Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times | Terms of Service | Privacy Policy

South Coast Water District Fails the Ecological Test

“SCWD: The Gang That Couldn’t Get Its Facts Straight.”

Someone once spoke of three (3) types of prevarications: Lies, damnable lies and statistics.

I would like to correct several items that reflect South Coast Water District’s insidious, duplicitous invocation of all 3:

SCWD activities in this matter should lessen their ratepayers confidence in such a self-inflicted fiasco. This gang couldn’t get much of anything right and only have themselves to blame. If they truly believe that there was a “discrepancy” as voiced by their Public Relations employee Linda Homscheid then the fault lies, the burden of proof rests with, the applicant not the State.


Once SCWD attorney and administrator Ms. Betty Burnett affixed her signature to the initial application for 89 acre feet per annum (afa), she tried to retroactively correct it by crossing out “89" and writing over it 890 afa but claims she forgot to correct the acreage total that this increased amount would irrigate. This is quite humorous, considering she’s an attorney for a water district who signs under penalty of perjury that ALL information is true to the best of her recollection and/or knowledge. What else are these people at SCWD getting wrong?

Next, hello? The instructions are very explicit: Applicants MUST provide specifics about location coordinates and placement, including any information that might be pertinent to the position of the actual stream flow removal.

It just so happens that in spite of repeated attempts by protesters over a 2 year timeframe to let SCWD know that the Point of Diversion (POD) is inside of a County Wilderness Park, NOT Laguna Beach, SCWD refused to change several critical supporting documents, including their own Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND) that said “Laguna Beach, CA.”.

I personally sent, and received an email response back from LB Community Development Director John Montgomery confirming it. I forwarded it to SCWD but they never corrected themselves. Ms. Homscheid fudged: The treatment facility is on SOCWA property, but the POD is inside a County Park that is committed to protecting its communities (plural) natural resources, as in Hello? Which part of streambed don’t you get?


Same for the actually agreed upon amount requested that SCWD claims was a misunderstanding: SCWD screwed up, that’s their problem not the State’s.

Ignorant commentators keep asserting that ALL of the drainage in Aliso Creek is “abandoned urban runoff.” Call Ms. Cathy Nowak or any of the other OC Parks top planners and you’ll find that many (CWN!C included) believe it to be more like 50% runoff and 50% natural drainage. I demanded that SCWD use a new water separation test that determines actual percentages of runoff vs. natural, I learned about this from our own most excellent Senior Water Quality Analyst, Will Holoman. SCWD refused to perform this test, staying the course of unprovable, propagandistic “abandoned” notions.

Last, as for Ms. Homscheid’s statement claiming that no documentation of Southern steelhead presence exists, I guess that SCWD General Manager Mike Dunbar and several of his long term Board members slept through the first 6 years of monthly Aliso Creek Watershed meetings where steelhead were discussed, then 6 more years of quarterly ones that also featured steelhead comments.

Oh, and they must not have read the two (2) main exhaustive, very precise studies we used as our Old and New Testaments: The 1997 US Army Corps of Engineer Aliso Creek Watershed Study and the USEPA Water Quality Study for Aliso dated October, 2000. Both had innumerable mentions of the historical steelhead presence in Aliso, its migration terminating up around Leisure World (Moulton and Alicia Parkways).

It was in fact these two study resources that had significant USFWS input, with their legitimacy and overwhelming evidence, that I relied upon heavily to convince NOAA (National Marine Fisheries Service) to declare Aliso a part of the “So Cal Distinct Population Segment” (DPS habitat) for steelhead in February of 2009.

Adding to our frustration were repeated attempts by SLCA Michael Beanan and Jinger Wallace to convince NOAA that steelhead never ran there, and that they should rescind that DPS acknowledgment. So much too for SLCA and Village Laguna claims that they are biologically sensitive, strident environmental protectionists. They have stupidly chosen human needs over those optimal restoration conditions necessary to recoloniize this native Endangered Species.