Paavo Ogren’s fictional presentation

September 30, 2013

Julie Tacker newwLetter by Julie Tacker the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board

At the September 17, 2013 San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors meeting, after considerable public comment, Director of Public Works, Paavo Ogren, gave an impromptu presentation to the Board. This item had not been agendized, no staff report or opportunity for the public to participate was given. The controversial subject; the Los Osos Waste Water Project, seawater intrusion and dewatering of construction ditches.

Ogren was there to counter the criticism the Board had been receiving every Tuesday this summer for dumping construction water into Morro Bay.

Using the overhead projector, Ogren provided a graphic depicting a cross section of the Los Osos Groundwater Basin. He then took a pen and circled an area known as Zone’s A and B, saying it was the “upper reaches of the upper reaches” of the aquifer, suggesting this was where dewatering is occurring.

paavo4Ogren’s presentation was deceiving; his circle pin pointed a monitoring well site in an area approximately 40 feet above sea level and approximately one quarter mile west of the construction zone and almost half a mile from the nearest dewatering operation.

Paavo's Circle Plan View.jpg

Ogren, with Supervisor Gibson’s editorial support, tried to convince the board that the water currently being pumped from ditches and dumped to Morro Bay has no impact on the community’s depleted drinking water supply. At a recent meeting in Los Osos, Gibson was heard characterizing this quality water as “trash water.”

Dewatering is necessary to bury gravity collection system pipes in areas of high groundwater along the fringe of the Morro Bay, a National Estuary. In these areas, water can often be encountered less than one foot below the soils surface. The ditches must be void of water 18 inches below the bottom of the ditch to allow for gravel, pipe, backfill and compaction to occur. Some dewatering is taking place 20 feet below the soil surface and often below sea level.

Dewatering for construction of the project is not a surprise; the 2009 environmental impact report anticipated one million gallons a day would be encountered by the project. After permits were issued and construction bids were being solicited, in 2012 the County released a conceptual Dewatering Plan. This was the first time we (regulatory bodies and community members) were made aware that the project no longer was looking to dewater a million gallons a day; estimates had jumped tenfold. The county provided options for the contractors to discharge the dewatering water; Supervisor Gibson repeatedly assured Los Osos citizens discharges to the bay would be a “last resort.”

Potential damage to the basin is in the form of a missed opportunity. By pumping and dumping this quality water into the estuary, never to have a chance to recharge or beneficially use it. Other missed opportunities for beneficial reuse are discharges at the Broderson leach field, a multimillion dollar disposal facility built as part of the project and intended to accept treated wastewater once the project is complete. Use of this water is perfect to give it a test run. The Broderson site was chosen over other sites for wastewater disposal because of its proximity to the Los Osos aquifer. The eight acre site high enough on the hill to sit above perforated clay allowing for recharge into the lower confines of the basin. Intended to combat seawater intrusion, it is also expected that most of the disposal is anticipated to mimic the perched aquifers hydrology, keeping wetlands hydrated once septic flow cease.

The unintended consequences of this dewatering surrounds the health of the bay-fringe wetlands and the freshwater springs at Sweet Springs Nature Preserve. No monitoring is taking place to determine if there are any changes taking place with regard to the health of these sensitive resource areas. Monitoring and mitigation of these special places was implied by permitting authorities, but detailed language requiring this best management practice was overlooked and the project management team is not doing anything beyond what is required by the letter of the permits issued.

Again, permitting authorities were not made aware of the change in volumes now expected to be dewatered.

Citizens and the LOCSD, our only elected body, have written letters to the Regional Water Quality Control Board asking that dewatering to the bay cease. No one has suggested the project stop, just recognize the failure and reprioritize the construction schedule to optimize beneficial reuse. Capture and reintroduce the water back into the ground, upslope, away from the bay where it will have a chance to percolate and perhaps make its way to the drinking supply. The largest threat to the Los Osos Groundwater Basin is irreversible seawater intrusion; to dump one precious drop of this construction water is a failure to protect the resource.

Ogren’s flair for fiction is no surprise; to mislead the powers that be, again, no surprise. Gibson, a geophysicist that knows how to read a cross section map, facilitating the farce outside an agenda, marginalizing the public, throwing them from the chambers; no surprise. To waste water is hugely unpopular, but if it’s Los Osos’ water, it’s not real or important water, its “trash water.”

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Relax. After the sewer is ‘up and running’, L.O. will blossom. Finally, all those vacant, and ‘under valued’ properties will be developed by the experts who’ve been busy carefully accumulating.

