per customer, or $78 per bill for 30 years.

After the EPA and LARWQCB made their presentations (about 40 minutes), LVMWD’s General Manager David Pedersen’s was slated to make a 15 minute presentation. When LVMWD’s factual presentation ran long, and was in opposition to the EPA’s process and conclusions, the EPA representative tried to interrupt Pedersen. The EPA allowed the presentation to continue when the audience literally yelled, fairly raucously, at the EPA to “sit down” and allow LVMWD to continue.

Heal the Bay (the only non-government association allowed to speak in the presentation) supports the changes and says “there is clear evidence” supporting the proposal, but did not discuss the evidence, only the conclusions. They did, however, acknowledge that there are many sources of the problem outside of waste water treatment facility. Ventura County talked about their process. Los Angeles County Public Works raised a large number of significant concerns (similar to LVMWD’s) about the EPA proposal — most specifically that the situation may be naturally occurring and not man-made, and that changing the system may have other unintended consequences.

It’s become clear that Heal the Bay has sued the EPA to implement new standards very quickly, and has caused the EPA to move their time table of implementation from 2021 to 2013, according to LVMWD. Attendees also learned that the last set of EPA standards (2003) has not been implemented or evaluated. As a result of a court order, the EPA is moving very quickly to do what they believe meets the judges instructions, but apparently (there was some confusion on this), the EPA did not present to the judge that they should delay.

Given the questions and comments in the room, it’s clear that the EPA has not proved to many people (including LVMWD/JPA and LA County) that the new standards are necessary, nor that they will be effective, nor that they have the best solution. A couple of very knowledgeable attendees, including those with experience working for the government on environmental water solutions, or working long term on the Malibu water shed, expressed a number of concerns about the lack of overall plan, or the science behind the EPA’s conclusions. As one attendee put it, “there is no scientific consensus that there is indeed an unnatural biological or chemical imbalance OR that the Malibu watershed is either unique or typical.” In addition, several people pointed out that the natural occurring water “above” the treatment facility would not pass the standards proposed, and that treatment facility provides increased flow that may indeed already be helping. The EPA disputes the latter by saying that there are other areas in the Monterey Rock Formation that have good water quality and wildlife levels.

The Acorn was at the meeting, and look for an article next week. The Agoura Hills Patch commented that “Tensions ran high” and the “standing-room-only crowd voiced strong opposition to the proposed restoration of the Malibu Creek Watershed that the federal government says is required.”

The EPA had no intention of video taping the meeting nor making it available to the public, so Westlake Revelations did an ad hoc recording and has now posted it on the Westlake Revelations YouTube channel. You can see that now at: