Sanitation District ruling a victory

Despite some significant opposition from inland cities in Orange

County, last week’s decision by the Orange County Sanitation District

to provide stronger treatment of waste that is pumped into waters off

the Santa Ana River mouth is a victory for everyone living and


playing in the county.

Now, instead of 240-million gallons of partially-treated sewage

waste being sent miles off the shore, millions more gallons will get

full treatment.


And over the months and years, those millions will multiply until,

by nearly all accounts, there will be much less chance of beach

closures near where the district’s outfall pipe empties four miles

out to sea. It means less chance that a summer could be ruined. It

means less chance that the so-called plume of sewage from the outfall

pipe could creep back toward the coast and drift toward Laguna Beach.

A year ago, the outcome of this vote was just about unimaginable.

It is unlikely that it ever would have occurred without the hard


work of environmental activists who refused to be ignored. They

hammered away at city and county leaders to make it clear that ending

the waiver and partial treatment was a necessity.

They also won the important media war and managed to get their

voices to the public via newspapers and television stations. The

result was a swing of public opinion against the waiver. Those

activists on the front lines of this fight deserve thanks.

Applause also is due to officials in the county’s coastal cities,


including here in Laguna Beach, for getting involved in the battle

against the waiver, the status quo and the sanitation district.

Without their efforts, it seems likely the pressure of consensus

would have built up enough to force this vote. Laguna Beach

officials, often attacked by local and area environmentalists, should

note that they can do the right thing and be successful when it comes

to siding with the “greens” of the community.

Yes, the treatment will cost more, and that money will come from

county taxpayers’ pockets. But the estimated $16 a year price tag per

person is a bargain to ensure the beaches and waters are open, safe

and clean.