Mark Harris, San Clemente

I was glad to see San Clemente Times providing coverage of the ongoing problem with high bacteria levels in the water at the Pier. Arriving at the beach to a sign that reads “Warning, Water Contact May Cause Illness” doesn’t seem very welcoming (or healthy). I can’t imagine it’s good for our local economy, either.

Many residents have been concerned about this issue and are frustrated that more hasn’t been done after almost four years.

I am disappointed in the city’s plan to do yet another study of fecal levels (with the same focus on bird deterrents) since all of this work was done in 2018 and the city has already acknowledged that it did not work.

There were always plenty of birds at the Pier, yet for years our water quality at the Pier was consistently graded A+. This bacteria problem appeared suddenly and has remained even during dry season.

I was sent a city statement in July 2017 saying fecal tests ruled out “sewage or canine” sources. That statement suggested birds as the culprit and mentioned Poche Beach, but the Pier has no similar area of stagnant water.

The city completed its bird-deterrent efforts (funded by the Clean Ocean Program) at the Pier in May 2018 and replied to me by saying, “The pigeons were recently rehomed and netting was put up under the Pier to prevent further nesting.” They replied to me again in August by saying, “The netting installation was completed and has been successful in keeping birds from under the Pier…Unfortunately, the water quality problem continues.”

The bird deterrents kept the birds away but did not reduce bacteria levels. Given this definitive conclusion, why is the city’s plan to do the same exact thing again? And why is the process taking years?

I hope more residents will ask the city to make this a bigger priority. Adding a committee to meet four times a year to make “suggestions” doesn’t sound like a very aggressive approach. Isn’t it time to think outside the box and find a solution to this problem?

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