By Bud Emmerson
Nothing fits Del Mar's value system like the clean water election we are now experiencing. All of us have received a mail ballot, which must be filed at city hall by Sept. 15. If your ballot has been misplaced, a replacement can be obtained from City Hall.
Del Mar's prize assets are our unmatched oceanfront and restored lagoon. Although the Clean Water Act is federal legislation, implemented by the State of California, it reads like a city ordinance made for Del Mar. Long committed to protecting the environment, we make major efforts to keep our expansive beach clean and safe. We nurture this prize natural resource for our enjoyment and the enjoyment of millions of visitors from all over the west. We have made extraordinary strides in preserving and restoring a vibrant lagoon estuary.
Recent scientific alerts warn us that our oceans are developing dead spots, caused largely by toxic runoff from our homes, businesses, and vehicles. Those runoffs are radically altering the chemistry of the seawater and interrupting vital early stages of the food chain. Absent any effort to intercept these runoff materials, we can expect these dead spots to proliferate. Our exemplary lagoon estuary restoration faces similar threats. This is precisely what the Clean Water Act is designed to address.
Del Mar and other cities have been collecting modest fees to help pay for these preventive measures. We have committed to increase our pollution efforts dramatically in coming years. No federal funds have been allocated for these programs, even though the requirements are stringent and expensive. Local fees are the only source of financial support.
The ballot we all have asks us to confirm the fees we have been paying and authorizes a moderate increase for the future efforts that are required. If we fail to approve, we are still obligated to pay for these protections, so monies will have to be diverted from other vital functions such as lifeguarding, law enforcement, fire protection, and public works.
Federal and state authorities do not finance this effort because they believe it is local government's responsibility to clean up its own waterways. Regardless of whether we think this unfunded mandate is fair, it is a done deed - the reality is that we are obligated.
In Del Mar's case, this obligation seems less burdensome because we are already committed to nurturing our beach and lagoon resources. The price is fair and the cause is righteous. Make sure your voice is heard by sending in your ballot.