Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Appeals Court Finds L.A. County Responsible for Stormwater Pollution

Stormwater Drains Into a River (CRWC)
Los Angeles, CA- Earlier this month, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals sided in favor of the Natural Resources Defense Council, who initiated a lawsuit against Los Angeles County and the County Flood Control District. The lawsuit was filed in 2008 and held L.A. County liable for violations against the Clean Water Act. L.A. County would then have to clean up the pollutants found in stormwater runoff. Mercury, cyanide, lead, and fecal bacteria, among other pollutants, were found in billions of gallons of stormwater runoff.

Stormwater runoff is a huge source of pollution in Los Angeles, and chemicals, dirt, and debris often mix with stormwater, polluting beaches, rivers, and other sources of water. These dangerous materials can cause residents and tourists to become sick.

County officials, however, argue that the county should not be responsible, as the pollution is coming from multiple sources and cities.

In 2012, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court ruled that the county should be responsible for the pollution. However, this past January, the U.S. Supreme Court overruled the verdict. However, the Ninth Circuit still finds the county liable for the high levels of pollution. The case will go back to the federal district court to determine how the county will address the solution.

Steve Fleischli, director of the Natural Resource Defense Council stated, "Today, Los Angeles residents and visitors alike can celebrate a future with cleaner water, knowing that the County is legally obligated to get to work to address its pollution problem, and protect people and water quality. Luckily, we know there are a range of green infrastructure solutions available to ensure this pollution is addressed."

The Natural Resources Defense Council wants Los Angeles County to promote green infrastructure and on-site capture and filtration systems to reduce the pollution problem. Los Angels County has not yet proposed or implemented any green solutions.

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