Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Laguna Creek

Laguna Beach: Laguna CreekTides:
03:19 AM 0.44 feet Low Tide
06:53 AM Sunrise
09:21 AM 4.93 feet High Tide
03:31 PM 0.07 feet Low Tide
07:04 PM Sunset
09:41 PM 5.04 feet High Tide


  1. Steve S.12:02 PM

    To those locals and visitors whom have fondly enjoyed the quaint and rather small Laguna Beach "lighthouse" over the years(located in the upper right hand corner of John's photo above)might be interested to know that this "lighthouse" actually served as a "sewer vent" for the City's old sewer plant located roughly where the parking lot sits right now. Here's more details on Laguna Beach's little lighthouse

    Sorry Roger E. B., The "cats out of the bag" now. :-)

  2. Roger E. Bütow Clean Water Now!7:07 AM

    Dang, someone who actually reads, is informed and is not asleep at the wheel.
    Good research on your part.
    Personally, I find John's picture amusing as a water quality/hydrology consultant. The building is adjacent to the channelized Laguna Canyon Creek....And you can't make up irony like this: Both were sources of incredibly significant pollution back in the day. Now only one does, but this shot has its own story embedded in it.
    The antiquated, inadequate and abandoned treatment plant shown is no longer functional because our wastewater goes south to the Coastal Treatment Plant in Aliso Creek Canyon. Activists took care of that. Formerly, back in the 70's, partially treated sewage was (GASP!) puked out just offshore at Main Beach.
    Yet that Laguna watercourse remains as a chronic contaminator, carries an increasing amount of urban runoff due to increased impervious surfaces upstream.
    As the Laguna Flood Task Force revealed, no one (not CalTrans, not the Irvine Co., not Laguna Woods et al) ever mitigated development by either creating or enlarging detention basins to allow low flow runoff to percolate into the ground instead of drooling crap into the creek bed---Topping (overflows) then migrate it to downtown.
    The same basins could have facilitated the attenuation (lessening) of peak flood events by retaining some of the flows, including coarse debris removal that clogs storm drain intakes.
    The NGO I founded, Clean Water Now! did make a dent in the pollution reduction aspect: We convinced Cal/EPA to lower the boom and forced CalTrans (via a Cleanup & Abatement Order back in the early 2000's) to spend $3 million over a 3 year period improving the BMP conditions, reducing pollutants from the entire length of the San Joaquin Corridor. The basins couldn't be enlarged only upgraded because now everything is already installed, no room was set aside.
    CalTrans is one of the most egregious and chronic violators of Clean Water Act regs in California, but it's almost impossible to get anyone to hold them accountable. They refuse to attend watershed meetings though a very significant stakeholder/landholder. They just bolt the doors and put their fingers in their ears at their desks unless sanctioned, they are a fiefdom and law unto themselves.
    Go look at the storm drain intakes along PCH----those filthy and clogged intakes are CalTrans responsibility, almost never get thoroughly cleaned out. Due to my group's activism, the City now cleans ours out twice per year (Fall & Spring). Plus we forced the city into increasing street sweeping.
    And don't bother calling CalTrans up----They are busy checking out their benefit packages or getting coffee.

  3. Steve S.9:59 AM

    Hi Roger,

    I can remember when the Aliso Treatment Plant was being finished up back in, I think 1966-67. This was not too long after they had installed a roughly 2 mile long "sewer tunnel" that went along the ocean cliffs from Three Arch Bay to South Laguna and eventually to the upstream Aliso Sewage Plant. I believe it was soon after the Aliso Sewage Plant was in service that Laguna had tied into this system and had abandoned the one on Laguna Creek by the City Hall? Let me know if I'm wrong on this, I was pretty young at the time.

    It's too bad the Laguna area did not utilize its existing marshes within the Aliso Creek Canyon to institute a better system of biological wastewater ponds that can treat water more naturally before being let loose into the coastline's sea water. It may not too late to get this in process, but I admit I am ignorant of what it would take beyond quite a bit of money.

    In the area that I'm living in now, which is near the city of Arcata in Northern California, they have such a thing and it has attracted attention from around the World as a "model" for clean waste methods.

