ORANGE COUNTY — Seeking to end a long-running battle over plans to dump highly treated waste water into Upper Newport Bay, the Irvine Ranch Water District has come up with a plan it says will send dramatically less water into the bay.
But a lawyer for the environmental group that has been fighting the district's plans said that dumping any reclaimed water into the bay violates a judge's order.
"The bottom line is, we don't think reclaimed water belongs in the bay," said Mark Wolfe, attorney for Defend the Bay. "The judge agreed."
Ken Thompson, the district's director of water quality, disagreed with Wolfe's interpretation and said the judge, in a ruling issued in October, had only stopped the original plan to dump up to 900 million gallons a year of highly treated sewage into the bay.
Although the district believes the judge was wrong and that it could win an appeal, it instead is offering a new plan in hope of mollifying opponents.
The new plan, Thompson said, is more flexible and depends on rainfall. In a wet year, the district could dump up to 100 million gallons of the treated water into the bay. In a dry year, like this year, no water would be dumped.