EDITORIAL

It was no real surprise that environmentalist Bob Caustin's uncanny

string of legal victories against developers, cities and water districts

continued earlier this month. After all, he has made a career of being

David to a host of Goliaths.

His latest victory against the Irvine Co. and the city of Irvine stops

a 630-acre industrial development southeast of Jeffrey Road and north of

the Santa Ana Freeway. That may seem a far distance from Newport-Mesa and

our waters but, in truth, it isn't -- and that is precisely the reason we

should all be thankful for Caustin, who founded Defend the Bay to help

protect the Upper Newport Bay. It is easy to see small, direct spills or

sewage leaks, but difficult to track more insidious contamination of our

precious waters. Without Caustin's vigilance, potential problems such as

the soil and ground water contamination near this project could go

undetected or worse, unchallenged.

Caustin's legal victories -- recent ones include fighting the Irvine

Water Ranch District's proposal to convert the empty San Joaquin

Reservoir into a storage site for reclaimed water and his biggest dates

back to 1998 when he stopped a permit that would have allowed the water

district to discharge highly treated waste water into the Back Bay -- are

important victories for us all. For them, he deserves our sincerest

thanks.

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