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Quote of the Day - California is a fine place to live--if you happen to be an orange. - Fred Allen
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First Of Its Kind Ruling Pits Developers Against The Water Board

Yesterday, our local Court of Appeals issued what may be the first appellate decision on the ability of the California Regional Water Quality Control Board to impose strict water quality prohibitions. In its decision, the Court ruled that developers must install storm-drain filters, silt-removal basins and implement other "best management practices" intended to reduce bacteria, oils, fine metals and other pollutants from being discharged to the ocean by rain or other non-point sources of water.

The significance revolves around the ability to actually meet these standards. Federal law allows compliance as long as developers make efforts to the "maximum extent practicable" to reduce pollutants, even if those efforts fail. The San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board adopted a broader standard that requires developers to do whatever necessary to achieve measurable results. Any runoff causing a body of water to exceed state standards for swimming or wildlife is a violation.

The case, Building Industry Association of San Diego v. State Water Resources Control Board, with San Diego Baykeeper and a host of other intervenors, will ripple across California and the rest of the country. For example, the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board has approximately five lawsuits pending against it based on a similar set of recently-adopted standards. Those suits just got flushed down the toilet.

The BIA argued that it was impossible to meet the standards set by the SDRWQCB. The Board, on the other hand, set these standards high because municipal storm water runoff is the largest source of water pollution in the state.

Lines have been drawn in the sand. Let's see if BIA appeals. So far, their attorney reports, they haven't decided.

Right now, we're in the rainy season, and violations will be rampant. Perhaps the enforcement of these standards will result in an appeal if the BIA doesn't take this case further.

Fines imposed by the Water Board can be pretty steep.

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Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Wednesday, December 08, 2004 at 11:17 Comments Closed (0) |
 
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