State water board: Septic ban will be enforced - Hi-Desert Star: News

State water board: Septic ban will be enforced

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Posted: Friday, June 21, 2013 9:25 pm

YUCCA VALLEY — Residents, local government leaders and business owners this week got a glimpse of how the community will be affected by the state’s septic prohibition come 2016.

Yucca Valley hosted the California Regional Water Quality Control Board’s Colorado River region regular meeting Thursday at the Community Center.

During the nearly four-hour session, state water board representatives discussed the area’s May 19, 2016, septic prohibition deadline.

Some residents, like Richard Harlan of Yucca Valley, are well aware of the impending mandate, which sets a deadline for when most households can no longer use their septic systems.

“I think some people think that if they don’t vote for the assessment district, all of this will go away like a bad dream,” Harlan said. “It’s not gonna go away if we don’t vote for it and it’s not gonna go away if we pump our septic systems more often.”

The first wave of prohibition will take place in May 2016, affecting homes and structures in the first phase of Hi-Desert Water District’s sewer plan boundaries. Additional areas farther north and west of Phase One will be given later dates to abandon their septic systems.

The State Water Resources Control Board’s sub-executive director, Jose Angel, said the state will enforce its prohibition on a case-by-case basis. If investigators find that a property has failed to connect to the sewer system once it’s in place, the property owner will be issued a notice of warning and enforcement will escalate from there.

Angel said Yucca Valley has been talking about building a sewer system since the late 1970s. More than 30 years later, Yucca Valley is finally inching toward a sewer system, but at a much higher cost.

“In 1973, it was a $10 million problem. Now it’s a $120 million problem,” Angel said.

The elephant in the room was the sewer’s target operational date. Hi-Desert Water District is contracting with Atkins North America to design Phase One of the sewer project. HDWD expects the wastewater system to be up and running by May 2016, but what if it isn’t?

Board to new businesses: “Buyer beware”

It’s an uncertainty that’s heavily affecting new development in town, especially the new senior housing complex.

The state water board gave permission for the town to build the apartment complex using a septic system, but the board imposed an order, stipulating the apartments must be connected to a sewer system by May 19, 2016, or have a package treatment plant in place if the sewer is not complete by that date.

Angel called the policy a “buyer beware” regulation on new growth.

Town Manager Mark Nuaimi addressed the board, saying the state’s order on the senior housing project unfairly targets new development for enforcement.

Existing commercial or multi-family properties have not been given state orders to firmly comply with the May 2016 mandate, but new developments, like the senior housing project, have.

He said developers are unclear about how to proceed with handling wastewater treatment because of the costs and risks, costing Yucca Valley millions in retail dollars lost to low desert businesses.

Nuaimi said the town needs development to help pay for the sewer system.

“This Basin exports over $300 million of retail down the hill,” Nuaimi told the board.

Byron Ely, vice president of construction for National Community Rennaissance, or CORE, the developers of the senior housing project, asked the board to clarify its position on septic discharge. The board was befuddled by the question, signaling a disconnect between board members and regulators.

Water Quality Control Board member Thomas Davis said the issue at hand is “black and white,” but Ely and Nuaimi said the regulations are clear as mud.

As a nonprofit developer relying on several time-sensitive funding sources, CORE can install hookups to the future septic system, but risk having to pay to install a costly package treatment plant if no sewer is in place by May 2016. If a package treatment plant is installed, it’s unclear whether the system will be sufficient to meet state discharge standards for years to come.

Ely’s concerns were pertinent not only to the business world, but residents throughout town.

“It’s vitally important for us to come away with some certainty,” Ely told the board.

© 2016 Hi-Desert Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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  • WhoISrunningtheshow posted at 8:44 pm on Sat, Jun 22, 2013.

    WhoISrunningtheshow Posts: 37

    Wow, did you all read hidesertdrifter ?? The best comment of all was:

    The Hi desert water district board is the worst. Some dimwit board members looked at solutions that were from the snake oil salesmen.

    In case anyone forgets, its when a certain local Engineer (snake oil salesman), who has been in Yucca Valley for a very long time, used his influence (political and personal) to try to have the Board approve a crazy plan, that, well well, his new company was promoting (or should we say new company). Of course, it was ridiculous from the start, for a project of this size, using a system that is only used for a few hundred houses. Check the HDWD public record for the bogus and downright dishonest Engineering proposal, that should have cost the authors their engineering license, and still might (hint hint).

