San Clemente : Dana Point Sewage Plan Dropped by City Council

A proposal to reduce the treatment of sewage discharged into the ocean off Dana Point was dropped by the San Clemente City Council after environmentalists argued that the plan would pose a health hazard to swimmers.

San Clemente had supported the plan, intended as an alternative to sewage rate increases, as a member of the South East Regional Reclamation Authority, which also includes San Juan Capistrano, Dana Point, Capistrano Beach and the Santa Margarita and Moulton Niguel water districts. Only the two districts and San Juan Capistrano are still pursuing the idea.

The City Council voted unanimously to withdraw its support after receiving a letter from Newport Beach environmentalist Dr. John Skinner, who cited a recent EPA study linking gastrointestinal illnesses with swimming in water polluted by human waste.

Each of the six agencies use their own treatment plants or the SERRA plant in Dana Point, but the combined effluent is all discharged from the Dana Point outfall. City manager John Hendrickson said the reduced treatment is consistent with state standards and would cut out a secondary process and impose increased monitoring of the waste after preliminary treatment.


“We could reduce the level of treatment to an acceptable public health level,” he said. “But that raised concerns with a lot of people who saw it as a denigration of standards.”

Skinner said he will take his fight to the San Juan Capistrano City Council next. He is also slated to discuss the issue at the Dana Point Sanitary District’s board meeting on Wednesday.