While transportation picks up steam, environmentalists hope to maintain momentum gained from 1990, the year of the environment.
Progress will be made in the continuing effort to clean up the county’s polluted but valuable ground-water basin. The Orange County Water District will open five state-of-the-art treatment plants in 1991 to remove chemicals from the water basin and produce about 8 million gallons a day of drinkable water. Most of the contamination came from old agricultural runoff or industrial solvent spills.
The year should also bring long-awaited regulations that would require sewage plants and dairy farms that discharge into the Santa Ana River to build treatment plants. The river is a main source of the county’s ground water.
Any business leaders who are dumping toxic waste illegally may find 1991 a good year to straighten up. The district attorney’s office is mounting a crackdown on the crime, which has been increasing because of the cost and difficulty that Southern California companies face when disposing of waste legally.
About a dozen more Orange County cities will jump on the recycling bandwagon next year and implement programs that encourage residents to sort their bottles, papers and cans.
“Residential recycling of some sort will be going on in almost every city next year,” said Jan Goss, Orange County’s recycling manager. “A lot of cities have programs in planning stages now and will be implementing them soon.”
Local conservationists anticipate some fierce battles in 1991 as they try to protect the oak groves, coastal sage scrub and other rapidly vanishing wildlife habitats in Gypsum Canyon, Coal Canyon and the southeastern canyons of Orange County.
They promise to fight some new developments more vocally and actively than ever, saying they will resort to lawsuits if necessary.
“Orange County’s not a lost cause yet,” said Esther Burkett, the state Department of Fish and Game’s wildlife biologist for Orange County. “But we have to slow down (development) right now. If we pursue this pace for the next 10 years, then it is a lost cause.”