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.
State Boards 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 Californias 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 Countys 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 NRDCs Web site at www.nrdc.org.
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