Environmental Press # 54

Subj: OOG: Fwd: Letter to the LA Times
Date: Sun, 7 Jul 2002 9:17:32 PM Eastern Daylight Time
From: Jon V3
To: Jon V3

Dear Ocean Outfall Group (OOG), dedicated to ending the 301(h) waiver held by the Orange County Sanitation District (OCSD):

Letters To The Editor to the LA Times are needed in response to Dr. Stanley Grant's Op-Ed piece in the LA Times today. See: Runoff Is Far Greater Threat to Coast Than Sewage Plume . In this article, Dr. Grant is implying that full secondary treatment of sewage is not needed, and that money for full secondary treatment should be used for a downpayment on urban runoff. Urban runoff is definitely a problem, and agencies are taking steps to control it. That should not mean that the sewage plume should be ignored or that the OCSD should not step up its level of treatment or that OCSD should keep its waiver. Please send a Letter To The Editor today, and address it to: ocletters@latimes.com. See Sample Letter by Dennis Baker below. Thanks. Jan Vandersloot (949) 548-6326

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Subj: FYI Letter to the times
Date: Sun, 7 Jul 2002 14:03:20 -0700
From: "Dennis Baker" <bakerdj@mindspring.com>
To: "Vandersloot, Jan" <JonV3@aol.com>

Re: “Runoff Is Far Greater Threat to Coast Than Sewage Plume” by Dr. Stanley Grant, July 7, 2002

Dr. Grant implies in his July 7 op-ed, “Runoff Is Far Greater Threat to Coast Than Sewage Plume”, that the rancor surrounding the Orange County Sanitation District (OCSD) is only about type of treatment (“full secondary treatment”). The issue brought before OCSD and city councils throughout the service area has always been about the continued use by OCSD of the 301(h) waiver to avoid fully meeting the standards set forth in the Clean Water Act. To replace standards with a treatment process, “full secondary treatment”, Dr. Grant misleads and implies they are synonymous, which they are not. If OCSD applies for a permit without using the 301(h) waiver, they will still have options and can use various combinations of treatment available now and in the future to meet the Clean Water Act standards.

I agree with Dr. Grant that runoff is a major contributor to overall deterioration of the water quality in the ocean. This doesn’t mean we should ignore a known large source of contaminates such as the OCSD outfall. It also doesn’t mean we should allow OCSD to continue using the waiver to do business as usual. Up until February of this year OCSD was telling everyone that all was safe, healthy and no problem, until the “plume came too close for comfort” off of Newport Beach. Suddenly disinfection was needed to protect the beaches.

In his June 1 commentary in the Times, “Marine Life Withers Under a Wave of Human-Caused Diseases”, Osha Gray Davidson states “This overabundance of nutrients--and the introduction of human sewage in some places--plays a critical role in the marine metademic.” Excessive nutrient discharge is part of what is allowed under OCSD’s 301(h) waiver. Davidson also states, “We're turning our coast into a giant petri dish, a pathogen-friendly environment in which microbes flourish at the expense of sea life.” Grant also refers to a “great experiment” to exempt the plume as the cause of the beach closures. I for one don’t want to experiment using the ocean as a “giant petri dish”.

At the July 17 OCSD board meeting, the directors should get rid of the waiver as part of the next permit request. The method of treatment can then be determined within the parameters of the federal Clean Water Act and limits and requirements of the state laws governing water quality. Millions of dollars have already been taken from treatment to try and show that the plume didn’t close the beaches in ’99. Taking more money from the treatment of the sewage to fund more investigation is foolish. Funding for “coastal water quality science” should be made available, but not by robbing Peter to pay Paul. Dr. Grant should look elsewhere for his funding.

Dennis Bake

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