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Release Date: 12/5/2001
Contact Information: Leo Kay, Press Office, 415/947-4306

     Announcement kicks off public comment period

     SAN FRANCISCO   The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today proposed to establish stringent pollutant control plans to address trash problems in the Los Angeles River and Ballona Creek watersheds.

     The plans, called  total maximum daily loads, or "TMDLs," are based on similar plans recently adopted by the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Plan and currently under consideration for approval by the State Water Resources Control Board.  The EPA plans call for the eventual elimination of trash discharges to the LA River, Ballona Creek and their tributaries.   Local cities and towns will ultimately implement the plans principally through stormwater discharge permits from municipal and CalTrans storm drain systems.

     The announcement kicks off a public comment period that will run until Jan. 15.  For a copy of the plan, or to submit comments, contact Sharon Lin at (415)972 -3446, or go to:  Comments should be directed to Sharon Lin, EPA Region IX, WTR-2, 75 Hawthorne St., San Francisco, CA 94105.

     The EPA issued the draft plans today in order to finalize them by a court-ordered March 2002 deadline.  The state will issue a more prescriptive TMDL in the next several months that will supercede the EPA's.

     "EPA and the state of California are working together to identify and develop solutions to the serious pollution  problems, including trash, that are impairing the quality of many rivers, creeks, and beaches in the Los Angeles area," said Alexis Strauss, the EPA's Pacific Southwest water division director. "The TMDLs will guide efforts by the state and local communities to greatly reduce the amount of trash that reaches Los Angeles River, Ballona Creek and Santa Monica Bay beaches.  Southern California beaches are a treasure enjoyed by so many that it's up to all of us to develop strategies to help keep them clean."

     The EPA is proposing the trash control plans today in order to meet the schedule requirements of a 1999 consent decree with two environmental groups, Heal the Bay and the Santa Monica Baykeeper.  The consent decree establishes a schedule for completing TMDL pollutant control plans for several dozen rivers, creeks and coastal areas in the Los Angeles region.  The EPA is working with the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board to develop the plans, which will be implemented by pollutant dischargers including cities, counties, industrial dischargers and land owners.  

     The federal Clean Water Act requires water quality assessments to identify pollutant sources and set allowable pollutant loads TMDLs for water bodies identified by states as polluted.  

     Other TMDLs are currently being developed to address a variety of pollution problems in Santa Monica Bay, Malibu Creek, Santa Clara River, Calleguas Creek and the San Gabriel River.  The EPA will establish TMDLs for the Calleguas Creek watershed and its tributaries for chlorides in early 2002; draft TMDLs will be released for public comment within the next few days.