Much of the reaction to the city’s plan to disperse the seals at the Children’s Pool in La Jolla has centered on the city’s proposal to use sounds of barking dogs to shoo the animals.

But in a letter today, attorney Cory Briggs warned that another part of the plan that calls for spraying water on the seals could violate federal law if it’s done without a permit.

The city’s plan calls for the sound of barking dogs to be played over a loudspeaker. When that ceases to work, the plan calls for varying the sounds, walking along the beach with a sound system or spraying the seals with water.

On behalf of San Diego Coastkeeper, Briggs wrote that the city would be required to obtain a permit to spray the seals:

Spraying water on the seals and thereby causing it to run off into the beach area and the ocean—regardless of whether the water actually comes into contact with a seal—would at the very least require the City to obtain a NPDES permit from the Regional Water Quality Control Board.

The letter says the city should obtain a permit beforehand or look for a way to comply with the state court order that doesn’t expose the city to an expensive loss in court.

A state court judge has ordered the city to shoo the seals, but a federal judge has said a temporary restraining order preventing the seals’ removal is still in effect. A hearing in San Diego Superior Court is scheduled for June 15.


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