Alton Cullen, San Clemente
Poche Beach, an Orange County facility, lies within the city limits of Dana Point, as verified by Dana Point and San Clemente city maps.
The City of San Clemente has expended over $1 million on water-related treatment from the Clean Ocean Fund at this county beach as follows: $500,000 for initial outlay, $280,000 for a watershed study, $226,420 for operations and maintenance, $9,000 for the falcon contract and $42,600 for city staff time.
A federal court recently ruled that the County of Los Angeles is responsible for pollution entering the ocean from a river regardless of the source. Seems the same is applicable here (for Orange County).
The report states that the water flow is not less than in a prior study. In addition to what’s listed above, an undetermined amount has been subsidized for smart controllers and sprinkler heads in the watershed without apparently diminishing the runoff from irrigation. Is runoff the source of the flow or is it the county landfill that is accepting more trash, including that of San Diego?
Why has San Clemente expended taxpayer dollars on a project that lies within the boundaries of Dana Point and the water flows through an Orange County flood control channel? City Council approval was not obtained for all expenditures.
San Clemente commissioned a $280,000 watershed study, as I was informed, because of the runoff from residential development into the city. However, the study did not adequately identify the water flow sources. In addition, the study was flawed in that they did not do a random sampling, nor did they test an area extending from the mouth of Prima Deshecha Canada channel in each direction for any distance. They further stated it appeared that seagulls were the main source of the bacteria counts. Never did they specifically state that was the source.
Major scientific studies have found that gull bacteria does not contribute to human illness. This is what should be important, as we all know that some bacteria are good and some bad. Examples of good bacteria are those that eat the oil from oil spills or digest the product in our sewer plant. Our bodies contain more than 100 trillion good bacteria, which are necessary for us to survive.
Gull bacteria should be separated out and not counted in the total bacteria levels, which I understand Orange County has the ability to do, but does not for reporting purposes.
Heal the Bay will no longer list Poche Beach as being in San Clemente. That will erase negative reporting related to our city.
Isn’t it time to allocate our expenditures only within San Clemente and demand that gull bacteria be excluded in the total counts, since it does not contribute to human illness? Let’s have the jurisdictions that should be involved, Dana Point and Orange County, take the necessary actions to deal with Poche Beach issues.