Los Osos officials fail to comprehend water conservation

April 12, 2015
Tom Salmon

Tom Salmon


The Tribune reports that the Los Osos Community Services District (LOCSD) has implemented a 50 gallon per day per person water restriction and no potable water can be used for irrigation outside. The LOCSD fails to grasp the need for continuing groundwater introduction.

If I skip my 10 gallon shower today and used 10 gallons to water my 100-year-old oak tree; who would know? If my neighbor gives me their extra water to irrigate with, do they get penalized somehow? What difference would it make? If I want to spend my money in protecting an old oak tree, or my large investment of landscaping, so it will be there when it does rain, there is nothing they can do with ordinance.

What government overreaching water police is going to arrest me and at what cost? These are areas this miserable board doesn’t comprehend.

What the daily paper fails to mention is that the LOCSD only has authority to regulate its customers, not all residents within the district or all those who reside within the groundwater basin. How do I differ with my water usage from the other local water purveyors? What do they intend to do with the penalty monies they collect? Do we have a say in the expenditures of penalty funds?

The report also fails to mention that the district recently imposed a 53 percent rate increase over the next four years intended for infrastructure projects. So far the LOCSD has given their general manager a $10,000 annual raise, bought two new trucks, is negotiating a lease on new office building and has severed all ties with the South Bay Community Center for use for board meetings.

The rogue general manager and CSD President Mike Wright is negotiating use of our water tanks for cell antennas in the same 16th Street neighborhood that opposed a similar proposal a decade ago.

This is the same LOCSD Board that allowed the county to dump 150,000,000 gallons (six months’ supply) of treatable water into Morro Bay. A crime that only the Baywood Water Co. paid the price for.

Do people realize that this was equivalent to 3,000,000 daily personal uses? Do people realize that Mike Wright had an obligation to stop this waste, but did not?

He wanted that loss of resource to be able to raise rates for his “pet” projects. He was personally made aware of this prior to the waste of such a precious commodity. I showed him the data, test results and options to correct a mistake before it happened. This one issue is a point of insanity that this LOCSD has subjected on their “subjects.” When will he stand up to the LOCSD and particularly Mike Wright. His office is 528-9370, call and tell them how you feel….. Thank you

Tom Salmon, is a longtime Los Osos resident with 35 years of expertise in statewide public infrastructure.



  1. Ron says:

    Of course, if Los Osos REALLY wanted to save gobs of water, its residents would simply switch to modern greywater/composting toilet systems.

    Of course, IF just one Los Osos PZ resident were to simply pop down to Home Depot, purchase, and then, in a weekend, install a modern, environmentally beautiful, relatively low-cost, greywater/composting toilet system, and then go to court and argue “no benefit, no assessment,” and, therefore, get out of paying the sewer assessment, there wouldn’t be any need for a super-expensive, NOT-environmentally-beautiful, sewer system, because everyone else would eventually be forced to do the exact same thing (or pay a gazillion dollars a year just to flush with water).

    And, then, of course, there would be a $160 million sewer system in Los Osos that no one would need to hook up to (or pay for), because they’d all be rockin’ modern, environmentally beautiful, relatively low-cost, greywater/composting toilet systems… or, as I call it, “The County’s Worst-Case-Scenario in Los Osos.”

    [Oh lord, that’d be beautiful… and it would save a massive amount of water… and energy. And all it would take for that scenario to happen, is just one PZ property owner to do exactly what I explained above. Any takers?]

    (-10) 24 Total Votes - 7 up - 17 down
    • FrankNBali says:


      What does PZ mean? Sorry we’re new to Los Osos.

      We’d do this, I don’t want to hook to that sewer system. I do want to convert our septic to a grey water holding tank.

      Compost toilets sound great. We use manual buckets and GreyWater to flush our low flow toilets now– but not every flush at moment. I would love to beef up our system.

      (-2) 8 Total Votes - 3 up - 5 down
    • SLO_Johnny says:

      Good luck selling your home with a composting toilet. Plus, many people rent. Most of the water is used for bathing and irrigation and dish washing.
      Your home must have a functioning toilet connected to an approved sewage system so you must pay the sewer fees and assessments.

      (9) 11 Total Votes - 10 up - 1 down
      • hijinks says:

        This is how bureaucratic group think goes. You must do this, you must do that. Yeah, and take the earth to the dump in the process. Rethink, fellow. That’s why God gave us brains.

        (0) 10 Total Votes - 5 up - 5 down
    • FairAndBalanced says:

      No. The composting toilet idea is a waste of time. You would have to get a permit, good luck with that. The sewer project is already on our tax bills, so we would be paying for two things.

      (6) 10 Total Votes - 8 up - 2 down
    • Pelican1 says:

      Are you still attempting to sell snake oil?

