City Manager's Letter to State Parks Expresses Numerous Concerns Over Dewatering Plan
BY SUZANNE GULDIMANN
A new letter from Malibu City Manager Jim Thorsen to the State Parks department regarding the dewatering portion of the controversial Malibu Lagoon construction project has surfaced on the city's website, raising questions about when the letter, which does not appear to have been on any recent city council meeting agenda, was approved.
The letter, dated March 9, reads:
"On Monday, February 27th the City Council unanimously requested that I follow up with State Parks on the status of the previous 2 letters that were sent to the California Coastal Commission with regard to the Malibu Lagoon project. The City Council believes that without State Park oversight and assurance that the requested conditions in the letters have been properly implemented into the project plans and specifications, the project may have serious impacts to the environment and water quality.
"[In the city's Oct. 7 2010 letter to the California Coastal Commission], we requested that 10 additional conditions regarding bacterial indicator monitoring during construction and post construction be added to the project in order to protect the environment. The requested conditions are as follows:
"1) For the 60 days prior to the beginning of construction, the State shall perform weekly monitoring of the Lagoon and ocean wavewash immediately adjacent to the project (2 locations for each) in order to help define existing water quality.
"2) No later than 60 days prior to beginning construction, the State shall have a full construction water quality monitoring plan that shall be approved by the Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWCQB) and the City of Malibu. Said plan shall require and include frequency of testing, list of constituents to be tested and location of sampling.
"3) During construction, water quality testing shall be performed at least twice per week in accordance with the City and R WQCB approved plan.
"4) For a period of one (1) year after construction, the State shall continue to perform water quality testing in the Lagoon and at the ocean wavewash immediately adjacent to the project on a weekly basis and at the same locations as identified in No.1 above.
"5) Water quality testing during construction and post construction shall include human specific bacteriodales [sic] testing on a monthly basis in the Lagoon and ocean wavewash immediately adjacent to the project and at the same locations as identified in No.1 above.
"6) The State shall also perform water quality monitoring in accordance with the Malibu Lagoon Restoration and Enhancement Plan, June 15, 2005. This shall include all nine (9) site locations as recommended by the report. (Currently the applicant has dropped site #9 in the monitoring plan on the East site be restored in the QAPP and P AEP for two reasons: there is proposed sediment dredging and deepening of the channel, and testing has shown that there is an abundant FIB in the sediment at this location.)
"7) Water quality testing shall include all three (3) fecal indicator bacteria (total and fecal coliform, and enterococcus) at all nine (9) sampling locations within the Lagoon project area. In addition, a sample site(s) must be added to be closely associated with the discharge point of any dewatering.
"8) The approved monitoring plan shall be included in the contractor's specifications as the minimum sampling required.
"9) Results of all monitoring shall be made available to the public.
"10) The State shall indemnify the City of Malibu and any other affected NPDES co-permittee for any impairment to water quality caused by or contributed to as a result of the project.
"In addition, we requested the State perform a pre- and post-construction bird survey.
"Finally, as we have stated, the City anticipates that during and after the physical changes to then Lagoon [sic], a much higher frequency of fecal indicator bacteria exceedances could be observed.
The latest construction dewatering plans indicate that filtered and disinfected water may be discharged directly onto dry and/or wet sand at Surfrider Beach during the period of highest recreational use. The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has confirmed the presence of both Staphylococcus aureus and MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus) at Surfrider Beach. Any physical disturbance of the wet or dry sand is likely to transport this same bacteria into the ocean and could increase the human health risk to beachgoers. Therefore, in order to ensure bacteria impacts are minimized, the City is requesting the following 3 conditions be included into the project specifications:
"a) The dewatering plan shall be designed to adequately meet the proposed treatment volumes and water quality objectives. At such time the filtration/disinfection system is constructed, it shall be fully tested prior to discharge to the main channel of the creek, the sand or near shore. This pretesting phase shall meet water quality standards for three consecutive days before actual discharge out of the construction site.
"b) During construction, water quality testing shall be performed at least twice daily, a minimum of 1.5 hours apart, at all discharge points, including end of pipe and just downstream (post-discharge) of the discharge points in accordance with the City and RWQCB approved plan. If after three weeks of daily sampling without any bacteria exceedances, a reduced number of sampling days in accordance with condition no. 3 above (October 7,2010 letter) can be implemented.
"c) All laboratory results that do not meet water quality standards must be reported to the RWQCB and the City of Malibu within 24 hours.
"At this time it is requested that State Parks provide written verification that the above conditions have been complied with, including the bird survey, and how these conditions have been incorporated into the project plans and specifications. Providing this assurance is of high concern to the City Council and will demonstrate that State Parks has addressed our serious water quality concerns."
A number of Lagoon project opponents, including surfers and several City Council candidates, have brought concerns about the dewatering process to the council.
Activist Wendi Warner has outlined a lengthy list of questions that concludes: "the potential hazards of this incomplete [dewatering] approach cannot be ignored."
Opponents are currently challenging the project in appeals court.