County Supervisor Deane Dana, a longtime supporter of a proposed $86-million regional sewer system, said this week that he is now convinced that scaled-down alternatives can solve the health problem the county says exists from overflowing septic tanks in the beach community.
Dana said that he favors phased construction of several smaller sewage plants and expansion of an existing plant at Pepperdine University to the more costly regional sewer.
The Board of Supervisors, confronted by about 1,000 angry Malibu residents, delayed a final vote on the regional system last week, saying it was concerned about project costs and wanted to study scaled-down alternatives.
The board wants to "resolve this problem promptly, in a way better suited to the community both in scope and in cost," Dana said at a board meeting Tuesday.
The supervisors then approved several positions they took at last week's hearing--ordering broad and detailed studies of Malibu's septic tanks and directing that representatives of the Malibu Township Council, Pepperdine University, owners of large undeveloped tracts of land and members of other groups be appointed to a citizens advisory committee on the sewer issue.
They also ordered new studies on how sewer construction would affect traffic and on possible savings from private, rather than county, construction of a regional system.
Not all of the supervisors' comments were conciliatory, however. They emphasized that, contrary to some testimony by regional sewer opponents, they believe Malibu has a health problem from septic tank failures.
And Supervisor Pete Schabarum said the problem must be promptly solved "with or without" cooperation from Malibu residents.
The board asked that the county staff report back Dec. 29 with recommendations.