Regional water regulators crack down on violations in Malibu

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Regional water quality investigators say 39 Malibu businesses and public facilities are violating water quality standards. More on the story from KPCC's Molly Peterson.

Molly Peterson: Malibu became a city almost 18 years ago – in part to resist L.A. County plans for a sewage plant in the area. The city relies on septic tanks, and for most of its life, the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board has been ordering Malibu to clean up. The regional board's executive director, Tracy Egoscue, says a strike force of investigators logged the latest violations.

Tracy Egoscue We took a map, we looked at the county records. We saw who has building out there, we found commercial establishments that have no permit, and then we actually looked at monitoring reports and saw that there were chronic and really bad exceedances of not only permit requirements but water quality standards.

Peterson: Some businesses face sanctions now. Others have 90 days to respond to the board's direction to get their houses in order. Environmental groups have long alleged that bad septic practices are responsible for fecal coliform and other bacteria in Malibu beach waters. Egoscue says the size and array of violations indicate major problems with Malibu's strategy for managing sewage and wastewater.

Egoscue: It's something that has been obvious with exceedances and the poor report card grades at Surfrider Beach. And so the regional board is serious about cleaning this up. And this along with the prohibition the board voted for us to bring back to them are trying to do the job.

Peterson: Regional water managers will consider that proposed ban on any new septic systems around the Civic Center area of Malibu later this year.