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Malibu Opts Not to Ban Transfer of Septic Waste on City Streets

Residents have been complaining about the smell of sewage from pumper trucks that transfer septic waste out of Malibu.

The Malibu City Council directed city staff this week to further look into reducing odors from septic pumper trucks, but not to consider an outright ban on city streets at this time.

"I'm not ready to ban the transfer yet," Councilman John Sibert said at Mondays council meeting at Malibu City Hall.

The council agreed to also look into incorporating a place for pumper trucks to transfer septic waste at the future Civic Center Wastewater Treatment Plant, which is expected to be completed by 2015, and ask if the transfers can take place in the turnaround at the Tapia Water Reclamation Facility.

Officials from the Tapia Water Reclamation Facility declined the city's earlier request to allow the transfers to take place on its property, according to Andrew Sheldon, the City of Malibu's environmental health administrator.

In late September, the Malibu Wastewater Advisory Committee voted to recommend turning down an outright ban on the transfers within Malibu's city limits, recognizing that septic systems are an integral part of most Malibu homes and businesses.

The pumper trucks are part of Malibu's infrastrcuture because it does not have a centralized sewer. No spills have been recorded from the trucks.

According to the committee, the smaller trucks are needed to traverse Malibu's narrow roadways to reach homes. The smaller trucks then transfer their septic waste loads into larger trucks, which make three-to-four trips a day to Carson, Van Nuys and Oxnard.

Norm Haney, who chairs the Wastewater Advisory Committee, said odor appears to be the main concern of residents.  

"If we could eliminate 90 percent of the concern with the odor scrubbers, that may be the way to go," Haney said.

According to a city staffer, carbon filters are available, but have not been widely implemented into the industry.

Councilwoman Laura Zahn Rosenthal said she preferred to direct staff to continue to look into the odor issue.

Sibert said he wants to make sure the design for the future Civic Center Wastewater Treatment plant needs to include a place for the pumper transfers to take place.

Councilwoman Joan House said she also supports incorporating a place for transfers to take place into the design plans and to continue to speak to Tapia.

R Y A N December 12, 2012 at 08:20 PM
"Transfers" refers to the pumping truck operators' advantage of transferring sewage from multiple service trucks into a LARGE taker that leaves Malibu to dump at an approved facility. The transferring activity caused terrible odors due to lack of "charcoal filter" odor-control equipment on the big tanker truck. The City's Wastewater Advisory Committee resolved in September to recommend that the odor-control equipment be mandated by City ordinance. The WACo members also resolved to investigate long-term solutions whereby the pumpers could unload at a future City sewage treatment plant, among other locations.

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