Stench entrenched: deodorizing Cove will require time, money and bureaucratic buy-in

Foul-smelling excrement from birds and marine mammals covers the rocks along La Jolla Cove. File photo
Foul-smelling excrement from birds and marine mammals covers the rocks along La Jolla Cove. File photo
photo
Foul-smelling excrement from birds and marine mammals covers the rocks along La Jolla Cove. File photo

By Pat Sherman

Community members determined to rid La Jolla of the foul odor caused by pelican, cormorant and sea lion waste at La Jolla Cove will have to hold their noses a while longer.

According to Bob Morris with the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB), it will take a year to obtain a permit from his state agency. The permit is required to spray a deodorizing solvent on the offal-encrusted cliffs and rocks, and comes with a permit fee of $4,000 to $5,000.

Morris said an initial product proposal to be submitted to the RWQCB should state the product’s impact on the marine habitat, its components, how it will be used and who will be applying it — plus any record of product testing. The RWQCB does not conduct its own testing, Morris said.

Earlier this year community members approached San Diego’s Park and Recreation Department seeking approval to spray Prefered Water Alternative, a non-toxic agent derived from pomegranate and chia seed.

Prefered’s L.A.-based manufacturer/distributor,Carlos Sebastian, said his product, at full strength, passed the three-species test that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) uses to test for toxicity on three of the most environmentally sensitive species of fish.

“We’ve got aquariums running on the product,” Sebastian said, adding it has been used for three decades in Japan as an anti-wrinkle agent.

However, Sebastian said he doesn’t want to “spend thousands of dollars” for a permit application or further testing without knowing what the RWQCB requires.

“We’d like to know from them what they need from us to say it’s OK to use your product,” he said. “I will perform whatever (test) they need.”

La Jollan Mark Evans, who is working with the city’s Park and Recreation staff to rid the Cove of its reek, has suggested another product, which he said Park and Recreation District Manger Dan Daneri seems more amiable to — Costa Mesa-based Bio-Organic Catalyst’s EcoSystem Plus.

A product description for EcoSystem says it is safe for use in “all wastewater applications, including municipal and industrial wastewater facilities, agricultural and animal waste lagoons, and other contaminated water systems.”

Though Evans is awaiting further documentation from the company, he said he believes the product received EPA approval.

“I think the advantage it has is that it has been thoroughly tested scientifically and has been, apparently, cleared by the EPA and other regulatory agencies for discharge into any body of water — whether it’s an ocean, lake, river or anything else, because it’s not deemed to be a pollutant of any sort.

“According to (the company) it would work almost instantaneously,” Evans said. “It basically just decomposes the stuff and turns it back into elements that are harmless.”

Whichever method of cliff cleansing is put forth, the city’s Deputy Director of Developed Regional Parks, Kathleen Hasenauer, said both the manufacturer and community must obtain a letter from the RWQCB stating that the runoff created “doesn’t contain soluble concentrations of any chemical in excess of water quality (standards),” nor other pollutants that would contaminate the wetlands.

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