Michael Craig Smith, San Clemente
I am writing in response to a letter written by a concerned San Clemente citizen, which was published last November in the SC Times.
The writer questioned why San Clemente has spent over $1 million dollars for projects associated with improving the water quality at Poche Beach when it isn’t even located within the city’s boundaries.
He felt strongly the County of Orange and Dana Point should be responsible for cleaning up the Poche water quality instead of San Clemente.
It is because of this rationale that his concern seems very reasonable to him and maybe to other concerned San Clemente folks.
However, I have been actively involved in the Poche Beach problem for some time and have a different opinion. It is based on recent studies and information specifically contained in the December 2012 submittal of the Comprehensive Load Reduction Plan. This submission by the city, is in response to the San Diego Water Board’s Resolution to strategically reduce harmful bacteria and chemicals that exist in current high levels in two of San Clemente’s largest watersheds the Prima and Segunda Deschecha Canada channels.
While it is true that Poche’s runoff outfall is actually located in Dana Point along an Orange County Beach, the water in this runoff is practically all from land located within San Clemente, south from the ocean, north to the Deschecha landfill.
The Prima watershed drains the largest area in San Clemente, followed by the Segunda watershed, which outflows at North Beach. This outflow has some pollution, but for the most part it is not the major problem.
It is because of our stormwater runoff at Poche that San Clemente fully shares in the responsibility.
If there was no San Clemente storm water outflow at Poche, there would be no polluted scour pond, no seagulls living off the pond and, most importantly, no unsafe ocean water due to heavy localized pollution.
But unfortunately that is just not the case. Since we cause the problem, it is only reasonable that we help with the solution, and we are working at it. While the UV filter system is cleaning up a good portion of our runoff, there is a lot more to do to really fix the problem. And some of the recent attempts to deal with the birds have not worked. We need to find another solution that will. This solution will require working with many organizations including the county, the Water Quality Board and the California Coastal Commission, and our city should lead this process. And yes, it will cost us more down the road, but in the end, our most precious assets here in San Clemente, our beaches and ocean environment, will be saved and protected for all of us.
Let’s all do the right thing.