Since permission has not been given by the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board for dumping “construction” wastewater into the bay, the contractor is committing a crime.

The work needs to immediately stop; the contractor needs to be investigated; charged for illegal dumping; fines levied (and paid) on the contractor and the county for illegal dumping; and an acceptable plan must be submitted to, and formally approved by, CCRWQC, before work can be restarted.

In addition, the contractor’s license status should be challenged. The last thing needed is an ignorant, criminal contractor in charge of environmentally sensitive issues.

The “construction” wastewater is just that: wastewater. It has sediment, soil, runoff from streets and landscapes (which certainly contains fertilizers in the runoff), and is not suitable for dumping into the bay.

And, of course, Ogren is behind these criminal activities and supports them.

As the old saying goes, “The fish rots from the head first,” and in this case, the head is Ogren.

If it wasn’t for the fact that Ogren has created many of the problems he now has to address, I would feel sorry for him. In the futures, textbooks about planning-and-development failures will most certainly include a chapter on Ogren and the disaster he has turned the Los Osos sewer project into.

However, it is Ogren’s mismanagement, and his inability to be honest in his dealing with the people of Los Osos, which has doomed the Los Osos sewer project–Ogren’s Legacy–to disaster.

In a word, hogwash.

Lynette after all the crap and insults to CCN and the commenter’s here that you are spreading via email and facebook, how is it you are still here?

You would think if what you and “others” are saying about CCN was true, you would not even have an account to comment with.

So make up your mind and stop the hypocrisy, you are either one of the commenter’s here or not. In for a penny……..

Hogwash is that like greenwash but for a sewer?

How is it that I am still here? Why ask me, ask CNN! My guess is free speech maybe?

How is it that the Anti-Sewer Group is still blathering nonsense is the better question. But who cares. They have so little support and the project is going full speed ahead.


If it were a crime the CCRWQCB would issue a cease and desist order immediately, and cite the Clean Water Act violation. If they were to continue, then there would be an enforcement action considered, and implemented..

How exactly has the ewer project been doomed? Because after years of delay and obstruction it’s FINALLY being constructed, ending the decades of pollution?

Your allegations and claims are without merit. Your understanding of how the process works is seriously lacking.

Julie’s hair on fire reporting fails to acknowledge that the comprehensive dewatering plan by CDM Smith was released in March 2012. The RWQCB saw this plan at their meeting September 6 and 7, 2012, so to claim that the, “permitting authorities were not made aware of the change in volumes now expected to be dewatered,” is simply not true.

What the Water Board saw in this report was:

“The first stage is to use water for construction use (dust control, etc.) since no groundwater retention sites will be available when work starts.

Stage two would continue to utilize construction use and would add the new Mid-Town retention site and the existing retention basin sites for groundwater disposal while the Broderson leachfield system and the recycled water pipeline from the treatment plant to the Broderson effluent disposal site are being constructed.

During stage three, when the Broderson leachfield site and the recycled water pipeline have been constructed, both the Mid-Town retention site and the Broderson leachfield site will be operational and construction of the gravity collection system and pump stations and force mains can then proceed with the necessary dewatering. The intent would be to pump discharged groundwater to the Mid-Town and public retention basins for land disposal and Broderson for back-up. Discharge to the Mid-Town and existing public retention sites augmented with the Broderson leachfield site appears to be a viable and cost-effective means to dispose of the anticipated flows. Flow estimates range from approximately 620 to 1,300 gpm for one dewatering area, and 2,500 to 4,900 gpm for four concurrent areas throughout construction.

Groundwater production in excess of 6,500 gpm would require a fourth stage involving agricultural reuse along Clark Valley Road. This would be necessary only if the groundwater production exceeds what could be disposed of with the combined capacity of the construction use plus Mid-Town and existing retention sites plus Broderson leachfield site.

Treatment and disposal to the storm drains are a possible optional disposal method.”

What she also fails to mention is the quantity going into the bay right now (above and beyond the million gallons a day that go in all by themselves daily). How much?

QUOTING LT: “Treatment and disposal to the storm drains are a possible optional disposal method.”

DOH. Read the last line of what you quoted (which is at the top of my post, as well). You just proved Tacker’s point for her. Thanks.

The water board indicated treatment and disposal into the storm drains (i.e., NPSP) is a POSSIBLE disposal method. Unless there was a permit issued for the dumping, however, the contractor is committing a criminal act by engaging in unpermitted (NPSP) dumping.

As far as the amount being dumped…just for giggles, why don’t you call the contractor and ask them?

