City responds to surprise proposal for Aliso Creek mainstem ecosystem

By BARBARA DIAMOND

The Army Corps of Engineers recently surprised Laguna residents and officials with an unexpected release of a proposal for the Aliso Creek Mainstem Ecosystem Restoration project, along with supporting feasibility and environmental impact reports.  

Opponents have only until Nov 28 to review and comment on the Corps’ 2,000-page draft feasibility and environmental reports. They asked the council Tuesday night for help in rejecting the proposal, which bears a similarity to a Corps recommendation almost a decade ago that was shelved due to community opposition.

“The Laguna Beach Bluebelt Coalition met last night and we have many concerns about the Corps restoration project, also known as “SUPER Project of 2008,” said Mike Beanan, speaking on behalf of the coalition.

It was not a compliment.

Aliso Creek

“We need the city council’s support and resources to respond to the draft EIR and to work with the community to present a better alternative,” said Beanan.

The council responded by appropriating $40,000 to obtain expert analysis and support to develop comments on the project and directed the city’s Water Quality Improvement Plan sub-committee to work with staff, consultants and interested community members to develop written comments in accordance with the National Environmental Protection Act. 

“We need to know who our possible allies are and we also need to know the effects on the Aliso Creek Treatment Plant,” said Councilman Bob Whalen. “We also need to get up to speed on the politics of this.”

In a summary submitted by Water Quality Director David Shissler, the council was advised that it will take an extraordinary effort to develop comments on the vast amount of information released by the Corps with such short notice. 

“I am sure the corps intends to do the right thing,” said Shissler. “They are just going about it in the wrong way.”

City comments will be developed to make clear the strong community support for an analysis that reflects the unique environmental interests of Laguna as the tail end of the 19-plus mile mainstem, which collects seven major tributaries---and their pollution--- on its way to the ocean.

The new Corps proposal ends at the treatment plant, ignoring impacts on coastal resources where the creek ends at Aliso Beach, Beanen told the council. 

He recommends modernizing the treatment plant and upgrading sewage facilities to protect Laguna’s ocean water quality.  

“We are at the end of the pipe,” said Mayor Toni Iseman. “This is an opportunity to make it safer.”

Comments may be mailed to Eduardo T. De Mesa, Chief, Planning Division, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Los Angeles District, ATTN. Deborah Lang, 915 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 930, Los Angeles Ca, 90017. 

Lamb can be reached by phone at (213) 452-3789 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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