Press Releases

Los Angeles Waterkeeper Prevails in Historic Wastewater Recycling Suit 

Precedent-Setting Decision Could Benefit 10 Million Residents

Los Angeles – August 12, 2020 — The Los Angeles Superior Court issued a historic ruling, in favor of Los Angeles Waterkeeper, that compels the State’s Water Resources Control Board (California’s lead water quality agency) to analyze whether it is “wasteful” and “unreasonable” to dump billions of gallons of wastewater uselessly into the sea, when it could instead be used productively to ensure the sustainability of California’s water resources.

The plants – Hyperion, Tillman, Burbank and Los Angeles-Glendale — dump an average of nearly 270 million gallons of treated water into the Los Angeles River and Pacific Ocean every day. Hyperion alone discharges enough treated wastewater into the ocean to fill the Rose Bowl 2 ½ times over every day. During most days, treated discharge from sewage plants makes up the majority of flow in the LA River.

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Los Angeles Waterkeeper Sues to Stop South Bay Desal

Watchdog group files lawsuit challenging West Basin’s inadequate Environmental Impact Report

Los Angeles – December 18, 2019 — Today, Los Angeles Waterkeeper filed a lawsuit to prevent the West Basin Municipal Water District from moving forward with its proposed 20 million gallons-per-day* ocean desalination facility on the coast in El Segundo, CA.

The lawsuit challenges West Basin’s Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the project, which LA Waterkeeper contends falls significantly below the standards required of it by the California Environmental Quality Act. In its claim, LA Waterkeeper (LAW) cites a myriad of deficiencies within the EIR, including its failure to adequately analyze alternatives, reliance on false assumptions, and omission of the harmful impacts of the desalination facility.

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West Basin Moves Proposed Desal Facility Forward Despite Growing Public Opposition

West Basin Board voted 4-1 to pursue its proposed ocean desalination plant despite cries from opposition to pursue smarter options

CARSON – November 19, 2019—A coalition of environmentalists, climate and public health advocates, and concerned LA County residents gathered outside a West Basin Special Board Meeting to oppose its proposed 20 million gallons-per-day* ocean desalination facility on the coast in El Segundo, citing major fiscal and environmental concerns. The West Basin Municipal Water District, a water wholesaler that serves nearly one million people in 17 cities in Los Angeles County, released the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) for the project on Oct. 23 before holding the five-hour hearing yesterday.

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River Defenders Win Major Victory for CA Waterways

Ruling requires state compliance with the Clean Water Act

SACRAMENTO – September 9, 2019 — Sacramento, CA (Sept 9, 2019)—A coalition of river and coastal defenders have won a major victory against the State Water Resources Control Board (Water Board), securing an order that requires the Water Board to meet the statutory deadlines for its list of impaired waterways in California. The lawsuit focused on the Water Board’s violations of the Clean Water Act and the Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act, the latter being California’s guiding clean water law that protects the health of the state’s inland and coastal waters.

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Prolific Costs of Proposed South Bay Ocean Desalination Plant Exposed

Smarter Water LA coalition calls on new West Basin General Manager to abandon plans for proposed ocean desalination facility

LOS ANGELES – February 26, 2018 – Today, a coalition of environmentalists, public health advocates, and LA County residents formalized its opposition to a proposed ocean desalination plant in the South Bay. Dubbed “Smarter Water LA,” the alliance launched a new website and released a revealing analysis of the energy needs and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with the controversial project.

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Revitalization Plan for Lower LA River Misses Opportunity for Watershed-Level Changes

LA Waterkeeper Highlights Draft Proposal’s Room for Improvement

LOS ANGELES – December 12, 2017 — Last Thursday, the Lower LA River Working Group released its Draft Revitalization Plan for the section of the river from Vernon to Long Beach. Los Angeles Waterkeeper (LAW) finds that the document falls considerably short of its original intention to develop a “revitalization plan for the Lower Los Angeles River watershed,” as it instead proposes a beautified channel.

