EDITORS NOTE: In June, 2009, the EARTHRACE was renamed the ADY GIL and joined Captain Paul Watson and Sea Shepherd Society in their bold quest to end Japanese whaling in World Park Antarctica. During a violent confrontation, the Ady Gil was shorn apart by the aggressor, a much larger vessel named by the Japanese law breakers the Shonan Maru. No lives were lost (except the poor whales) and Captain Watson's Sea Shepherd Society has filed piracy on the high seas charges against the Japanese whalers in a Netherlands Court. The ADY GIL, formerly EARTHRACE, valued by Watson at 1.5 Million dollars, now lies on the ocean bottom near Commonwealth Bay. In the past few years, these escalating oceanic confrontations have saved literally hundreds of whales and have become a huge hit on TV's Animal Planet. Join Sea Shepherd at: www.seashepherd.org
Long live the whales!
Below: Sewage in New Marine Protected Areas ____________________________________________________
As is often the case, those who would dump on Mother Ocean do it in the world's most beautiful places. In this photo is the volcanic plug at Morro Bay, California. This was the scene when we first arrived in town to oppose the 301h sewage waiver being used by Morro Bay and Cayucos to dump up to five million gallons a day- with less than secondary treatment. Coincidentally, this is also the epicenter of deaths and epidemic of the Southern Sea Otter. We set up a tour of the wastewater treatment plant and invited the locals along. The San Luis Obispo Coast Keeper (Gordon Hensley) refused to join us. Next: the Morro Bay tour..
Touring Morro Bay Wastewater Plant
When we announced to the Morro Bay City Council that we were in town to stop their waiver, they laughed and asked us how we were going to do it. We told them we were going to tour their wastewater plant, and the public was invited to join us.
It turned out to be a highly successful event. Representatives from from environmental groups from all over Central California attended, asking questions of staff, and it got lots of press. It showed that the people cared about the sewage and the Sea Otters, and that we were willing to be engaged in the process.
This tour was the first of a series of steps that led to a multi-million dollar sewage treatment plant upgrade that is still in progress today for the Morro Bay-Cayucos wastewater treatment plant, home of the Otters!
In the days leading up to the tour of Morro Bay wastewater Treatment Plant, I suggested everyone bring along a clipboard to take notes and look intimidating. ") People choose their words carefully when you're taking notes! We had elected officials from three cities, along with members of C.A.P.E. (Citizens Against Power Plant Expansion), Noah Smukler from San Luis Bay Surfrider (now on Morro Bay City Council himself), members of the Ocean Outfall group (my guys), the National Estuary Program (Had no choice but to go or look bad- now works for Simpson Timber who is clear cutting the redwoods), Mandy Davis from Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (went through two antarctic whale wars!), along with journalists and regular citizens. In the end, we brought the heat with aewsome backup from NRDC (Natural Resource Defense Council), especially David Beckman and Anjali Jaiswal. Just recently, Morro Bay and Cayucos tried to get out of it all, and the California Coastal Commission voted for us and against them. This is what happens when the enviro groups have integrity. Next, we'll show you what happens when they don't. ---------------------------------------------------------
Surfrider San Diego Tries to Ruin Our Tour
As we fought sewage dumping up and down the coast, we always heard one recurring theme: "When are you going to do something about San Diego?" When upgrades were done or in progress in Orange County, Morro Bay, and other beautiful coastal areas, we loaded up the 'OOG' mobile (OOG= Ocean Outfall Group), had a few suits dr...y cleaned, printed up 10,000 STOP THE WAIVER bumper stickers, and headed for San Diego! We took our case for a clean ocean directly to the people, speaking to them on TV at every San Diego City Council meeting. We explained that the city of San Diego was the last holdout to sewage treatment level upgrades. The city countered by telling us that their local environmental groups had given their blessing to dumping over 300 million gallons a day of poorly treated sewage in return for money to do studies on recycling (!). I suggested that they didn't have the authority to 'make deals' around the federal Clean Water Act, and that San Diego should make plans to go to full secondary treatment. I arranged for a public tour of the Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant, and once again, invited the public along. I got very little cooperation, especially from San Diego Surfrider Foundation, who did come to the treatment plant, but continually hurried me up on the tour and tried to stop me from asking questions. And no one was happy when I started taking pictures- (on the second tour, no cameras were permitted!). Well anyway, it all started innocently enough- here's the beginning of that fateful tour!------------------------------------------------
Touring Point Loma
With the City of San Diego pouring between 170 - 330 million gallons a day (a total of 50 BILLION gallons every year!) of less than secondary treated sewage into the ocean off Point Loma, we scheduled a tour and headed there from the KOA campground in Chula Vista
Time was running short and for the life of me, I couldn't pull it up on MapQuest or on the GPS for some reason. At one point, we saw a sign that said 'Point Loma wastewater plant' and followed it. Well, it turned out to be a fake! Yes, they actually have a small, clean, easy-to-get-to decoy plant!
The real plant, as it turned out, was hidden on a Naval Submarine Base, and that's why it doesn't show on Mapquest or your GPS! When we finally did find it, we were stopped by guards, who questioned us, and I nuetralized them by taking their picture! The head guard pointed to the top of a pole to show me there was a camera up there, we took a picture of that too!
Imagine our surprise when we came to another sign, this one saying, 'Cabrillo National Monument'. These filthy dumpers are dumping into one of the most beautiful places on Earth, and into our National Monument!
Next: Into the bowels of Point Loma!
