Watershed Committee Meeting Feb. 11

Water quality in Topanga Creek is an urgent issue for Topanga Canyon residents, visitors to Topanga Beach, and our ecosystem. Once again, this will be the primary topic at the Topanga Creek Watershed Committee’s next meeting scheduled for Saturday, February 11, from 10 a.m. to noon at a place to be determined.

Keeping the creek clean is important for two reasons. For one, pollution and bacteria can be harmful to plants and animals that inhabit Topanga Creek and marine waters that it flows into.

The other reason we want to keep the creek clean is that preventing pollution is much easier and more economical that cleaning up pollution after it gets into our environment. Controlling pollution is a difficult and expensive task. Much of the cost for this effort will be borne by Topanga residents, but if we allow the creek to become badly polluted the price tag for cleaning it up will be astronomical.

Rapid urban and suburban development creates pollution problems that are often subtle and decentralized, making them difficult to detect and ever harder to solve. Polluted runoff from urban areas is increasing at a rate that in many places overwhelms environmental advances.

Let’s consider our local pollution problems in a global context. Of course, our situation is not universal around the planet. Some places are roughly on a par with us, like Australia and Canada. China, however, probably the biggest water polluter on earth, is 50 years behind us and is only now beginning to face horrendous pollution from industry and agriculture. Eastern Europeans, faced with a wake-up call we know as Chernobyl, are a not quite as far behind as China.

Western European nations have been confronted with problems of urbanization for a long time. They have learned from their experiences and in many cases are ahead of the U.S. in grappling with pollution problems. They still, however, have a long way to go. Just last week the Los Angeles Times reported the discovery of pharmaceuticals in our drinking water. Western Europe discovered decades ago that hormones derived from birth-control pills found their way through sewage treatment plants and permeated river water. Several species of fish in the rivers are unable to reproduce as a result. No solution has yet been found for this problem.

Central and South America are a mixed bag, with some of the most pristine areas on earth juxtaposed with centers of urban and industrial squalor. In Africa, most people are so desperately poor that simple survival takes precedence over environmental problems.

Our survival is totally dependent on clean water. The benefits of clean lakes and streams are well-known. Less well-known is the fact that marine algae produces most of the atmospheric oxygen crucial to all animal life on the planet, and that algae can tolerate only so much toxic pollution.

California is a world leader in pollution control, largely thanks to forward-looking citizens who want to live in a healthy environment and are willing to commit their personal lives to that goal. The Topanga Creek Watershed Committee (TCWC) is one of a multitude of local environmentally-oriented neighborhood groups who work daily to protect our home, our planet, for future generations.

Government agencies charged with cleaning up water pollution can only do so much. Their policies and regulations are often very costly to citizens while doing little to solve any problems. The TCWC is a truly grass-roots organization, and at the same time is well-connected with other neighborhood groups and government agencies. This gives us a unique ability to network with citizens and public agencies, who can help find real solutions to problems and spread the word about them throughout the community.

Please join us at our next meeting help us keep our creek and our planet clean and healthy. This month we will present ideas on how to prevent water pollution from residential septic tank.

The next TCWC meeting will be held on Saturday, February 11, from 10 a.m. to noon at a place to be determined.

For more information, contact Matt at (310) 453-8504 or e-mail mhorns_1@hotmail.com.