L.A. County Beach Pollution Case Goes to U.S. Supreme Court


From the LA Times:

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Monday to hear Los Angeles County’s appeal of a lower court decision requiring the county to clean up polluted runoff that flows to the ocean through two urban waterways.

Trash on Venice Beach

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals last year sided with environmental groups in finding the county and its flood control district responsible for tainted water released into the Los Angeles and San Gabriel rivers, in violation of the Clean Water Act.

The Natural Resources Defense Council and Santa Monica Baykeeper sued the county in 2008 in an effort to get the agency to treat or divert the water before it reaches the beach.

Water quality experts have long identified storm runoff — the toxic soup of bacteria, pesticides, fertilizer and trash that is swept to the sea when it rains — as the leading source of water pollution at Southern California beaches and a cause of swimmer illness.

The Los Angeles County Flood Control District has argued it is not to blame for the tainted runoff — even if it were so polluted with oil and grease that it caught fire — because it does not generate the pollutants. The agency has said the thousands of miles of storm drains and flood channels it oversees are mere conduits for upstream polluters, including dozens of cities and industrial sites.

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