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LESS RECYCLED WATER TO FLOW INTO CREEK.

Byline: Sonia Giordani Daily News Staff Writer

The Las Virgenes Municipal Water District was issued a more restrictive permit Monday regulating when it could discharge recycled water into Malibu Creek.

The new permit, adopted unanimously by the California Regional Water Quality Control Board after more than 50 people spoke on the issue, prohibits the water district from discharging from the Tapia Water Reclamation Facility in the creek for a six-month period between May and November.

Additionally, the permit stipulates an additional 61 new limits for pollutants and nutrients, including nitrate, in the water put into Malibu Creek from Tapia.

With the facility's permit up for renewal, residents and representatives of environmental agencies tried to persuade the board to keep Tapia water out of Malibu Creek, claiming that the water floods the lagoon, causes it to back up into Malibu's septic tanks and causes contaminated water to spill into the ocean.

``Tapia could be discharging Evian water and it would still have an impact,'' said Mark Gold, executive director of Heal the Bay, a Santa Monica-based environmental group. ``The discharge causes the lagoon to fill up more frequently than it does naturally.''

For more than 13 years, the recycled waters of the Las Virgenes Municipal Water District have flowed through Malibu Creek and into Malibu Lagoon, carrying controversy throughout the environmental community.

``In general, we believe the impacts from Tapia have been overstated and that the additional requirements are unnecessary,'' said Norm Buehring, director of resource conservation and public outreach for the water district.

However, Buehring said the district would accept the conditions of the permit and continue studies into the impact of the Tapia facility on Malibu Creek and on the entire 109-acre Malibu Watershed.

The National Marine Fisheries Service joined the water district in defending discharge from the Tapia Water Reclamation Facility, noting that the recycled water has helped sustain such endangered species as the tidewater goby and the steelhead trout in Malibu Creek and Lagoon and helps dilute the turbid waters of the lagoon.

``We have a concern and the basis for that concern is that the steelhead trout are there. This is an endangered species at risk of extinction,'' said Anthony Spina of the National Marine Fisheries Service.

Further study of the impact of Tapia discharge on the trout is expected to continue. Spina said the service may be pressed to pursue a federal lawsuit if the reports prove that limiting discharge into the creek affects the populations of the two endangered species.

But more than a dozen speakers representing various environmental groups in the area maintained that even if Tapia's water quality meets federal and state requirements, the quantity of flow causes the lagoon waters to back up into adjacent septic tanks and then to spill into the ocean waters.

Jeff Harris, a Malibu resident and physician in the area, said he has visited countless surfers and swimmers suffering from ear and sinus infections, vomiting and other illnesses after swimming in area beaches.

Shortly before 5 p.m., the board voted to adopt the permit, which will take effect in 1998. The board agreed to reopen the permit in three years.
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Copyright 1997, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

 
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Nov 4, 1997
Words:525
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