Friday, July 06, 2007

Goats in Laguna Beach & 1993 Wild Fire Ran Out of Water Myth

Letter to the editor from my wife Johanna Felder
Letter to the Editor published in July 6, 2007 Laguna Beach Independent.

Sometimes it’s tough being an environmentalist. We know many enjoy making fun of tree-huggers, but it is not right for the Laguna Beach Independent to publish a letter-to-the-editor that misrepresents positions and facts.
Some environmentalists oppose using the goats for fuel modification, but that is a long way from environmentalist s opposing fuel thinning that would provide homeowners and firefighters a defensive space. Environmentalist have long know of the adverse environmental impacts of using the goats and now understand that using hand crews may be both the best environmental and economical solution.
The letter also mistakes facts. The myth that Laguna Beach reservoirs ran out of water during the wild fire October 27, 1993 has been repeated often, but that does not make it true. The Los Angeles Times November 14, 1993 article "Water Pressure Burned Laguna" stated "Distribution problems - and not low supply - hindered fight, records show. Millions of gallons went unused." "The main culprits: dwindling water pressure, inadequate pipeline connections and insufficient pumping capacity." The Times noted that at 7:30 p.m., the Alta Laguna reservoir had a water level of 137,000 gallons.

In another November 1993 article, the Coastline Pilot sub headline was “They Do Not Claim That Extra Water Would Have Saved Houses” in which Laguna Beach County Water District Engineer Jim Nestor was quoted as saying “It’s unclear as to how the three million gallons [of proposed additional storage] would have helped us.” The article noted “Some of the low pressure that firefighters experienced in Mystic Hills was a function of demand elsewhere in the system as residents turned on thousands of hoses to wet down their roofs and yards.”

Let’s honestly debate issues of public policy, but it should be done without misrepresenting opponent’s positions and without misstating facts.


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