(This letter was also addressed to the City Council.)
As much as $10 million will be available in state grants for local urban runoff and water reliability projects and Laguna can benefit if we have a talented grant writer assigned to secure some of these funds. Laguna cannot be green wasting expensive, imported potable water for irrigation and fire prevention.
With the recent fire in South Laguna the need for perimeter recycled water for fire prevention and suppression becomes more evident. As you know, I love animals but on a global level goat, sheep and cattle grazing have destroyed watersheds from Greece to Laguna Beach. Striping our steep hillsides in South Laguna of globally endangered southern maritime chaparral is a recipe for increased ocean pollution including soil deposits in tidepools and fecal runoff. The replacement of healthy fog-feeding native trees and chaparral with highly flammable grasses only increases fire threats. Loss of native vegetation also reduces carbon sequestration among dense, healthy plant communities.
Laguna can visit surrounding cities to see the effectiveness of perimeter recycled water fire suppression systems. Driving Crown Valley Parkway reveals dense forest and plant cover without threat of fire due to a comprehensive network of unlimited supplies of recycled water. This dual water system doubles the amount of water available for fire events and recycled water can be applied long before a fire arrives. Re-development grants are available to install a citywide recycled water system. The city of San Clemente received around $12 million to improve their recycled water system with a design provided by a Laguna Beach EIR firm.
How do we wake up Laguna to the perils of goat-grazing on steep hillsides which increases stormwater runoff to the ocean, destroys world class native habitat and actually aggravates fire hazards in an endless cycle of wasted funds and wisdom? Recycled water to protect first responder facilities like Mission Hospital and neighborhoods seeking fire and habitat protections should be a priority item for candidate discussions in this election season.
What can I do to mobilize an intelligent discussion to advance smart recycled water use and fire protection here in Laguna? Studies by the Irvine Ranch Water District confirm the cost to create local “new water” is half the expense of importing water.