Perhaps the CIA is giving me doses of LSD at night, causing severe and frightening flashbacks. That's all I can think of to account for what I read in the amazing opinion piece by Linda Stedjee ("Morro Bay's issues are serious," Nov. 22). The normally even-keeled Stedjee (whom I've often read, never met) came down hard on the Shredder for not doing serious research before writing on the issue of Morro Bay sewage discharge and the effect it has on the marine environment ("Trouble right here in Morro Bay," Nov. 15).
Well, I'm here to tell you, Linda, it is you who seem to have been hoodwinked on the issue. And from the sound of it, your "research" amounted to digging up very old propaganda developed by the Orange County Sanitation District just prior to the massive "waiver wars" of Orange County in the early 2000s. During the bruising 14-month battle to force the OCSD to give up their 301(h) sewage waiver—which they finally did, at a July 17, 2002, Orange County Sanitation District JPA (Joint Powers Agency) meeting—they used some of the hundreds of millions of dollars they were supposed to be using on sewage treatment to print up glossy fold-out presentations ridiculously postulating (as you have in your silly opinion piece) that an outfall pipe dumping fecal debris could somehow evolve into an artificial reef. Imagine my chagrin at seeing that old ghost rise from the dead of my past! I thought we had beaten such ignorance down!
The way I originally refuted such a stupid notion was to tell the board that, "If it really is true, and these outfall pipes are good for the ocean, then why don't we build more of them, perhaps one right beneath the Huntington Beach Pier?" Around that time, the beaches were still closed from high bacteria counts discovered on the Fourth of July in 1999. My group, Ocean Outfall Group (which is still active), first put forth that idea and it was eventually what made Orange County go from "worst to first," and it's now a world model for wastewater sustainability and water replenishment.
I could go on to refute all of your ideas, such as when you said the current Morro Bay Wastewater Plant doesn't hurt the marine environment (just wait till the heavy rains and raw sewage overwhelm the plant, built in close proximity to the bay on purpose, to use the bay as an emergency overflow), but what's the use? Your mind is already made up, and I don't want to confuse you with the facts. Your next lesson should probably be on how dangerous it is for the Morro Bay plant to use shortcuts to bypass full secondary treatment. That causes a process called "encapsulation," where the pathogens stay alive inside a crust of disinfectant and fester in the environment for 10 months!
Please apologize to Shredder. Δ
Joey Racano is the director of the Ocean Outfall Group and he resides in Los Osos. Send a response for publication to firstname.lastname@example.org.