After three separate evenings of dismal, non-enlightening performances by the sewer consultants for Los Angeles County, one can only conclude that things are going to get worse, not better, in the future. While we, the residents of Malibu, can lament that we will ultimately "get the treatment," we should be aware that chances are that everyone, not just Malibuites, will ultimately suffer.
Whatever the ultimate "solution" that the sewer consultants come up with, it appears that some or all of our sewage will go to Hyperion Sewage Treatment Plant in El Segundo. Our community at present produces, I am told, between 4 million and 6 million gallons of sewage daily. The city of Los Angeles, allegedly produces 425 million gallons per day and less than 25% receives secondary treatment. This means that all of the sewage from the city of Los Angeles, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, El Segundo, Burbank, Glendale and parts of the San Fernando Valley goes to the Hyperion Sewage Treatment Plant. And then where does it go? After this partial treatment, it goes straight out into the Santa Monica Bay. It follows a pipe out five miles from Hyperion and flows into the bay, 180 feet deep at that point. At this point, I understand, it is only 60% free of toxins.
By now, most everyone knows about the Ballona Creek overflow violations and that the city of Los Angeles was fined more than $30,000. What is not commonly known is that there have been over 23 spills of raw sewage totaling 2.8 million gallons in the last 12 months alone. The city of Los Angeles, I read, is still arguing that wet weather is the main cause despite the fact that most overflows occur during dry weather. Regardless of the reasons, this raw sewage still ends up in our bay.
It is not difficult to determine that one of the main attractions of living in Malibu is our beautiful Santa Monica Bay. And you and I are going to contribute to the ultimate demise of our beautiful bay unless we let the County of Los Angeles know exactly what we want of them. In other words, they are going to decide what to do about your sewage unless they hear from you. And that is what the public hearings were all about last month!
The real problem, then, is you, the residents of Malibu, who did not bother to attend any of the three meetings with the consultants to the county. Seven people came to the first meeting at the Point Dume Community Center, 17 came to the second meeting at Malibu Park Junior High and, after much telephoning and begging, 39 showed up at the Webster School meeting.
According to Dr. Frank Grant, project director of the feasibility study of the sewer system for the county, there will be one more public meeting for public input during their process before the draft environmental impact report and engineering report are completed. (Grant says that at least one more meeting will be conducted some time in January.) I certainly hope that enough people in Malibu realize that the county will continue to do exactly what it wishes on this matter unless you, as residents of Malibu, get your own act together and let them know what Malibu really needs.
In the past, Malibu was given a vote on sewers but it was taken away. Now, you are only given a voice. If you don't exercise your voice, what will come next?
Coordinator, Malibu Alliance
for Sensible Sewage Disposal