Don’t Forget Water, Jerry

Life imitates art at the L.A. Regional Water Board

Dear Governor Brown:

I understand you are facing California’s budget crisis head on and I agree with your priority setting for the state: digging us out of the budget crisis is priority one through 100. However, on behalf of all of those that care about clean water in the Los Angeles region, we need your help. Making appointments to boards that don’t necessarily share your views on environmental protection is a high priority. Each month that goes by without your appointments could lead to a series of bad decisions.

For example, the Los Angeles Regional Water Board met on Thursday and one of its first orders of business was the approval of a new board chair. Typically, this is a pro-forma decision. The vice chair gets appointed to the chair leadership. Unfortunately, a Coastal Commission hearing broke out at the Simi Valley meeting with politics getting in the way of traditional policy. Every year for the last 10 years, the vice chair has become the chair. Until Thursday.

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Nature Control

The L.A. "flood control channel" River.

Last Thursday, the Regional Water Board voted to approve a Waste Discharge Requirement (WDR) for the Los Angeles County Nature Control District’s “channel maintenance” activity. After all, to the County, our LA, Santa Clara and San Gabriel Rivers are flood control channels, not living ecosystems and habitats.

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Cleaning Up the Stink in Malibu

200390363-001My kids are ages 16, 13 and 10.  Trying to get them to clean up the mess in their rooms is nearly impossible.  If I badger them continuously, promises will be made to tidy up.  Inevitably, these pledges are empty and rarely result in a clean room.  My experience with Malibu during its 18 years of cityhood is pretty similar: a horrible mess, an ungodly smell, and plenty of unfulfilled promises. 

On Thursday, the Regional Water Board will play the role of the parent that has had enough of a recalcitrant child.  Malibu, board members will say, it’s time to clean up your mess and get real about fixing long-standing water quality issues. And this time there are consequences — an immediate ban on new septic systems in the Malibu civic center area and a moratorium on all on-site wastewater treatment systems by 2014.

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Victory in Ventura!

Ventura's new progressive stormwater permit bodes well for local wetlands

Ventura's new progressive stormwater permit bodes well for local wetlands and rivers

After a grueling and tense 12-hour hearing, the Southern California Regional Water Board last night approved a new stormwater permit for Ventura County on a 5-1 vote.  The permit follows over two years of contentious debate involving Ventura County, its muncipalities, the Building Industry Assn., the environmental community and the Regional Board.

Over the last year, Ventura County and all 11 of its cities negotiated a far-reaching agreement with Heal the Bay and the NRDC. The six-page pact was incorporated in to the permit during the board vote despite the strong opposition from Regional Board staff.  Here are the highlights: Continue reading

Cynical About the ‘Bu

Malibu Creek, Lagoon and Civic CenterOn Thursday, the Regional Water Board unanimously approved a resolution requiring Board staff to negotiate a new memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Malibu for permitting on-site wastewater treatment systems (OWTS, or septic systems).  In addition, staff was ordered to move forward on an OWTS moratorium for the Malibu Civic Center area.  Both of these actions must come back to the Board within one year.

The Board and staff are to be commended for moving forward on this critical measure.  Also, props to Malibu for playing nice today.  Mayor Pam Conley Ulich set the tone in her testimony.  Malibu supported the resolution, thereby avoiding a potentially contentious situation.

So why aren’t I happy?

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