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$300,000 Settlement with Concrete Mixing Facilities to Benefit Wildlife Restoration

Industrial sites to update practices to limit stormwater pollution; Water nonprofits celebrate improved water quality from Newport Bay to Long Beach

ORANGE COUNTY – December 11, 2017 — This month, Associated Ready Mixed Concrete (Associated) and A&A Ready Mixed Concrete (A&A) agreed to address water quality violations and comply with clean water regulations, following legal action from Orange County Coastkeeper and Los Angeles Waterkeeper. As a result of the case, the companies committed to changing practices to prevent further pollution and the District Court approved a $300,000 settlement, including funds to support local environmental restoration.

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Sunset Gala to Celebrate LA Water Leaders on October 3

Los Angeles Waterkeeper hosts annual fundraiser to honor regional and statewide environmental leadership

LOS ANGELES, September 28, 2017—On Tuesday, October 3, Los Angeles Waterkeeper (LAW) presents its annual gala, Making Waves, at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica. This year, the event honors the Golden State’s resilience in the face of relentless federal attacks on California’s clean water and environmental protections.

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Environmental Watchdog Brings Constitutional Challenge to Enhance Region’s Water Supply

Los Angeles Waterkeeper files lawsuit seeking to expand the use of purified wastewater

LOS ANGELES, September 27, 2017—Yesterday, Los Angeles Waterkeeper (LAW) filed four related lawsuits in an effort to dramatically increase the purification, reclamation, and reuse of wastewater that is currently discharged into the Los Angeles River and Santa Monica Bay…

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Los Angeles Groups Press Legislators to Support Bills Protecting Area’s Water, Air and Workers from Federal Threats

LOS ANGELES, August 21, 2017A coalition of Los Angeles community groups today called on the area’s state legislators to support a package of bills designed to protect the region’s water and air from federal attempts to weaken environmental safeguards. The package is authored by area legislators Senate President pro Tem Kevin De León (D-Los Angeles)…

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 Precedent-Setting Lawsuit Turns LA Water Polluter into Industry Champion

Davis Wire Agrees to Zero Discharge in Settlement with LA Waterkeeper

LOS ANGELES, July 7, 2017—On June 30, US District Court Judge Philip S. Gutierrez issued an order entering the consent decree between Los Angeles Waterkeeper (LAW) and Davis Wire Corporation. LAW filed a lawsuit against the wire drawing and manufacturing facility in 2016 for exceeding pollutant allowances in the facility’s stormwater discharge.

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Smarter Water Town Hall Packs the House in Culver City

Local Water Experts Expose Shortcomings of Proposed Ocean Desalination Plant and Highlight Alternatives

LOS ANGELES, May 12, 2017—Culver City residents and other engaged community members convened at the Veterans Memorial Building last night for an enlightening community discussion on the future of LA’s most precious resource: water. The Smarter Water Town Hall, which took over a regular meeting of the West LA Group of the Sierra Club Angeles Chapter, was organized by a coalition of environmental groups in response to West Basin Municipal Water District’s proposed ocean desalination plant along the coast.

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Celebrate Earth Day at Los Angeles Waterkeeper’s 6th Annual Stand Up for Clean Water Event

Unique paddleboard race and marine celebration to bring hundreds to Paradise Cove in Malibu on April 22

LOS ANGELES, April 5, 2017—On Saturday, April 22, Los Angeles Waterkeeper welcomes ocean enthusiasts to Paradise Cove in Malibu for one of Southern California’s largest stand up paddle (SUP) board races, Stand Up For Clean Water, a Waterkeeper Alliance SPLASH Event presented nationally by Toyota and locally by LA Sanitation. Each year, the event draws hundreds of paddlers and community members together for a packed day of races, beach games, live music, and more in celebration of the California coastline.

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L.A. County Agrees to Fund $4 Million in Stormwater Projects and Watts Green Street

Settlement with NRDC and LA Waterkeeper will support regional clean water projects and long-standing revitalization efforts in the historic community

LOS ANGELES, November 28, 2016—A judge approved a settlement with Los Angeles County on Wednesday afternoon 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. The 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.

