Two Malibus, one big pollution problem

The news peg for Hans Laetz' piece in this week's Surfside News about Malibu's ongoing septic tank woes is the pending showdown between two conservation groups and our little city. Santa Monica Baykeeper and the Natural Resource Defense Council want to bring federal oversight to Malibu's polluted shores.

Two weeks ago, Santa Monica Baykeeper and the Natural Resource Defense Council gave official no­tice that they intend to file a federal Clean Waters Act suit against the City of Malibu and the County of Los Angeles. Unless the defendants can convince Baykeeper and NRDC differently, a federal lawsuit can be filed in two months that could place a federal judge in charge of rules for building and remodeling projects in Malibu and beyond. It could also force existing property owners to obey some new strict set of septic tank and runoff-water regulations.

You can get a case of whiplash following the "Did not!"/"Did too!" accusations and denials by both sides.

And then there's the hypocracy:

This is a story of two Malibus.

The first Malibu held a fundraising party at Bluffs Park on Sunday. Raffles and other activities gathered funds to help complete a huge water treatment scheme at Legacy Park; a flood­­water collection, storage, treatment and dispersal project that will top $35 million in costs. This Malibu has en­acted the toughest septic tank rules in Southern California, and is working on several ex­pensive, major water treatment projects to clean up pollution hot spots along the beaches.

The other Malibu doesn’t care. It lets precious water shipped here at great expense from a faraway river delta flow across its gardens and out into gutters. It lets moss and green gunk flourish in the dozens of PVC pipes that flow continuously out into ocean sand. The other Malibu looks the other way as beachfront septic tanks em­ploy seepage pits in which the human waste rises and falls each day as it mixes with the ocean’s tides. And it con­­sistently violates a state law that forbids dumping any water, ev­en a downspout of rainwater, into a section of the Pacific around Point Dume and up to Point Mugu—a stretch considered a publicly-owned “crown jewel, an ocean Yosemite” in need of special protection.

Critics say the in­escapable conclusion is that some Malibuites exist in both worlds simultaneously."

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