• DEFEND THE BAY WINS MAJOR VICTORY AGAINST IRVINE RANCH WATER DISTRICT


• STATE WATER BOARD DECISION CLEARS WAY FOR PROTECTION OF
34 SPECIAL MARINE AREAS ALONG CALIFORNIA COAST

 



Major Ruling Comes in Case Involving Polluted Runoff
Discharges to Crystal Cove in Orange County

LOS ANGELES (April 27, 2001) – Yesterday the State Water Resources Control Board, the state agency responsible for protecting water quality, issued an order enforcing a 27-year old state requirement prohibiting storm water discharges into the waters of Crystal Cove, an area designated by California as a unique Area of Special Biological Significance (ASBS). The Cease and Desist Order, originally issued by the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board on November 16, 2000, set a two-year deadline for Caltrans, the Irvine Company, and the California Department of Parks to cease their discharges into Crystal Cove. Caltrans alone appealed the order to the State Water Board, claiming that its storm water should not be considered waste.

The State Water Board rejected outright Caltrans’ contention that its storm water did not contain pollution regulated by the Clean Water Act and the State of California. The Board also rejected an earlier proposal to extend the time for Caltrans to comply with the order until 2005. The Board noted that Caltrans did not really need five years to design and construct the appropriate structures to comply with the order. Instead, the State Board ordered Caltrans to comply with the order in its entirety by November, 2003. "We are pleased that the State Board took appropriate action to ensure Caltrans’ compliance with the 27-year old discharge prohibition at the earliest possible date," said Robert Caustin, Founding Director of Newport Beach-based Defend the Bay. Defend the Bay, along with the Natural Resources Defense Council, filed detailed opposition papers on behalf of the environmental community in response to Caltrans’ appeal to the State Board.

The State Board’s decision is critical because it will protect not only Crystal Cove,  but also all other similarly designated areas located throughout the state. There are 34 specially designated Areas of Special Biological Significance in California, including the Farallon Islands, Point Reyes Headland Reserve, San Diego Marine Life Refuge, and areas of Santa Catalina Island and the Channel Islands. Each designation is based on the judgment of California’s resource agencies that a combination of water quality, biological attributes, and other natural resources merits special protection. "The State Water Board has cleared the way to protect the most special places along the California coast from the number one source of water pollution," said David Beckman, Senior Attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council. "This is a very important victory for the California coast," added NRDC attorney Heather Hoecherl, "because it is impossible to protect water quality in California unless polluted runoff is controlled."

Defend The Bay is a non-profit Newport Beach-based environmental organization dedicated to the protection of Newport Bay and coastal waters in Orange County. Founded in 1995, Defend The Bay employs a unique mix of education, science, and law as tools to preserve and protect Orange County’s heritage and crown environmental jewels.  More information is available through Defend The Bay's Web Site at: www.DefendTheBay.org

NRDC is a national, non-profit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, the organization has more than 400,000 members nationwide, served from offices in New York, Washington, Los Angeles and San Francisco. More information is available through NRDC’s Web site at www.nrdc.org.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, PLEASE CONTACT:

Robert Caustin, Defend The Bay: (949) 757-0017