Proposed Sewer Line Project Under Orange County, CA Park Creates Controversy

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In Orange County, CA, a recently approved sewer line project that will run beneath a regional park is facing opposition from local activists and environmentalists.

According to a March 23 LA Times article, officials say the $23-million project, which will install a 4,800-foot-long sewer line under Talbert Regional Park in Costa Mesa, is a necessity because it will protect against untreated sewage spilling onto city streets.

The Costa Mesa Sanitary District directors agreed that their decision would have an impact on the park’s ecosystem and the local environment, but announced plans to mitigate these negative effects.

Officials plan to plant native vegetation that would replace non-native plant species throughout the park, and said they intend to create a sound barrier that would, in theory, protect birds from the noise. The pipeline, which will most likely be buried between 12 and 24 inches below ground, should have no negative impact on the park once installation is complete, they said.

Yet activists maintain that the pipeline, which would stretch from a residential street in Newport Beach to a Huntington Beach wastewater treatment facility, doesn’t belong under a park.

 If installed, the pipeline would not only disrupt a key habitat for local wildlife, it would also take away a place where locals could escape from the outside, urbanized world, Nelson said.
If installed, the pipeline would not only disrupt a key habitat for local wildlife, it would also take away a place where locals could escape from the outside, urbanized world, Nelson said.

Local environmentalist Kevin Nelson, a resident of San Clemente who grew up in Costa Mesa, told the LA Times that Talbert, a 180-acre park known for its tranquil, secluded environment, could face irreparable changes if the pipeline goes forward. If installed, the pipeline would not only disrupt a key habitat for local wildlife, it would also take away a place where locals could escape from the outside, urbanized world, Nelson said.

“It’s one of those rare places — very rare places — that is wild and quiet,” Nelson said. “That’s its primary value.”

With the pipeline’s approval, Costa Mesa officials plan to hold public forums and meetings to educate locals on the reality of the Talbert project, according to the Costa Mesa Daily Pilot.

In the meantime, Nelson, along with former Costa Mesa Councilman Jay Humphrey, will continue to lobby against the project — and potentially even bring in outside agencies, such as the California Coastal Commission.

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