Water Boarded

The definition of torture? A bungled, two-day Regional Water Quality Control Board meeting that flouted the Clean Water Act.

The Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board held a two-day marathon meeting at the end of last week. I’ve been attending board hearings for nearly a quarter century, well over 150 overall.  The Thursday hearing had to be the most screwed-up session I’ve ever attended, and I’m now convinced that this is the most anti-environmental board since the Gov. Deukmejian days. Heal the Bay had seven different items in front of the Regional Board over the session, which took place at the Ventura County government building and then Glendale City Hall.

 Among the important items on the packed agenda:  the Ventura County stormwater permit, the Hyperion Treatment Plant’s discharge permit, a waste discharge requirement for a new development along Malibu Creek in the Malibu civic center area and fecal bacteria Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) limits for the Santa Clara and Los Angeles rivers.

Unfortunately, logic and a responsibility to uphold the federal Clean Water Act took a holiday last week.

After the 32-hour marathon, exhaustion and anger overwhelmed me.  My faith in the state system’s ability to protect our right to clean water had been severely eroded.  The system isn’t entirely broken, but it is in need of major reform. 

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Beach Blunder

A judge's ruling puts S.M. Bay ocean users at risk.

Los Angeles County’s relentless pursuit of saving a buck at the expense of public health was once again rewarded Wednesday morning.

On a technicality, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David Yaffe (the same judge who decided that a full blown EIR was needed to ban plastic bags in Manhattan Beach) ruled that the Regional Water Board’s action to put the Santa Monica Beach Bacteria Total Maximum Daily Load into the county stormwater permit was illegal.

In essence, the judge ruled that one lawyer can’t represent the Regional Water Board as an advisor and as an “advocate” (according to the judge) for a particular position.

Much to the relief and short-term financial benefit of the county, the judge refused to hear the merits of the case.

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Some Early Presents …

Chanukah came early for L.A. coastal waters

Just in time for Chanukah, or a little early for Christmas … It may not have been a MacBook Air, a PS3, or even the latest iPhone, but Southern California’s coastal waters this week received some regulatory presents significantly better than a pack of Zhu Zhu Pets.

The city of Los Angeles’ decision on the Low Impact Development ordinance may have been postponed (a cliché at this point), but the state Fish and Game commission and the Regional Water Board made a couple of enormous decisions this week.

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Season’s Gratings

Bah humbug! for MPAs and TMDLs?

December means the holidays, and some very cold weather (at least for L.A.) and rain. It also means me eating way too many baked goods.  This year, December also brings major decisions that will affect coastal resources for generations to come — specifically votes on  marine protected areas and trash limits in the Los Angeles River. Unfortunately, one of the other major decisions — the Los Angeles Board of Public Works vote on the Low Impact development ordinance – has been postponed until Jan. 15 to address the concerns of the measures’ opponents, the Building Industry Assn.  The environmental and sustainable landscaping communities aren’t thrilled by the second postponement in as many months.  I hope the January vote is worth the wait.

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