Our Litigation team works to identify the worst and most egregious water quality violations in Los Angeles County, and then uses one of the most effective and efficient tools we have to protect them–the law. Recognized not only as the defenders of all waterways throughout LA since 1993, we have successfully settled numerous cases that set and enforce the limits on pollution that reaches L.A. County waterways.

Our previous major legal victories include our settlement over beach water pollution with the City of Malibu, a landmark case against the City of Los Angeles which resulted in a dramatic reduction in sanitary sewer overflows, and successful litigation against industrial scrap metal recycling and auto dismantling yards in south Los Angeles forcing industrial facilities to implement measures to control and treat toxic stormwater discharges. We consistently monitor these, and all of our past settlement agreements, to ensure compliance with their terms. Our goal is to provide full protection for the environment through undertaking long-term, sustainable measures to control storm water at each of the sites and cities we have litigated against.

Current Cases


California Sea Otter Victory

In December 2012, the US Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) finally terminated the “no otter zone”, allowing the California sea otter to return to our coastal waters under the full protection of the Endangered Species Act. In July 2013, the California Sea Urchin Commissions, together with other fishing industry interest groups, filed a lawsuit challenging the removal of the “no otter zone”, claiming that the sea otter will eat the marine life that they catch for business. Together with The Otter Project and the Environmental Defense Center, Los Angeles Waterkeeper intervened on behalf of FWS to defend our marine ecosystem that has been so negatively affected by the absence of the sea otter. Our goal was to ensure that the termination of the “no otter zone” is upheld. On October 29, 2018, we were victorious! In a major victory for threatened southern sea otters, the U.S. Supreme Court denied a petition to consider the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision — putting an end to years of litigation, and finally restoring protections for sea otters in Southern California. Otters will be welcome to populate their entire historic range along the California coast, while receiving protections under the Endangered Species Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act. The sea otter victory stands!

LA River

LA County Stormwater Pollution Victory

On November 28, 2016, a judge approved a settlement with Los Angeles County that will result in the County funding $4 million in environmental improvements – including $2.8 million for a Green Streets project in the historic community of Watts and $1.2 million for residential retrofits across the county to capture stormwater that otherwise might run off into the ocean. The settlement resolves a lawsuit originally filed by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Los Angeles Waterkeeper against the County and the Los Angeles County Flood Control District in 2008. Our lawsuit succeeded in holding the County liable for nearly five hundred violations of the County’s federal Clean Water Act permit in the Los Angeles and San Gabriel rivers. The environmental projects in this settlement agreement will help the County clean up the toxic mix of pollution found in billions of gallons of annual stormwater runoff.

Learn more.


Six Flags Magic Mountain Case

In June, 2012, our Litigation team, together with  Ventura Coastkeeper, and Friends of the Santa Clara River, filed a lawsuit against Six Flags Magic Mountain for violations of their individual Clean Water Act Permit and the General Industrial Storm Water Permit by discharging thousands of gallons of untreated storm water and trash into the Santa Clara River and, ultimately, the Pacific Ocean.

In September 2013, Magic Mountain attempted to evade liability for the violations, but was rejected by the District Court. Our claims for violations of the the General Industrial Storm Water Permit will proceed in court soon.


Industrial Facilities Case

In September 2013, we sent notices of intent (NOI) to file Clean Water Act citizen lawsuits to five industrial recycling facilities in the LA area. Our goal is to force the facilities to eliminate their storm water pollution discharges of heavy metals, achieve compliance with water quality standards and industrial benchmarks, and meet the monitoring and reporting requirements of the General Industrial Storm Water Permit.


Contact Us

LA Waterkeeper
120 Broadway, Suite 105
Santa Monica, CA 90401

Phone: 310-394-6162
Fax: 310-394-6178

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