Water Quality Protected!

Yesterday, Orange County District Court Judge Thierry Colaw issued a ruling on the Arcadia II case that restored water quality protection for the Los Angeles region. The environmental community (NRDC, SM Baykeeper and Heal the Bay) disagrees with the conclusion that the Los Angeles Regional Water Board’s water quality planning is flawed, and we are evaluating our appellate options. But the critical bottom line is this: Clean water standards are in place and enforceable once again to protect the public health of millions of beachgoers and to safeguard aquatic life in the Southland.

All of the credit for this amazing turnaround goes to NRDC, especially lead counsel and water program co-director David Beckman along with Michelle Mehta and Noah Garrison. Remember, when David and his crew of litigators started working on this, the state had lost the case. The judge’s original writ of mandate ordered the cessation of all water quality standard-related stormwater and Total Maximum Daily Load activity at the water board. Thanks to a dizzying series of motions by NRDC on behalf of themselves, SM Baykeeper and Heal the Bay, the judge’s amended ruling clarifies that the water board can go back to the business of regulating stormwater pollution and enforcing stormwater and TMDL violations.

While the order requires the boards to review standards, the judge appropriately realized that shackling the boards from using the standards to regulate the largest source of water pollution in the meantime was not in the interests of justice. I couldn’t agree more.

Now if only the Coalition for Practical Regulation cities and the Building Industry Assn. would stop suing over water quality regulations that protect public health and the environment. Most egregious is the CPR cities’ use of public funds for endless litigation efforts to save money for a few at the health and aquatic life costs of the many.

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