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U.S. EPA SETTLES SUIT, ADDRESSES L.A., VENTURA WATERSHED POLLUTION
Release Date: 1/20/1999
Contact Information: Dave Schmidt, U.S. EPA, (415) 744-1578
(San Francisco) -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA), the U.S. Department of Justice, and the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California today announced that the U.S. EPA has reached agreement with the environmental groups Heal The Bay and Santa Monica Baykeeper, to settle the groups' lawsuit concerning pollution problems in over 100 water bodies in Los Angeles and Ventura County watersheds, including the Los Angeles River, Ventura River, Santa Clara River, Malibu Creek, and 25 beaches in Los Angeles and Ventura Counties. The Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board, a state agency which was not a party to the lawsuit, has already made commitments to develop pollution reduction plans, known as Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs), for many of these waters. In the settlement, U.S. EPA guarantees that TMDLs will be established on a specified schedule for all the named pollutants and water bodies over the next 13 years.
"We all want Los Angeles and Ventura County's beaches and rivers to be clean and safe,but wanting it doesn't make it happen," said Felicia Marcus, Regional Administrator of U.S. EPA. "We now have a road map and schedule to get the job done by state and federal agencies working with all sectors of the community."
A TMDL is the amount of a pollutant a waterway can absorb, plus a margin of safety, and still meet water quality standards, including designated uses such as drinking water, aquatic life, and recreation. TMDLs include quantitative assessments of water quality problems, pollution sources, and pollution reductions needed to restore and protect a river, stream, or beach.
The TMDL process, under the federal Clean Water Act, provides a framework for assessing the environmental problems in a watershed and identifying pollution reductions needed to protect drinking water, aquatic life, recreation, and other uses of rivers, lakes, and streams. The Clean Water Act gives states the primary responsibility for establishing TMDLs, though U.S. EPA can also develop them. The agreement commits U.S. EPA to establish TMDLs within one year if the Regional Board misses a deadline.
The schedule for adoption of TMDLs set by the consent decree, which is pending review by the U.S. District Court in San Francisco, is attached below. U.S. EPA is currently providing technical and financial assistance to support the State's development of these TMDLs. If U.S. EPA needs to establish any of these TMDLs, the agency intends to work with state agencies, local governments, landowners, environmental groups, and other stakeholders in Los Angeles and Ventura Counties to do so. A list of the specific waters, and specific pollutants, covered by this consent decree is available upon request. To request it, call (415) 744-1578.
Nationally, there have been over 25 lawsuits related to the Clean Water Act TMDL program. This settlement is the third TMDL lawsuit settled in California. The first involved Northern California coastal rivers, and the second involved the Newport Bay watershed in Southern California. More information can be found on U.S. EPA's Internet homepage at https://www.epa.gov/OWOW/tmdl/index.html.
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