"We met the criteria in 2006, but the state ran out of time and decided to just blow us off and wait until 2008 to remove us. It was very disappointing after the city had worked so hard to meet all the deadlines and standards."
City Manager Ken Frank has submitted a letter, approved by the City Council at the May 1 meeting, outlining the city's position. Frank said the city should not have to wait until 2008 to be removed from the list, when it already has successfully implemented a plan to reduce the amount of pollutants that may be discharged into an impaired body of water while still meeting water quality standards.
"The ocean-water quality along the coast of the City of Laguna Beach represents a success story in the bacteria reduction effort in Southern California," Frank wrote.
Frank's letter goes on to state that "the public can enjoy more than seven miles of pristine beaches without the worry of elevated bacteria levels."
"Pristine," in this instance, is an aesthetic evaluation rather than an ecological one, according to Shissler.
"In comparison to most of the coast, our beaches are 'pristine,' " Shissler said. "Our position is that it makes no sense for us to have to spend money on expensive [duplicate] testing, when there are other areas we should be putting money into — like the SUPER Plan [for Aliso Creek].
"That doesn't mean testing will ever stop in Laguna."
The Stabilization, Utility Protection and Environmental Restoration project for Aliso Creek, which is the poster child for pollution, has federal, county, state and Laguna Beach support, but is not yet funded.
City officials also think it is counterproductive to be required to apply water-quality standards for shell fish harvesting in areas that don't seem to match shell fish environments. (This has nothing to do with fishing)
Frank further advised the regional board staff that the city is concerned about what he termed the "seemingly open-ended commitment" implied in the proposed Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL) for indicator bacteria — the component of the board's "Basin Plan," which Frank's letter addressed.
"The final TMDL should provide provisions for dischargers who meet the goals of the program to be exempted from the requirements of the program." Frank wrote.
[We] feel that future efforts and funding commitments should be made in areas where bacteria is a significant problem rather than areas where goals have been met."