Re "Beach Pollution Source Eludes Scientists Despite Careful Study," May 16:
It is not surprising that the source of beach pollution in Huntington Beach is still elusive. After spending $5 million on scientific studies, the source of bacteria on the beach is still not known. One reason is that, last summer, scientists were supposed to be testing the AES power plant's role in drawing sewage from the Orange County Sanitation District's outfall pipe back toward the shore. The AES plant, though, was largely idle during the study, so $5million went down the drain. Why did the sanitation district carry on this study when it knew the power plant was not fully operational? Was this a wise use of $5 million in taxpayer money?
Re "Study Finds No Single Source of '99 Huntington Coast Pollution," May 17:
The Orange County Sanitation District now proudly claims that its latest study found no evidence that the daily release of about 240 million gallons of partially treated waste water has any connection to the problem.
Adding insult to injury, the district has amassed a considerable cash reserve while warning residents that it will be costly to treat effluent to standards set by the Clean Water Act. The district has abrogated its responsibility to provide the county a solution to ocean pollution. The district is hiding behind studies to avoid doing today what it will have to do in the future. Every day the district delays taking action to increase the level of water treatment, the price of the eventual solution increases.
I want the district to design the most effective sewage treatment plant that will create a sustainable solution that will maintain clean ocean water and beaches for future generations. Let them then come to the people and ask for the funding. What matters most is that we protect our coastline so that people and marine life will have a clean ocean.
Getting a grip on events at the Orange County Sanitation District takes a lot of digging. The district maintains a staff of three to deflect attention and cast the issues in terms that steer away from troublesome areas.
All of the sanitation district's ocean studies are directed toward one purpose: protecting the district's ability to use the ocean to dispose of sewage solids. To do this, the studies are aimed at trying to identify onshore sources of sewage pollution.
I read with distress Christopher Evans' suggestion that Orange County Sanitation District funding could lead to invalidating the recent Huntington Beach contamination study. A scientific career is a lifetime commitment to objective and impartial research. Any falsification or mishandling of data could ruin a scientist's career.
The $5million provided by the district to study transport of the outfall plume may sound like a lot of money, but a great deal of that goes to instrumentation, paying for a ship and 24-hour water sampling. An individual scientist receives only a few months' salary, maybe a year at most.
Scientists love what they do, and it would be absurd to jeopardize a career for a single project. Scientific ethics are not for sale.
Marine Science Institute,
UC Santa Barbara
After a three-hour report from the scientific panel that has been studying the ocean off Huntington Beach and Newport Beach, we learned that they could not say whether the sewage discharge affected the beach. After spending $5 million, we still do not have a definitive study. We do know, however, that Orange County Sanitation District is at odds with the Clean Water Act.
The district should have begun giving secondary treatment to sewage 17 years ago, but the board continues to fight it. The district sends 240 million gallons of sewage into our ocean every day. I strongly urge the district's board members to provide at least secondary treatment for all sewage that goes into the ocean, and not to fall prey to district management's bullheaded policies and its strange notion of science.
I am writing to express my outrage over the fact that the taxpayers paid $5 million to watch grown men float grapefruits off the coast of Huntington Beach--and not come to a conclusion on what is causing the pollution. The ocean in that area contains 200 billion gallons of seawater. It doesn't take a scientist to realize that the pollution problem isn't linked to a toilet, a trailer park full of toilets or a storm drain. We do have a 6-foot diameter pipe that pumps 240 million gallons of human waste a day into the ocean.
Please fix the sewage treatment plant and quit wasting my money.
One newspaper article led with the line that the "plume is innocent." The reporter listened to the same scientific testimony that I did, but arrived at a different conclusion. The only people who have ever insisted that the plume is innocent are Orange County Sanitation District employees.