    "IT" flows downhill folks, Yucca Valley is a natural for a traditional sewer system.

    That charade, diverted almost 2 years from getting the sewer system project to where it is today, with yet more costs, a looming deadline and the public even more confused (as they should be, since there are conflicting messages from HDWD).

    So, follow the money trail Engineering Company -> GM -> Board of Directors

    In case you can't figure is out, names will be named soon.

    Rome had sewers 2,000 years ago, maybe Yucca Valley should catch up.

    Back at the water district, with Luckino gone, there is no one left with any common sense to police the inside craziness and haphazard management.

  • Branson Hunter posted at 11:25 am on Sat, Jun 22, 2013.

    Branson Hunter Posts: 1126

    But of course new development should be included. What is the town manager thinking?

  • Dave Peach posted at 8:45 am on Sat, Jun 22, 2013.

    Dave Peach Posts: 2998

    Ms. Margo is now owed enormous gratitude (fairly including very substantial sums of money) by HDWD and all the affected stakeholders. After pulling up a legal oversight just as the developer-sided hacks on the Regional Water Board were about to allow the town manager's co-conspirators special favors, which would have excluded his low-income apartment boondoggle from participating in the increasingly imminent infrastructure upgrade, Ms. Margo deftly decreased the costs for those who are less fortunate and less predatory.

    The regional and state water officials have already allowed undue harm to both the local economy and environment. By allowing the Warren Aquifer to become contaminated, the costs associated with their irresponsibility was passed onto HDWD ratepayers to mitigate the contamination, many of whom reside far afield of the contaminated area and had no culpability in the harm that was unduly allowed.

    A class-action lawsuit on their behalf is long overdue but unfortunately lacked anyone with the spine and sometimes the resources required to challenge the state government. Conversely, HDWD officials have accumulated the resources but still lack the spine, which warrants corrective elections.

    Continuing to allow developers free rein (and reign) despite overdue but inevitable costs, passed onto others, has resulted in avoidance by commerce and has stifled real estate values, while the costs have continued to accrue.

    Threatening random fines following warnings, someday in the future, which will inevitably include supporters of the infrastructure upgrade, will many times amount to attempting to squeeze blood from a turnip. Few stakeholders can afford package treatment systems or dumping fees, both of which are certainly more expensive than participating in a water treatment system, which would also provide much more of what Yucca Valley cannot grow without or otherwise acquire or afford.

    Abandoned homes and businesses cannot help contribute to the cost of the infrastructure that should have been in place prior to the homes and businesses.

    Contrary to Mark Nuaimi's erroneous suppositions, more development has and can only add to the need for infrastructure as opposed to reducing the costs, which only requires common sense as opposed to inauthentic qualifications as an official charlatan.

    As one of the water board hacks surmised, a de facto moratorium on new development will become more obvious and applicable as the deadline approaches, excluding more affluent developers who can afford package treatment systems. Consequently, the haves will continue to be allowed to soak and poke the have-nots.

    However, just as when a former water board placed a moratorium on all new development until an adequate supply of clean water became assured, the regional and state hacks retain that option, which would as rapidly assure acceptance by most stakeholders as subsequent to the previous moratorium, more quickly assuring economic recovery and gain as opposed to assuring more contamination and economic loss.

    Inasmuch as the developer-sided hacks are slated to return in September, environmentalists and economists should gear up for the showdown, preferably with attorneys in tow.

  • highdesertdrifter posted at 8:38 am on Sat, Jun 22, 2013.

    highdesertdrifter Posts: 26

    Its time to pay the piper yucca valley residents. You are not special and neither is your want to be town. For years the cronies of the town and the water district put on their clown faces and have told the public we support this. When in fact all they have done behind the scenes is bury their heads in the sand so deep they were seeing china. The Hi desert water district board is the worst. Some dimwit board members looked at solutions that were from the snake oil salesmen. This wastewater project could have moved forward five years ago but the looser board and incompetent general manager snake put the brakes on it behind the scenes. The GM for Hi desert water district is such a slick wiley he got himself appointed to the skateboard thinking his politics could stop the wastewater treatment plant. The scariest part is HDWD is going to won and operate the wastewater system. I wonder if they will build the plant like they do with capital replacement pipe program. Just put pipe in the ground with no engineered plans, profiles or staking. What I see next is promoting an entry level staff to manager who is a yes man to the GM of HDWD to be the chief plant operator for the wastewater plant. Wake up people and pay attention to what is going on in your town governments.


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