Environment & Science

Septic system ban still a mudfight in Malibu

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Regional water regulators have approved a deal with the city of Malibu over its plans to get rid of septic tanks. Environment and surfing groups aren't happy about it.

The Regional Water Quality Control Board approved an agreement that modifies a regulatory plan it set in place last year. The idea was to ban septic tanks in the Malibu Civic Center area and in some residential neighborhoods around it.

The city threatened to sue over the breadth of the ban, and regulators and the city began to negotiate about how to get it done. The city of Malibu points to preliminary findings from a U.S. Geological Survey that suggest multiple sources of bacteria – including birds, and kelp stranded at high tide on the beach.

Before the vote, representatives of the Surfrider Foundation, Heal the Bay and Santa Monica Baykeeper argued against the deal. They say it won't do enough to clean up water quality issues in Malibu Creek, Malibu Lagoon and Surfrider Beach.

Malibu officials say they’re happy with the new plan, but environmental activists say they may appeal the regional board's decision to the State Water Resources Control Board.