Confronting San Diego City Council
There is nothing quite so satisfying as walking into a town that thinks it is above the law and stepping up to the podium and excersizing your right to free speech by calling them on their deep dark dirty deeds.
In this case, it was the city of San Diego using a sewage 'waiver' that no other municipality in California s...till has, to dump more and dirtier sewage than any other municipality in the United States.
These waivers were first issued as a 5-year temporary emergency measure to help municipalities ease into compliance with the Clean Water Act. But that was 35 years ago! Now, these outlaws just keep dumping and dumping and keep using their political connections to get 'one more 5 year waiver' after another.
But this time, we were going to stop them. We were going to force them into compliance with the same laws everyone else has to follow, laws designed to protect the public health as well as the health of the ocean, fisheries, and recreational pastimes. But the mayor was a very powerful opponent of upgrading sewage treatment.
In a very close election, he used a friendly judge and a technicality to 'beat' Donna Frye, wife of super-surfer Skip Frye. Donna had run for office specifically tr clean up the water for the surfers. Meanwhile, Mayor Sanders and his dirty water crew, including Coastal Commissioner Ben Hueso, always called in political favors from phony environmentalists like Arnold Schwarzenegger.
In this photo, I am addressing the council and challenging them to clean up their act, Ben Hueso sulking on the right.
Next: On Point at Point Loma!
Wastewater or Blackwater?
As we travelled throughout the Point Loma wastewater Treatment Plant, we got to see giant sewage tanks giant chemical tanks, giant powerful machines for pumping, and most of all the giant pipe that dumps it all into the sea. But we also saw giant people! Some of these guys were huge. Try tellin...g me that guy on the right is a wastewater engineer- no way!
Anyway, there were giant tanks that held ten million gallons each, and all they did was hold sewage for an hour or so, let the big peices of human fecal debris sink to the bottom and then they pour from the top into the ocean! That's what 'primary' treated sewage is, a mere two hour settling operation. Why? So San Diego can save money. They (the city of San Diego) paid two million dollars to San Diego Surfrider Foundation and San Diego CoastKeeper, who promised in return not to oppose yet another 5-year sewage waiver!
What was the money for? It is rumored the money is so they can do a 'study' on recycling of the sewage. But if that is true, then why spend 2 million dollars to 'study recycling' at the same time San Diego is spending a BILLION building a seawater desalination plant? I mean, which one do you think they're serious about, the 2 million dollar study or the BILLION dollar desalination plant? Hmm.
Surfrider San Diego's got some 'splainin' to do!
Facebook: Ocean Defender Hawaii
Next: The frightening machines that run the place!
Surprising Mayor Jerry 'Sewage' Sanders
As with all battles for the Earth and Ocean, the San Diego Sewage Waiver battle became -and remains- a battle in the arena of public relations. And these battles will be tried not in corrupt courts with judges appointed who knows who. It all comes down to the court of public opinion. And people understand that issues s...uch as sewage dumping are NOT 'complex'. You are either for dumping that crap in the water or you aren't- period.
In this case, our team went straight to the source- San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders. Mayor Sanders stood right in front of the California Coastal Commission and refused to budge an inch on sewage treatment, and he even went as far as to say that when surfrider's 2 million dollar 'study' on recycling came back, that he wouldn't abide by any of it's recommendations!
What's a poor, shy Ocean Defender to do? We went right after him on his own home turf, that's what! Here is a classic shot of us 'takin' it to 'em' on the steps of the San Diego's La Jolla Public Library, where he was giving some blathering and smarmy speech about conserving water (while at the same time supporting rampant out-of-control development that will require yet more water!).
~Schwarzenegger & Regional Water Board Hold Prison-Polluter Accountable~
In the midst of a global storm of political and environmental upheaval, Arnold Schwarzenegger and his Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board have upheld the sanctity of California's new series of Marine Protected Areas. Facing decisive enforcement action by a Regional Water Board energized by the newly implemented Marine Life Protection Act, the California Men's Colony Prison -despite tough talk- relented and agreed to pay a large fine for a January 27th spill that dumped thousands of gallons of raw sewage into San Luis Obispo's Chorro Creek. Though the creek is several miles upstream from the sea, it runs directly into the Morro Bay Estuary, recently annointed a State Marine Reserve by the California Fish & Game Commission. Designed to restore traditional fishing grounds to health, Marine Protected Areas are in their final process of being created, and prosecution of CMC State Prison, long known as a chronic polluter, not only sets an all-important precedent throughout the State of California, but also sends a strong message to would-be polluters of the California Coast. *In a separate action, a second precedent was then set at the Sept. 5th meeting of the same Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board when they voted unanimously to reject a setlement offer brokered by their own staff and the prison for multiple Chlorine discharges, also into Chorro Creek, saying (for the first time anywhere by a regulatory Agency) that Chlorine in the aquatic environment poses special dangers. They directed staff to re-negotiate with the troubled prison and return with a stiffer penalty.
EDITORS NOTE: Arnold Schwarzeneggers office was lobbied long and hard by the California Ocean Outfall Group, making this precedent-setting victory possible. Arnold and his Resources Agency Secretary Mike Crissman (who also Chair's the Ocean Protection Council) rarely if ever protect the ocean or environment on their own. Recently, these two worked together to overturn a California Coastal Commission decision that would have stopped San Diego from dumping 50 Billion Gallons of poorly treated sewage a year into the ocean at Point Loma. Arnold is no friend of the environment. See the story on the ESM blog, entitled, 'The Politics of Pollution'.
-joey racano, Editor, EarthSourceMedia
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~Raiders of the Lost Coast~
by Joey Racano