Enough is enough. Although Heal the Bay generally only uses litigation as a last resort, we do have our limits. On Tuesday, Santa Barbara environmental group Heal the Oceans and Heal the Bay filed a lawsuit against the State Water Resources Control Board for its failure to implement Assembly Bill 885, which required the Board to develop regulations for on-site wastewater treatment systems. AB 885 was authored by former assembly member Hannah-Beth Jackson in 1999 and Gov. Davis signed it into law in 2000. The bill required the Board to develop regulations for the siting, permitting and operation of on-site wastewater treatment systems, or OWTS, by 2004.
The regulations took aim at septic systems, which pose a serious threat to water quality at several famous beaches up and down the coast. After seven years of patience and a decade of regulatory negotiations with the state, county health agencies, OWTS experts and local government representatives, the environmental groups involved felt that they had no choice but to sue the state to ensure that the law would be implemented. Coast Law Group filed the suit on behalf of the organizations.
Both groups were instrumental in the passage of the law as bill sponsors. In the 1990s, while Hillary Hauser and Heal the Oceans led efforts to clean up chronically polluted Rincon, Heal the Bay pushed for cleanup at the even more polluted Surfrider Beach. Both groups noted scientific studies that found human pathogens in the adjacent coastal lagoons — strong evidence that nearby septic systems were causing or contributing to chronic water quality problems that posed health risks to the surfing community.
Filed under: Heal the Bay, Legislation, Urban Runoff, Malibu Lagoon, Sewage, Marine Life, Environmental Governance | Tagged: Water Quality, septic systems, State Water Resources Control Board, Heal the Oceans, lawsuits, AB 885 | Leave a Comment »