Thursday, March 13, 2003
Water War Peace Talk At CSUMB
Senator Bruce McPherson will host a panel discussion about the future of the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District Thursday, March 13, from 7-9pm, in the University Center Ballroom, Building 29, at CSUMB.
Panel members include McPherson, Monterey Mayor Dan Albert, Water Board Chair Zan Henson, County Supervisor Dave Potter, Cal-Am VP Steve Leonard, Monterey County Commercial Property Owners' Darryl Kenyon, the Sierra Club's Gillian Taylor and Monterey County Hospitality Association's Bob McKenzie.
Assemblyman John Laird was invited but will not be able to attend. He'll be in Sacramento.
Last month, McPherson drafted a bill to dissolve the water district. However, McPherson has not yet released any details of his proposal. The current legislation, SB 149, is only a placeholder bill.
"Last year, the voters demanded a change to the MPWMD," McPherson says. "As their elected representative, I have convened this water town hall meeting to explore the best options for reforming it. After hearing from the experts and the public, I will determine how to proceed with my bill."
How McPherson proceeds will likely determine whether local citizens have a voice--and a vote--in any future water supply project and hot much Peninsula residents will pay for water rates.
Anti-Cruise-Ship PT Boat Not Yet Being Considered
Since promises between cruise ships and the city of Monterey don't seem to work, local officials are hoping laws and regulations might. In the wake of Crystal Cruise's tardy admission that the crew of their Crystal Harmony dumped thousands of gallons of sewage water into the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS) back in October, state and federal regulations are in the works to make sure it doesn't happen again.
Last week, after Coast Weekly's deadline, it was announced through the City of Monterey Harbormaster's Office that crewmembers of the Crystal Harmony dumped sewage in the sea off Point Sur after the ship visited Monterey. Some 34,078 gallons of gray water, 264 gallons of 'treated' human waste and 2,118 gallons of bilge water was dumped in the protected area of the ocean despite written promises by the company to the contrary. The facts were disclosed after a state water protection agency asked to review the ship's logs.
The City of Monterey has since banned the ship from returning, in a move that made The New York Times.
But other cruise ships will keep arriving. In fact, the Celebrity Cruises Mercury is expected in the Monterey Harbor on March 16, part of a 13-visit schedule for 2003.
In February, the MBNMS's Sanctuary Advisory Council suggested that the Sanctuary work in to its ongoing management plan review plans to prohibit "harmful" discharges by cruise ships. In early 2004 a whole new set of rules and regulations for the MBNMS will be released in draft form for public review. Although cruise ships were not listed as a priority in the plan review previously, they are now.
Also, local Assemblyman John Laird has co-sponsored legislation addressing cruise ship waste release in any of the four national marine sanctuaries off the California Coast. Two other bills regarding cruise ship pollution have also been brought to the state legislature.
Rachel Saunders, MBNMS spokesperson, says cruise ships will now need to be in contact about what is being discharged while in the area--not months later. Still there are major obstacles.
"You can't really enforce a voluntary agreement," she says. "That's the problem."
In addition to measures being taken by the Sanctuary and by lawmakers in Sacramento, a coalition of conservation groups asked the Monterey City Council by letter on March 6 to ban all cruise ship visits to Monterey "unless and until it is clear to the public that there is an effective system in place to protect the [MBNMS] from cruise ship pollution."
Big Sur Forest Plan To Be Reviewed
The public is invited to weigh in on potential changes to allowed uses in the Los Padres National Forest at an open house in Big Sur next week. The review required every 15 years by the U.S. Forest Service, and includes the nearby Monterey District.
With recent additions that mean some 92 percent of the forest is now in well-protected wilderness status, there isn't much drastic change expected. However, non-wilderness parts of the forest can be designated for varied uses.
Los Padres Forest Planner Jim Turner says he doesn't expect the "ambience" of the coast to change much under the new plan, although some areas might be opened up to motorized use. The only extractive uses might be a salvage logging operation after a wildfire. Public comments will be collected at the open house and used in the planning process.
"What we are doing here is setting the stage to make sure we have a reasonable set of alternatives going into our analysis phase," Turner says.
The open house will last from 6 to 9pm on March 18 at the Big Sur Lodge Conference Room in Pfeiffer-Big Sur State Park off Highway 1. For more information about forest plans go to: www.r5.fs.fed.us/sccs
--Jessica Lyons, Andrew Scutro