MALIBU — City officials here can move forward with the construction of a new park that will also serve as a water treatment facility following a court ruling Tuesday which dismissed a pair of lawsuits filed by Santa Monica Baykeeper.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Thomas I. McKnew, a designated expert judge in environmental quality law, denied the environmental watchdog’s claim that Malibu removed a critical component of the project without allowing the public to comment.

Santa Monica Baykeeper said the Legacy Park project does not address one of Malibu’s most serious water quality issues — the disposal and treatment of sewage generated in the Civic Center area — and therefore fails to meet state water quality standards.

Malibu does not have a proper sewer system, instead relying on septic tanks, some of which are leaking, and storm drainage pipes.

The Legacy Park project, which will capture storm water and urban runoff so it can be cleaned, disinfected and recycled, helping protect Santa Monica Bay, is under construction, with completion planned for October 2010.

The Legacy Park Project is the centerpiece of City Hall’s more than $50 million commitment to clean water in Malibu Creek, Malibu Lagoon and Surfrider Beach.

The judge also dismissed Baykeeper’s suit challenging the city’s approval of the environmental impact report for the nearby La Paz development, where the city hopes to locate a waste water treatment plant.

“The court’s rulings are significant victories for Legacy Park, for the environment and for the city of Malibu’s programs to improve ocean water quality,” said Malibu Mayor Sharon Barovsky. “The judge clearly rejected the ill-advised and counter-productive lawsuits filed by Baykeeper, the lone organization to try to block important projects that will accomplish the goals we all share — improving ocean water quality.”

The park project has won significant support from organizations and political leaders, including the Annenberg Foundation, Santa Monica College, U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Los Angeles), State Sen. Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills) and State Assemblymember Julia Brownley (D-Santa Monica).

“It is very unfortunate that the city had a $5 million grant approved by the State Water Board for the project, but because of the ill-timed lawsuit, the state funds ran out before the issues could be resolved,” said Malibu City Manager Jim Thorsen.

In addition to Legacy Park and other stormwater projects, the city of Malibu is preparing plans for a centralized wastewater system for its Civic Center area, authorizing $2.6 million in January 2009 for design and engineering and has broken ground on the stormwater treatment facility at Paradise Cove, the third stormwater disinfection facility in Malibu, city officials said.

Representatives with Santa Monica Baykeeper could not be reached for comment.

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