The California Coastal Commission, out of an abundance of concern for the thriving marine ecosystems in and around Estero Bay, has conditioned the Cayucos Wastewater Treatment Plant’s ocean outfall permit by placing the term ‘exclusive’ within the permit’s wording. Nobody can come along later and use this permit to dump their own garbage, detritus, brine, sewage, effluent or selenium ag waste. Meanwhile, the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board (Region 3) has not yet written a letter of their own. There are many reasons why it would be wise to do so, and not a single reason I can think of not to.
In speaking to the CCRWQCB staff representative last week, I was assured that following the Coastal Commission’s lead in conditioning the Cayucos outfall permit could be done ‘later’ and ‘should it ever be needed.’ As Director of the California Ocean Outfall Group, I take vociferous exception to such a haphazard approach to coastal protection. My causes for concern include the Marine Protected Areas we now enjoy along our precious coastline. Point Estero State Marine Reserve, Morro Bay East Estuary State Marine Reserve, as well as other ‘no-take’ zones in the estuary. Estuaries are, as you know, the pantry of the sea, where food is made for the marine ecosystem. And State Marine Reserve’s serve as areas where the ocean environment is so well protected, the ocean -in only a few short years- already shows signs of making a comeback.
If the CCRWQCB fails to back the Coastal Commission on this one, they not only put the Marine Protected Areas of our coast at risk from threats like selenium-tainted agricultural waste that Westlands Water is still looking to dispose of off Morro Bay and Cayucos, but they will be betraying their own parent agency, the State Water Board.
Note to the CCRWQCB: it is long past time to get with the program. Ocean protection is important to us.
Joseph John Racano
Director, Ocean Outfall Group