      (4) 4 Total Votes - 4 up - 0 down
  2. SLO_Johnny says:

    Ground water injection is the best answer for water shortages in Los Osos. Every rainstorm sends tens of millions of gallons of water flowing into the ocean. The water can be drawn from the creeks then filtered and oxygenated and injected into the ground. Orange County has been using this technique for more than a decade, and it works. Salt water intrusion into the basin could be stopped and reversed. The cheapest place to store water is underground.

    (15) 15 Total Votes - 15 up - 0 down
    • hijinks says:

      Or, in the interim, till the bureaucrats get some brains, in a tank.

      (1) 3 Total Votes - 2 up - 1 down
  3. ThomasAquinas says:

    It was John Wooden, the coach of UCLA.

    I appreciate neighbors commenting on how to solve complex problems,
    and many of these remedies are viable. These opinions here aren’t anti social,
    but are meant to illustrate the laziness of citizens to prepare themselves to situations that are present. The editorial is to give credence to the inability of government to be the solution to complex problems. The drought is not the issue, but a tool, to what is and how we were directed to our immediate position. This was not accidental, but a method of satisfying ones own desire to force a particular outcome. A realization is forced upon Los Osos to admit what is now before us was discussed and remedied nearly 15 years by experts here.

    We haven’t prepared ourselves or society to foresee what we should do to be able to
    adapt and overcome a possibility. Whether a shortage of water, earthquake or worse a
    nuclear incident, or some other cataclysmic accident.

    If a few of the remarks actually had used critical analysis, the prognosis of the the future requirements of water, less government and allowing the residents of this community to be a partner in the process, should be obvious. This drought is a normal climatic and temporary condition, and it will end.

    Our governmental representatives do not have our best interests at heart.
    Please let us not fall into that false sense of security.
    Try reading Franklin on that issue. It is irrelevant whether Mike Wright was president,
    or just a director, he did NOTHING to stop the waste of a extremely important natural
    resource. I find it telling coming from a remark titled “fair and balance”, like Fox news is
    neutral or unbiased.

    (5) 15 Total Votes - 10 up - 5 down
    • OsosGrande says:

      This was a county project issue.
      The CSD did send a letter, but the County ignored.
      Plus, what would be the cost to clean-this trash water?.
      Also,how much of this water went to midtown and the ‘walker ditch’ for pecolation?

      . How many gallons actually went to the bay? The County needs to advise,

      (0) 2 Total Votes - 1 up - 1 down
      • ThomasAquinas says:

        Mike, the LOCSD has known about this issue long before your board let the county become involved, there were no actions taken prior to the letter you sent out. I informed you while your were on the board and before.
        Really Mike, all the water goes back to the ground for filtering. I personally had the
        water tested and gave you the results showing only a slight elevation of nitrates,
        nothing else. Less than the drinking water of Tulare, Salinas and many other locations in California. The cost was minimal, the method for relocation was already in place,
        every settling pond should have been continuously filled and refilled. Brodersen and
        the 80 acres were specifically constructed for that purpose, you should have been jumping up and down at the BOS to stop this travesty, instead you and Marshall decided
        that not offending Bruce was much more important.
        According to county records 150MILLION gallons were lost, on your watch, I gave you
        the records. Even 1 MILLION gallons would have been too much….
        As for your GM Kivley, I just received confirmation from the county that Kivley wrote
        to the county stating she is the owner of the property where the proposed cell will
        be built, did YOU or Marshall deed it to her?
        No sir, this terrible excuse of government should dissolved, eliminated, ka-put. The
        funds given to the county for the bankruptcy, the legal fees going to Sietz, and then there is Wallace. No Mike Wright, it is just a waste of money, for bad service……

        (2) 6 Total Votes - 4 up - 2 down
        • FairAndBalanced says:

          ThomasAquinas, what could the Board have done? The sewer project is NOT in the CSD’s purview, so “let the County become involved” make no sense, as it isALREADY involved.

          Who would have paid for the numerous, constantly rotating trucks from pump to who knows where, dumping the water? What about the diesel fumes from all of that? Trucks hold 5,000 gallons at best, just how many trips would that have been every day? A lot of the basins you think belong to the CSD are private property anyway. The County would have had to make negotiations.

          Besides, 1,000,000 gallons of water flow into the bay from land every single day from the springs and seeps around it. This just would have added to that as nothing you put in a basin was going down to the lower aquifer where we get most of the drinking water.

          Broderson was not ready to take the water. Not Ready. The CSD had nothing to do with that. Nothing but tertiary water could go there even if it had been ready, and every load of water was not consistent in quality.

          Do you mean Gibson? What has Bruce Gibson to do with this?

          GM Kivley is acting as the agent of the CSD in property dealings, those sorts of things are discussed in closed session.

          What is a cell?

          The “funds” given to the County for the bankruptcy was returning the solid waste franchise and that is already done. The bankruptcy is over, didn’t you know?

