A hint from a lawyer-reader: could a gigantic, community-wide septic tank catastrophe be in Stinson Beach’s future?

The Seadrift Gated Community at play in the artificial lagoon a short stroll from the oceanfront part of the complex

Stinson’s Seadrift gated community at play in the artificial lagoon a short stroll from the oceanfront segment of the complex

Another view from the gated enclave, looking onto Bolinas Lagoon: should that sign actually say, ‘DANGER: FRAGILE SEPTIC SYSTEMS’?

Another view from inside the privileged enclave, looking onto Bolinas Lagoon: should that sign actually say, ‘DANGER: FRAGILE SEPTIC SYSTEMS’?

Of course there are constructive lawyers as well as the threatening and time-wasting kinds we have met in the fallout from our septic tank disasters in a spot on the California coast. Welcome proof came by email one day from a reader we do not know, whom Google revealed as a newly-minted young attorney with a dazzling academic record spanning two continents. He opened our eyes to a possibility that inspired research that led us to this grim prediction by the U.S. Geological Survey, related to global warming:

Changes in climate and sea level will drive changes to the coastal groundwater system that will impact both human populations and coastal ecosystems.  Increases in sea-level will raise the fresh water table in many coastal regions.  Impacts to humans may include an increase in the potential for basement or septic system failure.

As the globe grows hotter and the consequences include more smelly sewage disasters in coastal towns trusting property-owners to maintain personal sewage-disposal systems, could anyone doubt that switching to a communal sewer – as Malibu did – is the only responsible option?

We count this among the best of many encouraging reactions from readers of this blog – including those outraged by an implausible, woefully ill-advised attempt to justify lax septic-tank management:

Stinson sewer

Inbox

x

Hello,  I found your blog online.  I was wondering if you had any information on the following (or perhaps wanted to do a blog entry on the topic).  If a sewer system were installed in Stinson Beach could it also serve as a “water management system” to help in the (increasingly likely) event of sea level rise.  I am not an expert (at all) but I thought it might be worth some research and if it is the case it would seem to create an even stronger argument for installation of a sewer system.

Thanks!

_______

Re: Stinson sewer

Hello _______,

What an interesting question … and certainly one that should be presented to the citizens of Stinson Beach.

The higher the water table, the less suitable the soil is for septic systems, judging by what I’ve read so far — which makes sense. Assuming that global warming continues unchecked, Stinson Beach will be submerged some day, but in the run up to that, residents will presumably experience septic failure more frequently, unless some technological innovation I can’t imagine comes to the rescue.

So yes, yours is another excellent argument for a public sewer system, and I will indeed mention it in a future blog entry.

Do you want to be quoted, and if so, do you want me to say whether you live in coastal California?

Scriba

Re: Stinson sewer

Inbox

x

Thanks for the note.  No need to quote me.  I am just curious (and somewhat private) but am concerned about Stinson Beach in times of sea level rise and hope the County sees fit to look into this.

Thanks!

_______

This correspondent is the sort of lawyer we hope to see reforming the practice of law in the future – especially for the specific cost-savings suggested in our last entry.

297 Seadrift Road -- roughly in the middle -- from the other side of the manmade lagoon

297 Seadrift Road — roughly in the middle — from the other side of the man-made lagoon

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