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Keeping ocean clean goes beyond duck roundup

September 20, 2002

Tod Ridgeway

Newport Beach got a bit of attention when city crews and others

nabbed 60 ducks from the Grand Canal ("Ducks -- ducks -- vamoose,"

Aug. 23). The relocation effort brought chuckles from even the most

hard-core clean water supporters among us -- because we know that

duck droppings contribute to poor water quality, but we also know how

silly grown men look when chasing down ducks.

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Duck roundups -- while being visible and attention grabbing -- are

a very small part of Newport Beach's overall clean water effort. We

were proud to be one of the first cities that opposed the Orange

County Sanitation District's continued discharge of partially treated

sewage into the ocean outfall. Here in town, the city will spend more

than $4 million this year alone on programs that attempt to clean up

the bay and the ocean shoreline.

As an important reminder, Newport Bay is one of the most

intensively tested waterways in the state. Each week, the health

department samples 35 sites around the bay. In addition, the

sanitation district and the health department sample another 20 ocean

sites from Crystal Cove to the Santa Ana River.

Where a sample exceeds state standards for bacterial indicators,

we "post" the area to advise swimmers of the bacteria. Of the 55

sampling locations, only four have chronic problems with bacteria --

the bay waters around Newport Island and, oddly, Harbor Patrol Beach

off Bayside Drive.

That's pretty good news when you think about it -- the vast

majority of bay beaches, and all of our ocean beaches, get top marks

for water quality. As such, we have allocated our time and resources

to maintaining the good water quality we see and to improving those

areas that get poor marks. Here are the ways we do this using Newport

Beach tax dollars:

* Keeping roads clean. You may not know it, but effective street

sweeping and trash removal are some of the best tools to improve

water quality. We sweep streets daily in commercial areas and weekly

in residential areas. It's vitally important that you move your car

in advance of street sweeping day, because the trash (especially

cigarette butts), sediment, oil, pet waste and brake dust that the

sweeper misses ends up in the bay and ocean. Street sweeping is

expensive (about $500,000 annually) -- and we're one of only a

handful of cities that sweeps streets daily and weekly. Some inland

cities are still on a twice-monthly schedule.

* Keeping storm drains clean. Those openings in the gutter (with

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