Compromise plan at water board brings sewers to some of Malibu

Regional water officials have approved a partial ban on septic systems in Malibu after city leaders worked out a compromise.

Surfers have long blamed septic tanks for pollution and bacteria in the Malibu watershed. Regulators at the L.A. regional water quality control board proposed allowing no new systems and ending septic systems entirely in a wide swath of the city.

That regulation would have also extended into adjacent Los Angeles County lands. But the city of Malibu objected that the wastewater treatment plant it would have to build would require costly assessments.

Malibu officials threatened to sue the board if it passed the full ban. The plan regulators approved instead ends at Malibu's city line, and doesn't include Winter Canyon. It phases out septic tanks in a smaller area, and allows homeowners to keep septic systems and recycle or disinfect water on some properties.

Malibu can then build a smaller, less costly treatment facility. Water quality chair Mary Ann Lutz said she hoped the compromise plan would be like lemonade made out of what once seemed like a bushel of lemons.

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