Orange County to stop testing local waters


The Orange County Health Care Agency will no longer test the water off the Seal Beach and Sunset Beach coast from November 2009 to April 2010. Seal Beach City Manager David Carmany told the Sun Newspapers that city staff is looking at the cost of hiring a private lab to take water samples.

In an Oct. 15 e-mail to the chief of Supervisor John Moorlach’s staff, Carmany wrote that Seal Beach Marine Safety staff had been notified that week that the county will discontinue bacteria testing as a cost saving measure.

“I think this cut-back is indicative of a soft collapse of government infrastructure that may portend changes to the way Seal Beach must conduct government business,” Carmany wrote. “That is, as other agencies cut back, our city will be forced to step up.”

“One question,” Carmany asked. “Why is this cut being made in Seal Beach and not in the other beach communities to the south of us?”

In response, Rick Francis, chief of staff to County Supervisor Moorlach, said Carmany’s “soft-collapse” assessment was “spot on.” He said Seal Beach might want to consider funding water testing from Nov. 1, 2009 to March 31, 2010.

Francis, relaying information from the Environmental Health Division of the Health Care Agency, said the state of California mandates and funds testing coastal waters from April 1 to Oct. 31 of each year. The county has paid for water testing from the County General Fund for the rest of the year. “HCA is implementing necessary program reductions due to a reduction in (the) General Fund, specifically discontinuing sampling at 97 locations from Nov. 1 to March 31, which includes Seal Beach locations,” Francis wrote.

He said the Orange County Sanitation District’s most northern surf zone sampling location does not extend past Bolsa Chica State Beach. For that reason, water sampling will not take place from Sunset Beach to Seal Beach.

Carmany told the Sun that the cut backs were effecting law enforcement as well as water quality. He said if a Los Angeles County parolee is arrested for a misdemeanor in Seal Beach, the authorities no longer want him back.

“That hasn’t long been the case,” Carmany said.  “And the OC Sheriff’s Dept is seriously considering changing the system of arraignment appearances so that it would be centralized.  Everyone would have to be transported to Santa Ana and the court appearance would be there rather than going to Westminster .  As budgets get tighter, every agency must re-tool the way it does business.  This often affects the other agencies in unintended ways.”


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