Malibu Wetlands: Festering swamp or beautiful refuge

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    Before any more taxpayer funds and volunteer efforts are spent on this scheme, shouldn’t someone make a reality check? Here are some questions and concerns that should be answered before we go too far:

    HEALTH AND SAFETY–“Wetlands” is just a pretty name for a swamp (see any dictionary). It is a living environment with life forms ranging from bacteria to birds, with insects and waterlife of all kinds in the food chain. It has now been determined that the dangerous levels of pollution that have closed the beaches at Huntington Beach have been traced to the Talbert Wetlands, a 20-acre marsh just inland from the shore in the heart of that city. After all, the excretions and droppings of thousands of birds are as bacteria-ridden as any other source of disease.

    Last year, seven people died and hundreds were sickened by the West Nile Virus in the city of New York. Despite heavy aerial chemical spraying over the city and the surrounding suburbs, the virus has reappeared, now spreading along the entire East Coast.

    This virus has been traced to mosquitoes in the wetland and ponds and is being carried by migratory fowl across the continent. Just this week, in Ventura, a horse died of equine encephalitis, similar to the killer East Coast disease, also spread by mosquitoes. In the East, parents are being told to keep their children away from bodies of water this year.

    Yet, some people in Malibu are proposing that the city build playing fields adjacent to the “Chumash Wetlands” so that children can play in close proximity to a potential source of deadly disease. By the way, the reason these proponents have not declared that the site has archeological significance is that no self-respecting Chumash would have ever built a dwelling next to a swamp.

    WATER SOURCE–To keep the Wetlands alive, hundreds of thousand of gallons of water will have to be obtained each month. Is there enough water flow down Malibu Creek to fill this giant pool all-year-round? If not, how much will the city have to spend each year to purchase Colorado River water? In a city which does not have a minimally adequate supply of water to meet any emergency needs, it seems reckless to provide for birds and insects while homeowners must stand in line for bottles of drinking water every time a pipeline is closed for two days.

    REDUCED TRAFFIC ON PCH–This has been the mantra of the Wetlands proponents. However, if they expect to obtain state or federal funds for their project they must know that they will have to provide access to everyone who would like to visit their beautiful wildlife refuge and park. Where in their plans do they propose to build the parking lots for all the tourists who will come each day, the dozens of school buses bringing thousands of school children on nature study field trips and the hundreds of bird-watchers and canoeists that Ms. Van Horn said she’d like to see? Does anyone believe that American taxpayers will spend hundreds of millions of dollars to build a park that would be enjoyed only by Malibu residents and local schoolchildren, as described in a recent article in a local newspaper?

    If the proponents of the Wetlands are serious, I am sure that they must have answers to these concerns. I would hate to think that all this fuss is just about finding a way to stop reasonable development of Malibu, and to kill worthwhile projects like senior housing.

    Will it really help reduce traffic and pollution on PCH if residents must continue driving dozens of miles to meet simple shopping and healthcare needs?

    Bob Rubenstein