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SURFING SOAPBOX: Dredging issue a splintered effort

Sadly, not much has changed in the eight years since I spoke at City Council. Well, at least the last time I remember speaking, and how could I forget that day?

That evening was being billed as the “endless bummer" "” a spoof of the once epic surf movie “the endless summer."

The council chambers were packed with surfers, beach lovers, NGOs and surf industry heavyweights, all converging at once because it was time to take a stand against the poor water quality on our beloved beaches of Laguna.

Eight years later, what has changed? Again I was speaking at council for the same reason, to discuss the issue of water quality at our beaches.


This time, however, it is over what is being called the “LA-3," an ocean dumpsite where toxic sediment is being dumped because of the Newport Back Bay dredging project.

Those in favor say the sediment isn’t toxic, but still refer to it as an ocean dumpsite.

With a plume of nearly two-thirds of a mile, I would estimate that these contaminates could be carried right into our marine reserve near Heisler Park "” being that on most days the dominant wind is northwest.

Isn’t a marine reserve to be protected?


There were three alternative dumpsites proposed but not accepted because of cost.

Those alternatives involved the dumpsites being farther out and directed away from Laguna Beach.

A subcommittee was selected to research this project more and look at other possibilities.

So far this, committee consists of two "” Councilmembers Jane Egly and Kelly Boyd "” with no mention of when this committee will begin researching this project or if they may add anyone to the committee.

What has changed in the eight years since I last spoke is that now in Laguna alone we have so many so-called groups that are supposedly out there protecting our ocean and watersheds. But where are they?

I haven’t seen or heard from these so-called groups regarding this topic: Surfrider, Help Blue Water, Village Laguna, Laguna Ocean Foundation "” the list goes on.

Perhaps we might be better served if we stop forming new groups and begin concentrating on working together.



JAMES PRIBRAM is a Laguna Beach native, professional surfer and founder of the Aloha School of Surfing. He can be reached at