The County and the Water Board are going over this as we type here. The project will not shut down over Broderson not being ready yet. I just found this out today. Go ask the Water Board if you don’t believe me.

The contractor is dumping illegally. Fish and Wildlife have filed an Intent for their conservation plan for three of the local species (a snail, a bird and a rat).

The water board would have to be nuts to permit dumping of sediment- and god-knows-what-filled construction wastewater in the same bay where a Fish and Wildlife conservation program is ongoing.

The current contractor cannot be trusted to stay within the limits of permitting, as evidenced by his current bay dumping. Get another contractor who has a better track-record, put penalties in the contract for unpermitted dumping (in addition to any government agency penalties, and specify the water cannot be dumped in the ocean.

Also, how is it that this issue has been discussed for months now and you are just now finding out about it? Puts you a little behind the eight-ball, doesn’t it?

Are you always so far behind local news, compared to Julie Tacker?

I have been following each letter between the two staffs. The next letter back to the County has not yet been finished. All I see from you is a wish to make the project more expensive. Thanks a bunch, NOT- but you don’t live here do you. Looking to buy distressed properties?

Wrong again!

It is so disheartening that elected officials continually marginalize, nay, flat-out ignore the residents who are directly affected by this entire issue. Week after week, month after month.

Los Osos’ only government body has put their concerns in writing, for the record, and their Supervisor could not begin to care less.

I’m glad I don’t live in Los Osos, but I’m even more glad that I’m not Supervisor Bruce Gibson. I’d be nauseous every time I looked at my apathetic reflection in the mirror.

The only government body to put their concerns in writing would have had a much more effective letter to the Water Board if the other two water purveyors in Los Osos were on board. All three purveyors are tied together in a court case called the “Interlocutory Stipulated Judgement” and have recently published a draft basin report plan for managing the entire basin. You would think that as a group, complaining about this water loss would have meant something serious was going on affecting their ability to produce water. But as no KNOWN amount of water being discharged into to the bay, (as opposed to a POSSIBLE amount), the plea doesn’t have much weight.

Elected officials tend to take requests less seriously when amounts cannot be quantified. This has nothing to do with being marginalized, just presenting a believable case.

Hello ajdury,

The LOCSD letter regarding the construction water discharge is not relevant to the County, the CCRWB, the SWRCB and the CCC for several reasons;

A. The LOCSD has been, by law, stripped of any sewer project planning and construction activities.

B. The LOCSD meeting during which the letter was discussed was presented to the Board and public without ANY STAFF REPORT, or any staff support, or any supportive proof that would have analyzed the impacts and costs associated with the recommendations and assertions of the letter.

C. Look at the LOCSD meeting where the letter was discussed. You will see a few familiar faces.

The only reason the LOCSD Board had even agendized discussion of this letter was that Julie T, Richard M, Linde O and others (the same folks pushing this issue) harangued the Board to begin with. The letter is in essence JulieTacker’s complaint adopted by a clueless CSD Board.

Has Noah and and Betty been notified of this?

Tacker’s observation is spot on, Ogran lied to his Board, why wouldn’t he lie to the Regional board too.

The land disposal infrastructure is in place. Why not use it? Where is the Coast Keeper on this? Even you, MrM (aka LeGros) should oppose this waste of water.

Last weeks article RWQCB excerpts nail the issue:

“For the most part, it was an ill conceived plan, and we weren’t privy to their construction scheduling,” LaCaro said.

“The Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board directed the county not to discharge to the bay without first exhausting all land discharge options and gaining approval from the water board.

“The county may discharge to Morro Bay only after the Central Coast Water Board agrees that land disposal options are infeasible,” water board director Kenneth Harris wrote in an August 7 letter to the county public works department.

But, Rasic began discharging water to the bay in early August without approval from the board and prior to the completion of a network of pipes that would transport the water to a leach field, where it could soak back into the aquifer.

Water board staff member David LaCaro confirmed with CalCoastNews last week that the board never gave the county approval to discharge to the bay.”

“There hasn’t been any formal letter agreeing to the discharge,” LaCaro said.


“The Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board directed the county not to discharge to the bay without first exhausting all land discharge options and gaining approval from the water board. “The county may discharge to Morro Bay only after the Central Coast Water Board agrees that land disposal options are infeasible,” water board director Kenneth Harris wrote in an August 7 letter to the county public works department.

The contractor acted illegally in dumping “construction” wastewater into the bay. Shut down the operation now and suspend all work by the contractor until the water board decides what kind of charges it will file against the contractor.

