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Russian River spill

EDITOR: The Russian River Watershed Protection Committee has tracked Russian River County Sanitation District sewer issues for the past 35 years. My comments quoted in your story on 100,000-gallon raw sewage spill need further clarification ("Sewage spill's aftermath," Saturday).

Unlike most Sonoma County treatment systems, the West County is an extremely challenging and expensive area to construct a conventional sewer. Besides periodic floods, we have high water tables, weak soils, extensive underground tree roots from giant trees and steep slopes with collapsing slides. The construction history of the sanitation district involved multiple lawsuits between the county and contractors. There were many unanticipated problems impacting construction that probably contributed over the years to our leaky system, now 30 years old.

Collection system maintenance has seldom included extensive testing and leaky pipe replacement. Because of a limited rate base that nonetheless pays some of the highest rates in the county, funds aren't available to fix collection system problems. Therefore breakdowns of one sort or another occur almost every time there is a big storm. Once rain leaks into pipes and contacts sewage, it's contaminated and must be processed as raw sewage. This results in extremely high flows that put extraordinary pressure on aging infrastructure.

BRENDA ADELMAN

Russian River Watershed Protection Committee

Guerneville

Sonoma's pink door

EDITOR: Seriously, can't these 12 people find something better to do with their time ("Sonoma shop's pink front has some seeing red," Monday)? Historic and aesthetic values around the Sonoma Plaza were gone long ago. Get real, a pink door doesn't hurt anything.

PAMELA MILLERICK HELLEN

Sonoma

Uneven praise

EDITOR: I'll preface my response to Lowell Cohn's column about Michael Sam ("Sam's decision to speak truth shows foresight," Feb. 11) by saying it isn't my place to judge others regarding the choices they make. Only our Creator can make that determination, and I believe He will do so with justice and love.

With this in mind, I respectfully take issue with Cohn faulting those who "still consider homosexuality a sin" when "most of us have evolved beyond that." Although Cohn praises Missouri football player Michael Sam for telling the truth, for "owning his (own) truth," he contradicts himself by stigmatizing people whose religious faith supersedes a culturally accepted and celebrated lifestyle that was seen as immoral by most people only a few decades ago. Shouldn't Cohn praise Christians and others as well for staying true to their beliefs, for "owning" their truth despite ever-increasing societal pressure and criticism?

I don't question Cohn's decision to applaud Sam's courage — Sam will need all the courage he can muster when he enters the hyper-masculine world of a NFL locker room — but I wonder why he doesn't extend the same recognition to those who continue to believe in the unchanging truths of the Bible in a relative-driven world or, simply, why mention them at all?

DAVE GEOFFRION

Petaluma

Terror and climate

EDITOR: Since when did the secretary of state become climate czar ("Kerry derides climate skeptics," Monday)? Don't we already have one of those? The Environmental Protection Agency.

Kerry called climate change "perhaps the world's most fearsome weapon of mass destruction." Iran is playing the U.S. regarding nuclear development and bragging about its ships in the Atlantic. Who knows what China, which has weapons of mass destruction, has floating in the Pacific. North Korea is creating a present day holocaust, and it has WMD. The Middle East is a mess, the U.S. and Russia, which has WMD, are barely on speaking terms, South America is starting to fall apart. Should I go on?