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Dolphin deaths

The Pacific Marine Mammal Center has declared recent dolphin deaths and strandings “drastic and unexpected” yet new City Council priorities omit mention of any plans to improve local ocean water quality.

According to recent research by Nick Pyenson and others, many massive historical whale and dolphin strandings were likely caused by Harmful Algae Blooms (HABs). As Laguna Beach continues to discharge secondary sewage offshore, we are feeding more future HABs during routine ocean upwelling events.

New legislation (SB 332 - Hertzberg) will eventually prohibit ocean discharges. Laguna Beach should step up now and rehab the 50-year-old, deteriorating Coastal Treatment Plant and “upcycle” all wasted wastewater. The Aliso Creek Ocean Outfall discharges 10 million gallons of secondary sewage each day (over 1 billion gallons every 3 years) just 1.5 miles offshore. Laguna’s share of these discharges is 1.67 million gallons per day, according to SOCWA billing statements. Laguna Beach remains the only South County city without recycled water capable of reducing ocean discharges while increasing local water reliability for wildfire prevention and suppression.

Informed leaders must take action before more dolphins die and humans suffer illnesses from ocean water toxins. A massive HAB event in Laguna Beach will also kill the economy.

Growing up in California, we were trained, for safety sake, to never turn your back to the ocean. Let’s not turn our back on the ocean now when we have the chance to improve ocean water quality with smarter, sustainable wastewater management.

Mike Beanan

Laguna Beach