San Diegans Unite Against Proposed Riverfront Garbage Dump

I’ve blogged often about the worst idea to hit San Diego County in a long time – a proposed garbage dump on the banks of the San Luis Rey River.  It looks like I’m not the only one who feels this way.

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Last night, over three hundred people packed into a senior center near San Diego to tell the Army Corps of Engineers – the agency in charge of the landfill’s federal Clean Water Act permitting process – that garbage and water don't mix.

Elected officials and representatives from San Diego, San Diego County, Oceanside, and other nearby cities were there.  So were tribal leaders and elders from all over the County.  Environmental groups and river advocates showed up in force, as did water agencies and scores of concerned citizens.

For over two and a half hours, people railed against this terrible project, and with good reason.  It would threaten the San Luis Rey River and its underlying aquifer, critical drinking water sources for the region.  It would desecrate lands that Native Americans hold sacred.  It would destroy wildlife habitat.

And for what?  A new dump that the County doesn’t even need.

Contrary to the landfill people’s claims, there is no shortage of landfill space in the County.  Waste diversion and recycling rates have increased tremendously in recent years.  And existing landfills are being expanded, and their remaining space is being used more efficiently.

Testimony often turned emotional.  Members of the Luiseño tribes talked about what the sacred lands threatened by the landfill meant to them and their ancestors.  Longtime area residents worried about how the inevitable leak in the landfill’s liner would devastate the sensitive San Luis Rey watershed.  Many people testified that they could not believe that this nonsensical project – which has been in the works for over twenty years – was still under consideration at all.

And how many people spoke in support of the project?  Zero.  I think that says it all.

Last night was a powerful showing of support for clean drinking water and respect for Native American rights in San Diego County.  Several NRDC members and I were there, proud to stand united with our friends and allies to speak in opposition to this ill-conceived project.  It is more clear to us than ever that the Army Corps should reject the landfill's permit appilcation and stop this terrible project.  If they don't, you can be sure NRDC will continue to fight this dump every step of the way.

(Photos © NRDC.)