A pipe installed recently to divert storm runoff from Aliso Creek became clogged with grass Thursday, causing about 12,000 gallons of untreated water to back up and flow into the creek it was designed to protect.
"I'm furious," said Roger Von Butow, chairman of the Clean Water Now Coalition, an environmental consulting firm he describes as a watchdog of the south Orange County watershed. "I told them this system would fail, and now it has."
Von Butow said he had told local officials the pipe did not have adequate holding capacity.
Ken Montgomery, public works director for Laguna Niguel, said city workers expected to clear the pipe by the end of the day Thursday.
"Somebody must be dumping a lot of grass clippings into the gutter and hosing them into the storm drain system, because we just cleaned this strainer on Tuesday," he said. Ordinarily, Montgomery said, the strainer needs cleaning once every two months.