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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

Blame Activists for Sewage-Fee Increase

June 29, 2003

Politics is the reason the Orange County Sanitation District needs to increase the sewage fees. Last year's board of directors voted for complete disinfection and full secondary treatment of the daily treated wastewater discharged into the ocean. These actions will increase the 10-year capital improvement program by $600 million and the annual operating expenses by $7 million.

Community activists lobbied the politicians for more than two years, testifying for more than 30 hours. The self-proclaimed environmentalists blamed the district's ocean discharge pipe for the beach closures in the summers of 1999 and 2000 in Huntington Beach.

The district investigated these claims. Seven million dollars was spent on multiple comprehensive beach and ocean studies. The U.S. Geological Survey headed the primary investigation. After a thorough analysis of millions of data points, these scientists' independent conclusion was there was no link between district operations and beach closures.

The problem occurred with politicians yielding to community activists and thereby lacking the courage to say the waste-water discharge was clean enough.

Russell Patterson

Past member, OCSD Board of Directors

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