As Gulf Coast residents suffer from their loss of beaches and bays, residents of Newport can enjoy their water and sand for exactly the same reason – oil.
For 30 years the city of Newport Beach has been operating its own oil wells on Banning Ranch. All of the revenue from crude and natural gas goes straight to the city's coffers, into a fund for beach and bay maintenance.
And it's not a small amount – in 2009 the city sold $1.8 million worth of black gold. That's a serious chunk at a time when the city was facing a $12 million budget deficit.
"It helps out in this economy. It's kind of a neat thing that we have," said George Murdoch, utilities director for the city.
Murdoch's department operates the 16 wells through an outside contractor, Gardena-based Sampson Oil. Renick Sampson monitors the wells daily to make sure they're pumping smoothly.