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Agency Takes Aim at Boaters' Sewage

Pump-out stations will be added in Huntington Harbour, Newport Bay in bid to curb pollution.

August 23, 2003|Dan Weikel | Times Staff Writer

To help prevent the release of raw sewage into Newport Bay and Huntington Harbour, state water quality officials on Friday approved eight more pump-out stations so boaters can flush waste from their holding tanks.

Five stations are planned for Newport Bay and the rest for Huntington Harbour. Those coastal waterways have been plagued by pollution from urban runoff, high bacteria levels and the illegal discharge of sewage by errant boaters.

In its decision, the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board requested further studies to determine the best and most convenient locations for boaters and for residents who might view them as nuisances.

Board members noted that additional pump-out stations were recommended by the state in 1998, but the facilities were never built. Meanwhile, existing stations have deteriorated, particularly in Huntington Harbour, where three of four often don't work.

"We need to remedy this situation," said Fred Ameri, vice chairman of the regional board. "We need more pump-out stations. This should have been done five years ago."

The additions will bring the number of pump-out stations to 17 in Newport Bay and seven in Huntington Harbor. The facilities allow boaters to pump their waste from holding tanks into the county sewer system.

In addition to pump-out facilities, the board approved six more dump stations, three for each waterway. Dump stations are facilities that accept waste from portable toilets carried on vessels.

Water quality officials say the new facilities should help improve water quality in both areas, which have been listed under federal regulations as impaired waterways due to bacterial contamination. Discharges of sewage are illegal in the bay and harbor.

"These improvements are very important," Randy Fuhrman of the Huntington Harbour Homeowner's Assn. told the regional board. "Sometimes a little nudge is needed to get something done. You have provided that nudge."

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