Water Woes in Southern Orange County – Residents Cry!

Water, water everywhere and no drops to drink

—Samuel Taylor Coleridge

While the Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner recounts the misfortunes of a sailor and suggests that despite being surrounded by something you cannot benefit from it, the story of ocean desalination suggests the same. The Doheny Ocean desalination plant proposed by the South Coast Water District in southern Orange County is a prime example of this conundrum.

Every day in the district served by the South Coast Water District (Dana Point, South Laguna and the areas of San Clemente and San Juan Capistrano), there are millions of gallons of drinking water, aka gold, that run down gutters into storm drains or puddles. at crossroads. The water district service vehicles will also be seen splashing through these large puddles at intersections, but interestingly they never slow down to watch where the water is flowing from or do any type of investigation into this chronic runoff that is happening 24/7. /365 in their neighborhood. Moreover, little is done to truly educate customers on water conservation because after all it is their right to use and/or waste as much water as they wish since they pay for it. price.

Here is a small example of total waste of drinking water

The photo above was taken recently during a 35-40 mph wind in Santa Ana during a hot spell. Multiply that by the hundreds of customers in the South Coast Water District who feel it is their right to waste water and run it as long as they want until it runs down the street. Do they even know that the water supply is scarce or do they see everyone doing this and taking it for granted that we are surrounded by water? While the water utility claims to have special meters to monitor this type of waste, you have to think that it might be too lucrative to put a stop to this senseless waste – why look at meter data?

However, even with all of this highly visible drinking water surrounding these communities on one green lawn after another, the South Coast Water District advises its clientele that there will be no ‘drinking drop’ unless they sue. the construction, at great cost, of a very expensive ocean desalination plant. The scarcity of water cannot be discussed, but what can be argued is why, with all the drinking water that is allowed to flow through the streets of the neighborhood and into the storm drains, we need an ocean desalination plant. Apparently, the concept of conservation completely eluded the South Coast Water District and its board, and eluded them for several decades. We know this because we have been watching and crying out for solutions for decades. We have enlisted the help of city water quality departments, the regional council and the EPA, but simply put, the South Coast Water District does not accept responsibility for monitoring water waste. drinking water for its customers.

The South Coast Water District repeatedly informs in its presentations and board meetings that it has made substantial investments in conservation, reclaimed water and groundwater reclamation. However, they currently depend on 85 to 100 percent of their water supply from imported sources. Many studies conclude that up to 50% of water demand can be met with local recycled water, which would reduce reliance on imported sources. Combine that with conservation and wouldn’t the problem be solved? Why are simple solutions ignored? Could it be that simple solutions just aren’t cost-effective enough?

As proposed, the Project will increase the salinity of wastewater discharges and volumes to regulated coastal receiving waters frequented by migrating whales as well as dolphins and other marine species. The increased releases from the San Juan Ocean Outfall (SJOO) will expand the plume of the waste field to degrade larger areas and represent a “rollback” as far as the NPDES permit is concerned. This begs the question: will the proposed Doheny project create toxic brine pools offshore where whales migrate? These deadly brine pools exist elsewhere in our oceans and because this salty “brine” is much denser than regular seawater, it does not mix with the rest of the ocean but rather pools on the seafloor. lakes and sometimes even rivers.

This cetacean mapping graphic illustrates the Project’s relationship to brine water discharges and federally protected marine life, as well as the potential migration of the plume from the Doheny Project waste fields into the coastal waters of South Laguna .

Mapping courtesy of Lei Lani Stelle, Ph.D., Professor, Head of Department of Biology, University of Redlands

A more suitable alternative might be to dry the effluent and export it to an off-site location where, being chemically inert, it could do little harm. Camp Pendleton in San Clemente, for example, uses solar ponds to dry up salt water.

It seems that if we contaminate the ocean near the water intake with sewage effluent from San Juan Capistrano, Dana Point and Laguna Beach, then we are harvesting polluted water to not only remove contaminants from this effluent, including viruses and pharmaceuticals, but also the extra salts and natural chemicals that make ocean water undrinkable. While the recycled water from Aliso Canyon, for example, has far fewer contaminants to dispose of because it is much purer than the effluent they currently discharge. The prohibition against implementing on-tap toilets is not satisfied in this ocean desalination proposal because with all the discharges, the ocean only becomes a conduit to return toilet effluent to the domestic water system.

These are just a few of the challenges of this proposed project, but the unknown impacts are too numerous to list. With that in mind, let’s look at some alternatives.

Number one, of course, is No Project.

Enhanced preservation is at the top of the list.

Immediately after conservation is Enhanced Recycled Water.

As a resident of South Laguna for nearly 40 years, I must comment on the customer and ratepayer inclusion that is completely lacking for those of us who live in South Laguna because we don’t have a vote and don’t haven’t had a vote or voice for several decades. There are so many risks involved in a project of this size taken on by a small water district, but South Laguna customers must follow suit – whatever the risks – whatever the cost. This is really the definition of “taxation without representation”.

While many may be able to find a common thread to grasp in support of this desalination project, stating that “it’s not as bad as filling the void”, there is absolutely no reason to support desalination oceans when water suppliers have not begun to “dip into” the alternatives available to them. It is time to put aside greed and profit and think about what is best for our planet and Mother Ocean. End the Proposed Doheny Ocean Desalination Project – NOW!

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