          (1) 5 Total Votes - 3 up - 2 down
          • Julie says:

            The cell tower project has only been discussed once in Closed Session; May 1, 2014.
            If it has been other times, that would violate the Brown Act for improper noticing.
            The direction given was to negotiate with Labor Negotiators,
            according to those minutes which have to be incorrect.
            I understand that negotiations are still under way.
            What is the cost to the LOCSD for Wallace Group’s work on this?
            They are looking into possible utility conflicts on the site.
            There’s a new board since that early direction was given.
            What’s the opinion of the project from the new board’s perspective?
            Where’s any new direction? Does it pencil?
            Director, Lou Tornatsky recently suggested the revenue was only going to be $12K-$20K annually.
            Where do those numbers come from if there’s been no Closed Session on it?
            How is Ms. Kively authorized to move ahead on a project without a deal
            in front of the board? Why would she waster everyone’s time if the Board/public hasn’t given their blessing?
            How does the county process a MUP without a resolution from the board?
            Decisions like this are to be made in public with the benefit of public input.
            Process, process, process. Having committees quarterly is not working out well.
            Finance and Utilities should be all over this subject.

            (0) 8 Total Votes - 4 up - 4 down
            • FairAndBalanced says:

              Thanks for clarifying “cell” as cell tower. But looking back,maybe it is just the minutes that are incorrect? We can’t know what went on in Closed Session. Hence the MUP may be no big deal. It sounds like it is just part of business if a direction was given to do the groundwork. Would a MUP need Board direction specified for that point in public?

              Didn’t this go to LOCAC anyway? Won’t it be on a future CSD agenda if Verizon does their part? What is the point of bringing anything to the community until Verizon has its permits in place with the conditions for us to see?

              Wallace Group is “…looking into possible utility conflicts on the site.” How did you find out?

              What utility conflict could there be? It isn’t a “tower” anyway, there are small arrays attached to the tanks in various places.

              As I understand it, the MUP is only a permit request which will die if Verizon doesn’t follow through. Verizon does the heavy lifting here.

              I don’t think the community as a whole, percentage-wise, gives a rats a** on every tiny detail. When the deal is ready, the community can chime in there. I heard it was pretty calm when it was presented at the LOCAC meeting last year.

              (-1) 5 Total Votes - 2 up - 3 down
              • Julie says:

                Is FairandBalanced Lynette?

                I have spoken to credible sources who have enlightened me on “groundwork”
                that has been done on the Verizon project. I have also looked at the county for records on the proposal.

                Cell towers have buildings that house the equipment associated with the tower; cables, back up power
                and batteries (any of these could conflict with what’s already there).

                Here’s how I see it, if this is Lynette, you’ve already heard my point, I’m upset with the lack of process.
                The LOCSD hasn’t had a even a Finance Advisory Committee meeting on this subject.
                The property belongs to the public; it’s our conversation to have.

                But, if Lou is correct and the “deal” is for $12K-$20K annually,
                the LOCSD needs to ask if this is even worth their time/risk (perceived or not) to their ratepayers.

                The presentation at LOCAC last year was calm, it didn’t have a location pinpointed.

                You were the person who suggested Verizon contact the LOCSD after having been
                turned down on more than one occasion. That was because the subject was very contentious
                due to their experience in 2000 when the LOCSD was roasted over a similar proposal.

                As for Verizon proceeding with a MUP application, how crappy is that for them to proceed down a path
                that doesn’t have the board’s backing? Let’s see the board get behind the proposal BEFORE people waste their time
                (and the county staff time) and money on the project.

                I’m not necessarily opposed to the project, I just want a transparent process.
                Once again, deals are being made in the dark.

                (-3) 7 Total Votes - 2 up - 5 down
                • Pelican1 says:

                  Please explain why “transparency” seemed meaningless when YOU helped helped Los Osos become bankrupt?

                  (4) 8 Total Votes - 6 up - 2 down
          • ThomasAquinas says:

            Lynette, I realize you are relatively new to the area, and not been here long enough to know the history of the community. I would have thought since your husband is now on the LOCSD, understanding how we got here would have taken place.
            The community has understood that digging in many of the areas required pumping good water out of the ground. Our representives refused to plan ahead for this. Before you were here l many Phd’s, engineers and technical advisors determined how to collect and save this resource. John, Tom, Rick, Pravin, Wade, these were some on the experts involved.It is historical records, you should read it sometime. Trucking water was never the idea, it’s a shame you would resort to that discussion to put forward conversation.
            If you look at the basins, they are primed for the water, why didn’t the LOCSD bother to be ready for the availability. The LOCSD didn’t know that the drains going to the bay, the LOCSD gave away to the county, never telling the community about that.
            Please give up your mantra of water going to the bay in seeps. If this is happening why hasn’t the government stop wasting it!!!! Are you really telling Los Osos that rain water from the roads going into the ponds is tertiary tested and approved? How does that happen?
            The groundwater is definitely viable to use, especially better that not using it. The cost is actually quite cheaper than putting it thru a sewer plant and adding chemicals, heavy metals and unused pharmaceuticals.
            How do you address GM Kivley’s actions with the cell tower, there is no public information available, never a meeting . Did Lou share closed sessions minutes with 
            Lynette I understand your commitment to your husband, I find it adorable, but please just tell the entire story and not try to sway people with just going in half-cocked… Have a great day, the weather is perfect to relax and sip a umbrella drink

