Aliso Creek Since the first orange groves were established on Aliso Creek it has been chronically polluted with dangerous contaminants. The Creek runs westbound from the Santa Ana Mountains in South Orange County to the Pacific Ocean where it empties its contents at Aliso Creek State Beach in Laguna Beach. The pollution has escalated with the rapid urban development along the creek and its many tributaries.
These pollutants have caused much harm to beachgoers, marine and aquatic life, and to the tourism industry of the communities that stretch the coastline. In the summers of 1999 and 2000, a half mile of Hunnington Beach, which lies North of Laguna Beach, was closed due to dangerously high bacteria counts in the water. The beach closure crippled the tourism of the fabled ?Surf City?. Similar problems are destined for Laguna Beach and the other communities near these river mouths. Beach closures are a common occurance in Laguna Beach and Dana Point to the South. Most frequent surfers will tell you of becoming ill at one time or another from the beach.
The pollution of the creek has been substantially escalating with every year of new development along the thirty-four square mile area that Aliso Creek drains. In the past ten years the population of the endangered tidewater goby, which used to inhabit the Aliso Creek mouth have disappeared. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has expressed hope that new cleaning methods could once again provide a habitat for the exiled creatures.
The State orders these beach closures when bacteria levels reach a certain unhealthful point. The most prominent and dangerous bacteria in the Aliso Creek waterway is fecal coliform. How the fecal coliform gets there is still under much debate. Frequent sewage spills from the archaic sewage system of Laguna Beach may be the contributor, while others argue that its urban run-off in storm drains from the municipalities that are upstream from the coast. In both situations the exact travel of the pathogens is unknown.
In 1987 the Water Quality Act was passed, which held municipalities responsible for pollution of their stormdrains, and forced violators to be fined up to $1000 a day. This act also had ?No Dumping, Drains to the Ocean? stenciled on 28,000 stormdrains across the county. It also required monitoring of bacteria levels on most of the counties waterways, harbors and beaches.
These changes did little to solve the problem, but rather monitor it. So in March of 1999 the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board issued a cleanup abatement order to seven cities upstream from the creek mouth. They were required to determine the...