A measure that would’ve clarified the definition of water in Mission Bay was postponed today at the request of Mayor Jerry Sanders.

The measure pushed by Councilwoman Donna Frye would define the waters of Mission Bay to include “wetlands, navigable waters, and all ‘waters of the United States’ as that term is used or defined under the Clean Water Act.”

Frye has been involved in the issue since 1998 and says she sought to clarify the meaning of water after a 2000 survey of the park counted portions of the San Diego River and other waters as land.

The definition of water is important in Mission Bay Park because the city can only lease out 25 percent land in the park. Any water counted as land would increase the total acreage of parkland around Mission Bay that could be leased out.

“What this definition does is it says that water is water,” Frye said. “It is no more complicated or difficult than that.”

Mayoral aide Jeff Gattas asked that the measure be continued 60 days so that it can be analyzed by city staff and that analysis can be presented to the Mission Bay Park Committee and the City Council. An association of Mission Bay lessees also supported the continuance.

Frye said the issue had gone through seven years of public hearings and a continuance was unnecessary. The council voted 6-1 to support the continuance, with Frye opposing and Councilman Brian Maienschein absent.

The City Attorney’s Office agrees with Frye, saying that the city incorrectly characterized marshes and wetlands as land rather than water, as wetlands and marshes are regulated as water under the Clean Water Act.


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