Lights out for community fireworks shows?
by Mariko Lamb
Dec 15, 2010 | 1814 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Costly permitting fees and water monitoring requirements for over-water fireworks displays may put an end to annual community fireworks shows such as the Fourth of July display at La Jolla Cove, Ocean Beach’s fireworks off the pier and “Big Bay Boom” in San Diego Bay, said Mayor Jerry Sanders in a press conference Friday, Dec. 10.

A September proposal by the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB) suggests fireworks show organizers would need a national pollutant discharge elimination system (NPDES) permit for any public display of fireworks over a body of water. This requirement would be the first of its kind in the nation.

In order to obtain the permit, organizers of fireworks shows would be required to implement a so-called “best management practices” (BMP) plan to clean up post-show debris in the water and to submit an event cleanup report to the RWQBC.

The permit, based on the statewide fee for NPDES permits, would be less than $1,500 per year. However, Sanders and organizers of community fireworks shows estimate costs for the entire process to be much higher.

In recent years, some organizers have been forced to cancel community fireworks shows because of lawsuits or threats of legal action by environmental groups.

The San Diego RWQCB argues that fireworks contain pollutants that have the potential to adversely affect sediment and water quality.

District 1 City Councilwoman Sherri Lightner argues the “evidence is just not there.”

“A once or twice yearly event should not be regulated in this way,” she said, referring to her district’s annual Fourth of July fireworks show in La Jolla Cove.

At 10 a.m. today, Dec. 16, the RWQCB will hold a public workshop at its headquarters, located at 9174 Sky Park Court. There, staff will give details of the tentative order and address concerns.

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