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Fair Game

By TOM JOHNSON

The kids of Newport Beach once again head to summer Junior Guards

TOM MARCHAs sure as the wildebeest migrate from Tanzania’s Serengeti Desert to Masai Mara in Kenya…the caribou, from the U.S. border to the Tuk Peninsula, north of the Arctic Circle…salmon, which leave their feeding grounds far out in the ocean to travel hundreds of miles up through inland freshwater streams to spawn…monarch butterflies that find their way from the farthest parts of North America all the way down to California and into Mexico…or the Gray Whale that travels some 12,000 miles annually in a round-trip migration from the Arctic to the Baja lagoons…today, our greatest LOCAL migration begins.

Yes, adorned in their signature red swimsuits and trunks, many aboard bicycles, the great migration of this year’s Newport Beach Junior Lifeguards begins as kids ages 9-15 get their turn to experience what so many before them have done for the past 38 years in Newport Beach (begun in 1984).

Now, Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to noon for the morning session, and 1-4 p.m. for the afternoon session, the Junior Guards will not only fill our beach and ocean around the Balboa Pier, but also our crosswalks and sidewalks in their efforts to arrive to the Peninsula and home safely. It’s incumbent on all of us as automobile drivers to slow down, exude a little patience and make sure we also do our part in that effort.

In case you don’t know what the participants learn and/or experience in JG, it’s a “seven-week ocean-based program focused on building ocean swimming skills, physical fitness, beach safety awareness and learning the role of ocean lifeguards...all while having an amazing time at the beach!”

For many, it’s simply their rite of passage. Enjoy!

• • •

Several weeks ago, Newport Beach City Manager Grace Leung shared news that the California Coastal Commission unanimously approved a proposal to allow the City of Newport Beach to install a floating trash collection system. The “trash wheel” would be installed on the banks of San Diego Creek and designed to prevent thousands of tons of trash from finding its way down into the Upper Newport Bay and, eventually, to the ocean.

The wheel is modeled after one being used in Baltimore’s harbor. The system would utilize two booms, a water wheel and conveyer belt, capturing and removing the trash that comes downstream and deposit it into nearby containers on the riverbank.

The wheel would be “sustainably powered by solar panels and the movement of water,” and installed on the north bank, between the Jamboree Road and MacArthur Boulevard bridges.

Fair Game Trash collecting water wheel rendering

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Courtesy of City of Newport Beach/CCC

A rendering of the trash-collecting water wheel proposed for San Diego Creek, near Upper Newport Bay

According to Leung, “The City was awarded a $2.2 million grant from the Ocean Protection Council and Orange County Transit Authority (Measure M) to fund permitting, engineering and building.”

And now, following the Coastal Commission’s approval, the city will seek additional approvals with the hope of undertaking the project beginning in January 2023.

Recently, some negative comments concerning the water wheel were circulating on local social media sites, criticizing the trash wheel project by saying that “it’s already been tried with the Hamilton Water Rake…and is a complete waste of money.” 

The Hamilton Water Rake, for those who don’t know, was a device designed by former Newport Beach Citizen of the Year Bill Hamilton, the former owner of The Cannery, back in the early 1990s. It was designed to move around the bay picking up trash that had already made its way into the harbor, much of it from upstream.

The trash wheel and the water rake are not even close in comparison. The wheel prevents trash from entering, while the rake in its day picked up that trash once it made its way there.

Still, Stu News went to the source and asked former mayor and current city councilmember Duffy Duffield about this new “wheel”:

“OMG…I can’t believe anyone would argue against this device. Picking up the trash BEFORE it reaches the upper bay is the most logical and least expensive method by light years. 

“BTW, when a Styrofoam or plastic cup ends up on the reed grass in the upper bay there is virtually no way to remove it. It has to disintegrate over time which takes forever.

“You can’t walk on the reed grass or drive a boat on it, or near it. There’s 500 acres of reed grass out there. Well, maybe not 500 acres of reed grass but that’s the total area that makes up the reserve. Trust me, it’s a bunch, just take a look out there and you’ll agree. 

