"It's the ultimate decision," district spokeswoman Sonja Wassgren
said. "This is the night they're going to be making a decision about the
level of treatment."
Board members will convene at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the district's
Fountain Valley plant, at 10844 Ellis Ave. A 45-minute public comment
period has been scheduled for the beginning of the meeting.
Four options have been put on the table for treating the sewage
released 4 1/2 miles out to sea via an ocean outfall pipe. The board
could elect to reduce treatment, leave it status quo, increase it to full
treatment or use an alternative method known as microfiltration.
The later two methods are expected to cost about $440 million and $460
million to implement.
One option, Wassgren said, would be for the district to promise to
implement full treatment -- which could take as long as 10 years -- and
also apply for an extension of the waiver.
It's an option that won't sit well with many.
"That would give them a huge out," Councilwoman Connie Boardman said.
"Once they have the waiver, the motivation to go to full [treatment]
might not be as strong."
Environmentalists and city leaders have been calling on the district
to step up treatment of the sewage, saying they suspect the plume is
contributing the contamination in the surf zone. However, a $5-million
district study last summer suggested that bacteria was not reaching the
shoreline in high concentrations.
City leaders questioned the study's conclusion that other sources --
including storm drains, an RV park and possibly the AES power plant --
were contributing to the nagging beach postings.