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
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