    Arcata Wastewater Treatment Plant & Marsh"

    "News About Marsh

    Cal Trans, like all big State and Government agencies, does what it wants and does not usually succumb to individual people and groups with little clout.

    As long as the public is willing to live with "beach closures" from hepatitis A and other toxins, along with poisoning and detritus overload in the creeks and reef systems along the Pacific Coast and elsewhere, little will happen. If the public only really new, this issue really doesn’t belong in the “political arena”, but should be dealt with as a scientific fact that crosses all politics and effects economics as well. There is an interest for everyone here.

    Thanks Roger for the history in more detail, and I appreciate all you do in keeping up with the "good fight"! It does not go unnoticed!

    Steve S.

  4. Anonymous4:26 PM

    Holy Moses, a sewer vent! I never knew. I just thought it was some eccentric's little landmark.

  5. Roger E. Bütow Clean Water Now!6:06 PM

    The gases have a tendency to rise during the daylight (heat from solar gain/sunlight/daily warming and well, not to be indelicate but fecal matter has self-heating thermal properties like a compost heap)....I live in Victoria Beach and the crest of the hill near McCauley & PCH reeks from the manhole cover vents in the early morning hours. So that little lighthouse was up high enough to pull up/draw the gases and then disperse them. Folks up on that hill must have been upwind of the stench, such lucky folks.

    Google SOCWA Coastal Treatment Plant----I think that plant didn't go 100% online until the 70s. The pipe still puking only secondary treated wastewater at around 20+ million gallons per day is called the Aliso Creek Ocean Outfall. There's probably some online documentation that reflects the history more accurately. It barfs the crapola out only 1.2 miles and in 125 feet of water----Cal/EPA should have made them put it out 3 miles like the others in OC, it would be safer for beachgoers.
    Arcata, by the way, was ground zero for a novel, innovative lawsuit brought by SURFRIDER Foundation (SF) consulting attorney Mark Massara way back when. I think it was pulp paper mills polluting the streams via contaminated discharges?
    Mark made a lot of $$$ on that litigation representing SF, but I think the SF got pissed that he received the lion's share. Me? I think that he deserved big bucks for such a Clean Water act precedent.
    He then went on to working for the Sierra Club for many years, moved on again a few years back to another NGO. That wasn't before he made sure that LBCC Toni Iseman didn't get re-appointed to the Cal Coastal Commission. Mark (as a SC rep) & his cronies at the SF teamed up to block her. She got very low ecological ratings by enviros, never read anything/did her homework and became developer friendly to projects outside of Laguna. She voted for the rape of the Dana Point Headlands, then had the developer Sanford Edwards & his buddies over to her house the night after the vote!
    As you're pointing out, knowing the historical context/perspective, the nuances and back room complexities is important.

  6. Steve S.2:05 PM


    Thanks for the additional historical information! I see that some of the Coastal Treatment Plant (SOCWA) dates back to 1950 and the expansion was (at least started) in 1967 and in 1972(as you correctly stated) Aliso Water Management Agency (AWMA) was formed with the consolidation of City of Laguna Beach, Emerald Bay Services District and the El Toro, Los Alisos, Moulton Niguel and South Coast water districts.

    After viewing and reading the website, in particular viewing the slide presentation on the">SOCWA's Historical webpage", one would have the impression that all is well with Aliso Creek and the outfall to the ocean.

    I see a pain membership with "NACWA- Peak Performance Awards" has its benefits; "SOCWA was honored in 2007 with the National Association of Clean Water Agencies’ Platinum Peak Performance Award for five consecutive years of 100 percent compliance at the Aliso Creek Ocean Outfall."

    BTW, the last one of three pulp mills has shut down just 3 years ago, leaving the Humboldt Bay layered in dioxins. These ran out of compliance with the water quality board waivers based on promises year after year, until pulp hit rock bottom on the market with the bad economy. Never mind thou, we are on the mend with our farm raised oysters that are busily gobbling up the remnant toxins, anyone coming up for the annual">“Oyster Festival” ?

  7. Anonymous7:16 PM

    How tallbis that little light house sewer vent?