            (3) 11 Total Votes - 7 up - 4 down
      • FairAndBalanced says:

        You can read the Water Board’s report on the dewatering off this link:


        Best to get the story from a credible agency that is very, very, very picky about water.

        (-1) 7 Total Votes - 3 up - 4 down
      • Julie says:

        This was WATER, not “trash water”.
        The marvelous Baywood fine sand soils of Los Osos is a filter.
        If it had simply been percolated back into the ground; nature would have taken care of the rest.
        Using the CPRA I got the numbers you ask about. The 150,000,000 million figure is what went to the
        Bay from Ramona, Butte, 3rd St.and Walker (the ditch leads to LO Creek, which leads to the bay)..
        Tri-W received only 50,000,000 and “dust control” another 50,000,000.
        The dewatering plan put forth by the County recommended using the Broderson leachfield, but the permit allowed for the water to be dumped
        and the contractor opted for the easiest, cheapest, way to be rid of the water.
        ARB spent a great deal of money on over land conveyance to Tri-W, WAR was the worst offender. No one held their feet to the fire.
        Even the RWQCB and Coastal Commission were helpless.
        It really would have had to have been the LOCSD to hold the County accountable
        and using their position in the ISJ they should have demanded the best management practices for the basin.
        What about the “project issue’s” that were directly issues of the LOCSD that went unchecked? The LOCSD’s facilities were damaged during construction,
        LOCSD staff time was used in fielding questions and repairing infrastructure.
        I never saw a claim from the LOCSD for cost recovery.
        The county raked purveyors over the coals with their deals on recycled water to the schools.
        I have heard rumor these contracts are being reworked, but as they are they hurt the LOCSD and GSWC’s bottom lines.
        I wish the LOCSD & GSWC would have just pulled out of the ISJ and managed the majority of the basin on their own.
        You say above, “The County needs to advise”. Advise what?
        The County mismanaged this basin for decades before the LOCSD was formed.
        FYI, Baywood Water bills were $20 every other month no matter how much water you
        used. I, and my neighbors, had “who had the best lawn” competitions.
        At one point the CSA9-A water system was leaking 37% of the water it pumped,
        I guess we can be grateful most of that went back in the ground.
        We needed that water. Broderson is still a mystery. It should have been exercised.

        (-1) 11 Total Votes - 5 up - 6 down
  4. Laughlines says:

    Those of us who grew up during the drought of the late 1970s remember (or should, one hopes) all the conservation tips we learned then. For nearly 40 years now I haven’t run the water continuously whilst brushing teeth or shaving. I’ve cut our landscape irrigation back pretty well, but I’m loathe to simply let it all die. That’s not only a huge hit to my home value (my single largest investment) but also would require lots of time and effort to redo once rains return. And they will, eventually. We managed to get our 2014 water usage down by nearly 25% over 2013, and I was deployed for pretty much all of 2013 into 2014. I catch my warm up water from my shower, where I have installed a low-flow shower head. I doubt I go up to ten gallons per shower. I’ll go ahead and set up more water saving methods, but what bothers me about all of this is that the water purveyors all seem to leap immediately into enforcement and punishment, even to the point of encouraging others to inform on their neighbors. Too much, in my opinion. How about offering rate payers (us) rebates for implementing conservation? I can switch my lawn irrigation over to MP Rotators and get efficient turf coverage with less water use; how about some incentives for me, a guy who doesn’t make a lot of money? How about getting all the unemployed/underemployed youth into some version of CCC and get them out fixing leaking fixtures? How about getting serious about double-plumbing in order to use reclaimed water for flushing, thus closing that loop? No, we are now talking about smart water meters and hugely punitive fines for relatively minor infractions. Wrong approach. Seems to me if it goes much further in the Big Brother direction, a smart group of attorneys could craft a class action lawsuit. Also, perhaps now we can see the wisdom of those earlier Californian visionaries who crafted the water projects. We have doubled our population and have been tearing down dams. We need storage, plain and simple.

    (19) 19 Total Votes - 19 up - 0 down
    • tomsquawk says:

      you make alot of good points. we pump seawater into our house. we also know how to take a boat shower

      (3) 3 Total Votes - 3 up - 0 down

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