treated waste water it releases into the ocean each day.
"The Costa Mesa sanitary board is of the opinion that based on the
information available to date, full secondary treatment is the best
available option," said board member Arlene Schafer, who also is a former
Costa Mesa mayor. "It allows for better opportunities for recycling
Schafer and fellow board member Jim Ferryman both said they still
weren't convinced that the district's sewage plume is returning to shore
to contaminate the surf zone.
A $5.1-million water-quality survey commissioned by the sanitation
district and completed last summer pointed to several "on shore" sources
-- leaking beach restrooms, runoff channels and possibly the AES power
plant -- as contributing causes to the nagging postings on local beaches.
Ferryman said he agreed with that study's finding that the plume's
role in the contamination was inconclusive.
Environmentalists -- led by the Ocean Outfall Group -- and city
leaders in Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Costa Mesa have pointed to
the plume as a probable source of polluted waters.
Ferryman also said he would not support the sanitation district's bid
to extend a federal waiver that allows the partially treated sewage to
flow into the sea without meeting standards laid out in the Clean Water
Act of 1972.
"It's not the Ocean Outfall lies [that I believe]," said Ferryman, who
also holds a seat on the Newport-Mesa Unified School District Board of
Trustees. "Based on the scientific evidence, I would have voted to not
apply for the waiver."
Huntington Beach environmentalist Doug Korthof, a founder of the
outfall group, took exception to Ferryman's comment.
"Everybody acknowledges that some bacteria [from the plume] comes to
the shore," Korthof said. "The debate is about what concentrations and is
Both Ferryman and Schafer said county sanitary officials should
implement the new treatment now before the cost rises, as the agency has
set a goal to eventually divert 200 million gallons a day to be treated
and used as reclaimed water.
County sanitation officials have joined hands with the Orange County
Water District on the project. District board members have pledged to
divert 70 million gallons to be used as reclaimed water by 2006.
Newport Beach Mayor Tod Ridgeway and Huntington Beach Mayor Debbie
Cook have both said they do not support extending the federal waiver,
which was first granted in the 1980s.
County sanitary board members -- a group that includes Ferryman,
Ridgeway and Cook -- are set to decide July 17 whether to pursue a waiver
extension and a treatment method.
* Paul Clinton is a reporter with Times Community News. He may be
reached at (949) 764-4330 or by e-mail ato7 firstname.lastname@example.org