THE SURGE  July 2016

Save The Blue
LAW Files Suit Against Water Boards to Protect LA River

Continuing the proud LAW tradition of holding public agencies accountable, on July 18 we filed suit to overturn the Los Angeles Regional and State Water Boards' decision to weaken regulations on copper and lead in the LA River and its tributaries. The lawsuit - the first initiated by LAW's new legal team of Bruce Reznik, Arthur Pugsley, and Melissa Kelly - seeks to overturn Water Board approvals of Site Specific Objectives (SSOs) that replace existing Water Quality Standards. The SSOs relax regulations on lead discharges into the river, and allow up to 969% more copper pollution in some areas and an average of about 400% more copper in the LA River as a whole.
 
These major changes were approved without meaningful analysis of the environmental impacts. The Water Boards based their decisions on a flawed technical study funded and prepared under the direction of dischargers themselves, and repeatedly ignored criticisms of the study and review process made by LAW and our partner organizations Heal the Bay and NRDC.
 
This sets a terrible precedent for the LA River, and for every waterbody in the state that suffers from excessive levels of metals and toxic chemicals. LAW will vigorously pursue this case to ensure that the Water Boards are held accountable for these decisions, and that the previous Water Quality Standards - designed to protect both aquatic life and human health - are restored. 
 
Follow LAW Staff Attorney Arthur Pugsley's blog series on the lawsuit!
Town Hall Explores LA's Water Future

Nearly 100 people gathered last Thursday at a Manhattan Beach community center to hear from leading environmental experts on the future of water in LA, and the role that open-ocean desalination should (or, more appropriately, should not) play in that future.

The  Town Hall was held largely in response to West Basin Municipal Water District's proposal to build a 20-60 million gallons per day (MGD) open-ocean desalination facility along the Santa Monica Bay, likely in the El Segundo area. West Basin is a water wholesaler that sells water to 17 cities in the Los Angeles region. Serving a population of nearly one million local residents, the agency is the 6th largest water district in California. Environmental advocates oppose open-ocean desalination as a first resort as it is the most expensive, energy-intensive and environmentally damaging way to develop local water supplies. 
 
Photo Courtesy of Steven Johnson of Heal the Bay.
Hosted by LAW, Heal the Bay, Desal Response Group and Surfrider Foundation - South Bay Chapter, these groups along with former Huntington Beach Mayor Debbie Cook, longtime coastal activist Joe Geever, and the Natural Resources Defense Council, presented on a variety of topics including: where our water currently comes from; the environmental and economic costs of desalination with case studies from Orange County and San Diego; and more sustainable and equitable options for our water future.
 

With a lively question and answer session following the presentations, the take home message was clear: open-ocean desalination should be pursued as a last resort, only after preferable options - like reclaiming more wastewater from the Hyperion Treatment Plant just up the coast from the proposed desalination facility - are exhausted.
 
"West Basin has been a longtime leader on recycling wastewater," noted LAW Executive Director Bruce Reznik. "It is our sincere hope that they abandon their misguided effort to pursue open-ocean desalination, and instead redouble their successful efforts on water reclamation."
 
This town hall - which took place in one of two cities served by West Basin that have voted to oppose the desalination project (Hermosa Beach being the other) - was the first such community event organized by the environmental coalition. It is our intent to host similar events in other areas served by West Basin in the coming months.
 
The event was live streamed, and a video of the proceedings can be found here
CCD
Clean Up the Coast with LAW!

Please join LAW as we participate in Coastal Cleanup Day! In partnership with the California Coastal Commission and Heal the Bay, we host a cleanup site each year at Dockweiler Beach.

Join us on Saturday, September 17th as we do our part to remove trash and recyclables from the beach as well as from the ocean itself. That's right - our unique site features a sea cleanup by volunteer scuba divers!

Coastal Cleanup Day is part of the International Coastal Cleanup (organized by the Ocean Conservancy), which is the largest volunteer event in the world. Last year, nearly 800,000 volunteers collected over 18 million pounds of debris from beaches, lakes and waterways across the globe. 

Please register here , and contact Sharon at  sharon@LAWaterkeeper.org  with any questions.