The fact that Gibson and Ogren support these illegal acts speaks to their being unfit for the office and position they hold. Ogren both made a fool of himself and insulted the public with his circle-drawing presentation stunt.

The attitude of Gibson and Ogren is “me first, who cares about the public I am supposed to be serving,” and it is one of the major reasons the Los Osos sewer project has turned into a disaster.

The sewer project is not a “disaster.” All that you MaryMalone and Julie have proven here is your personal disapproval of Gibson and Ogren. Big whoop.

When you have a county-contracted contractor illegally dumping construction wastewater into a bay, that speaks for a disaster.

Then, of course, we have all of the nincompoopery that has circled the Gibson-Ogren donnybrooke (i.e., the Los Osos sewer project) from the beginning…

It isn’t “illegal.” Look at the permits. Useless to talk until you grasp that information.

Post links to the permits related to the contractor being permitted to dump construction wastewater into the bay.

Discharges of accumulated water to the Mid-Town site is covered by a General Waiver for specific types of discharges (Resolution No. R3-2008-0010). Discharges of accumulated water to surface water is covered by the Construction Stormwater General Permit (Order No. 2009-0009-DWQ with amendments of General Permit). Find them yourself as you claim to know what is going on.

You can spin it any way you’d like Ms. Tornassky…

Antidegradation is Antidegradation – this is a fact. It is illegal, regardless of the permits!

The law has been in place since 1968. Please education yourself.

Prove it’s illegal.

The only fictional presentation, is clearly the one I just read. So many pseudo experts…so little time.

“No one has suggested the project stop, just recognize the failure and reprioritize the construction schedule to optimize beneficial reuse. Capture and reintroduce the water back into the ground, upslope, away from the bay where it will have a chance to percolate and perhaps make its way to the drinking supply.”

What delays would this result in? Cost? Would love to know if this is feasible.

The CCC knows and approves the discharge, as does the CCRWQ, SWRCB and the County of SLO.

Add in the fact that the dewatering activities will end in less than a year, the idea of postponing work until Julie’s tender sensibilities are placated is nonsensical.

You have to be kidding me. You are supporting the illegal dumping of construction wastewater? The contractor should be fined for every day his company has illegally dumped.

The argument, “dewatering activities will end in less than a year” so the contractor should be allowed to continue to illegally dump the wastewater from his project is ludicrous.

In addition, you claim that these agencies knows and approves of the discharge. Where is the documentation for their approval?

Without formal approval, the contractor is acting illegally.

At construction sites, they have to ensure that there is no runoff of sediment-tainted construction water. Yet Razic, the contractor’s illegal dumping of construction-site wastewater which includes sediment is supported by San Luis Obispo County’s Director of Public Works?

The contractor’s contract should be suspended, including all payments, until an investigation of his illegal activities has been completed, fines levied, and fines paid by the contractor.

Hi MaryMalone

None of the responsible governmental agencies have a problem with (and permit) the construction dewatering activities of the SLO County or their contractors involved with the sewer project; nor do any of them assert that the activities are improper or illegal.

While you and others may dismay over the discharge, it is not illegal (no matter how repetitive the allegations).

My take?

The complaint is moot. The project will continue as scheduled.

And “responsible” government agencies did not have problems approving an environmental document for the BP oil wells, even though it listed walruses, sea otters, sea lions and seals. None of those mammals inhabit the warm-water gulf of Mexico.

“Responsible” government agencies are typically asleep at the wheel and their staff does as directed by politicians and management. Otherwise “responsible” government agency staff may not get promoted.

1. If the contractor is permitted to dump construction wastewater into the bay, then simply post a link to the permit.

2. I would think the water board would be just a little conservative on permitting of construction wastewater dumping now that the Fish and Wildlife Service has filed a Habitat Conservation Plan for the Community of Los Osos, San Luis Obispo County, CA, Notice of Intent. They are addressing three particular species

Two of the covered activities of the conservation plan apply to activities currently underway on the LO sewer plant:

Capital Projects: Public and private utility company facility and infrastructure development projects, such as building or expanding roads, libraries, and parks;

Facilities Operations and Maintenance: Public and private utility company activities to operate and maintain, including repair and replace, existing facilities, such as roads, drainage basins, and water systems;…”

The Fish and Wildlife Service just filed their Notice of Intent on 9/19/2013, but have been active in the area, preparing for the project, for awhile now.

Perhaps the construction-wastewater-dumping contractor wants to dump all the construction crap he can now before the government conservation activities get rolling. I think it would be awkward for the water board to permit dumping of construction wastewater into the bay when a government conservation program is under way.