Letter: What is the Value of the Ocean to Laguna?


Much of the City Council planning session last Saturday was focused on financial considerations. What, then, is the value of the ocean to Laguna’s economy, ecology and quality of life?

One metric we found from real estate experts is the value of the Greenbelt. A nature reserve is determined to add as much as 19% to a property’s value, and this benefit extends to the neighborhood and city. 

Using Surfonomics: Surfrider CEO Dr. Chad Nelsen researched “What’s the Value of a Wave?” and pioneered economics to determine the value of surf spots to their coastal economies. What is the value of Laguna’s Bluebelt and Marine Protected Areas to Laguna Beach’s economy? Is there a metric for the value added by being a coastal community? Does the ocean double the value of a property?

In addressing climate change, Laguna, as a coastal city, has a special role in recognizing the value of the local ocean to mitigate human-generated climate impacts. The ocean generates 50% of oxygen while absorbing 25% of atmospheric CO2.

The ocean can make or break a climate plan. If we ignore the ocean’s key role in absorbing atmospheric carbon, Laguna will miss our unique opportunity to make a meaningful difference.

What can be done? Let’s stop pretending our secondary sewage discharges amounting to half a billion gallons annually just 1.5 miles offshore are benign and magically “goes away.” Nothing goes away in nature.

Instead of dumping contaminates into the ocean, other communities are harvesting methane and even hydrogen fuel from wastewater. For example, as much as half of Laguna’s drinking water is generated from wastewater at the Orange County Sanitation and Water Districts in Fountain Valley, using methane from biosolids to power fuel cells filtering wastewater for reuse since 2012. The facility has filtered wastewater and produced over 400 trillion gallons of “new water,” supplying 60% of Laguna’s potable water otherwise destined for ocean discharge.

In Australia, solar power harvests hydrogen from wastewater and is stored for hydrogen fuel cells.

Laguna should be leading and be the first to adopt steps to repurpose our wasted wastewataer fouling ocean waters – the lungs of our community and the source of our wealth. But we seem to lack the education, wisdom and commitment to move ahead as we choose to conduct business as usual.

Why does Laguna remain the only South County city without hi-purity recycled water from wastewater for wildfire prevention & suppression? Why do we refuse to implement emerging know-how and technology to protect invaluable coastal waters and cherished marine life habitats? Who will lead and get the job done? How can those of us who love the ocean help?

Mike Beanan, Laguna Beach

Share this:
View Our User Comment Policy


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here