“The San Diego Creek runs by several cities – Lake Forest, Santa Ana, Irvine, Tustin, Laguna Woods and Orange. They all dump their “dry water flow” every day into the creek via storm drains. Dry water flow is constant all year long. Funny they call it what they call it, right? This is the water from washing cars, watering lawns and landscape, etc. 

“The device (water wheel) will automatically break away in a large storm event so that it won’t be overwhelmed. It will be put back in place immediately after the storm event. Same thing happens to the one in Baltimore Harbor. 

“So, yes there is no way to capture 100% of the trash in the San Diego Creek, but by filtering out the trash 90% of the time we limit the trash going in by several tons each year. 

“The best news is we received a grant from the state to pay for more than half of it. I got the money four years ago! Permitting and engineering issues slowed the process considerably. But as you know government works like that.

“Makes me crazy. 

“The newly opened trash separator in the Delhi Channel built by the Army Corps acts like a water wheel. It is located next to the golf course at the end of the airport runway. This is great timing because there are only two channels of water that make it to the upper bay and soon both will have trash separation methods in place. 

“In the future, I’m told, there will be laws to force cities upstream from us to block 100% of the trash that flows into storm drains and storm basins. Heavy fines have been considered to force the issue. Screens will be installed at every storm drain in each city forcing them to “clean out” the trash and haul it away. Cities don’t want to do this because it requires money whereas today, they have no obligation to clean their storm drains or storm channels. 

“So, eventually (maybe) the two flowing creeks we have now won’t have a spec of trash and when that happens, we won’t need the water wheel. I think that is wishful thinking but knowing California maybe it will happen. Not in my lifetime but…”

Duffy

• • •

Speaking of trash, the Orange County Coastkeepers, Assemblymember Cottie Petrie-Norris and State Senator Dave Min, joined with 78 volunteers Saturday for a clean-up of the Santa Ana River-Delhi Channel.

We’re told that in just two hours, the group removed more than 2,500 pounds of debris from the waterway, preventing it from impacting the Upper Newport Bay.

“It makes me so happy when I see people really care about our community. Thank you to the amazing volunteers who made this River Channel Cleanup a huge success,” said Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris (D-Irvine).

“Keeping river channels clean and trash-free is vital to protecting our local wetlands and estuaries, especially here at the edge of Newport Back Bay,” said Senator Dave Min (D-Irvine). 

Orange County waterways collect trash from inland communities via the county’s rivers and storm drains. If not intercepted, the pollution impacts our oceans and shorelines. Community cleanups are one of the best ways for the public to help prevent this debris from polluting the sea and harming marine wildlife.

• • •

So, Sunday was the perfect Father’s Day, spending it with my daughter, Ashley. We headed down to the 15th Annual Father’s Day Car Show at the Balboa Bay Resort and followed that up with lunch overlooking the bay at the A & O Restaurant/Bar

First, the collection of cars was great and the crowd, which filled the Resort’s south parking lot, was more than appreciative. 

If you didn’t go, here are some of the entries you missed:

Best Classic Car, 1955 Mercedes 300SL, Gary Jabara

Most Colorful Award, 1955 Chevrolet Delray, Bob Lienau

BBC Governor Award, 1962 Fiat Jolly, Bill McCullough

BBC Governor Award, 2022 Ford GT, Chadwick Manista

BBC Governor Award, 1958 Mercedes 300 SN, Nick & Ruth Clemmons

Best Luxury Car, 1962, Bentley, Continental S2 Coupe, Jerry & Eric Barto

Best Muscle Car, 1968 Ford Mustang McQueen, Vance Vlasek

Dad’s Pick, 1968 Ford Bronco, Alfredo Dreyfus Sr.

Best British Car, 1970 MG MGB, Amanda Walker

Fast & Furious, 2022 Superlite LMP Hypercar, Don Davis

Favorite Car in Show, 1959 Volkswagen Shorty Bus, Bill Stellmacher

Fair Game VW shorty bus

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Photo by Ashley Johnson

Voted the Favorite Car in Show, this “Shorty” 1959 Volkswagen Bus drew everyone’s attention