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Dive Team Heads Underwater to Begin its Investigation of Controlling Invasive Species

LA Waterkeeper’s scientific divers plunge into the Palos Verdes Peninsula to survey plots for algae removal

LOS ANGELES, November 23, 2016— Today, marine watchdog group Los Angeles Waterkeeper alerts all beachgoers and coastal enthusiasts to look out for its team of volunteer scientific divers in the water. LA Waterkeeper’s Dive Team is conducting an investigation into the effectiveness of removing invasive algae to restore habitats along the Palos Verdes coastline. The investigation specifically studies the non-native algae species Sargassum horneri. In 2003, Sargassum horneri was introduced to Long Beach Harbor in the form of biological pollution from commercial shipping vessels. Commonly called the “devil weed,” sargassum originates from Japan and Korea, but it has spread as far south as Baja, Mexico and north to Santa Barbara.

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Local Nonprofits to Launch Program Identifying Sources of Pollution in Los Angeles River

LA Waterkeeper and Friends of the Los Angeles River to partner with community members to understand LA River health

LOS ANGELES, October 17, 2016— Today, water watchdog Los Angeles Waterkeeper, in partnership with long-time river advocate Friends of the Los Angeles River (FoLAR), announced the launch of the River Assessment Fieldwork Team (RAFT), a joint water monitoring program, which engages community scientists to monitor water quality of the Los Angeles River. RAFT prepares volunteers with the training, supervision and equipment needed to collect scientifically accurate water quality samples and data from storm drains along two sections of the LA River in Glendale and Maywood, while empowering residents to contribute to the dialogue surrounding LA River restoration.

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State Water Board Report Shows Safe Direct Potable Reuse for Recycled Water is Possible

LA Waterkeeper says prioritizing regulations are necessary to create a more drought resilient Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES, October 4, 2016 — On September 8, the State Water Resources Control Board released a draft report stating that regulations for direct potable reuse are feasible. Los Angeles Waterkeeper says the creation of these regulations need to be a high priority for the State Water Board as direct potable reuse is the key to building a drought-proof, sustainable water supply for Los Angeles. Direct potable reuse is the addition of highly purified recycled water into the drinking water supply— as opposed to indirect potable reuse, where the purified recycled water is first introduced to an environmental buffer before used for drinking water.

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Waterkeeper Files Lawsuit Against State Water Board for Violating Pollution Standards

Water watchdogs say Water Board is allowing dangerous levels of copper, lead into Los Angeles’ waters

LOS ANGELES, July 18, 2016 — Today, Los Angeles Waterkeeper filed a lawsuit against the California State Water Resources Control Board and the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board for its decision permitting excessive copper and lead pollution in the Los Angeles River and its tributaries. According to LA Waterkeeper, the State and Regional Water Boards’ actions greatly relax existing regulations controlling the amount of lead in the river and increase the legal limits for copper in the river by up to 1,000 percent. Both Water Board’s approved a set of new standards — known as site-specific water-quality objectives — that override more protective water quality standards.

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Amid Continuing Drought, Environmental & Environmental Justice Groups Applaud Introduction of SB 1298

Hertzberg bill will make it easier for local governments and agencies to treat and reuse stormwater, incentivize water conservation, and assist low income water users

LOS ANGELES, June 14, 2016 – With California’s historic drought still ongoing, State Senator Robert M. Hertzberg yesterday introduced SB 1298 (“Sustainable Funding for Local Water Agencies Act”), which if passed will gives cities, counties and local water agencies broader authority to finance local water projects and programs. Specifically, SB 1298 adds a missing definition of “sewer service” that includes stormwater, so local governments can more easily finance and build those projects. The bill also provides options for water agencies to develop rates that low-income households can afford and that encourage users to conserve.

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New Data Visualization Shows Massive Climate Benefit of Water Conservation

LA Waterkeeper says State Water Board’s weakening of drought regulations harms our environment

LOS ANGELES, June 3, 2016 — Data compiled by the University of California Davis Center for Water-Energy Efficiency shows that the state’s nearly 25 percent reduction in water usage also reduced electricity usage in the state. In fact, according to the analysis, it did so more than all of the other energy efficiency practices undertaken during the same time period combined, and at less than a third of the cost of those measures. Los Angeles Waterkeeper says the State Water Resources Control Board needlessly softened a cost-effective program that successfully saved resources and lowered the state’s carbon footprint.

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May 18 – Waterkeeper Responds to State Water Board’s Consideration to Readopt Drought Emergency Regulations

Please consider this statement in response to today’s California State Water Resources Control Board’s consideration of a proposed resolution amending and readopting drought-related emergency regulations for urban water conservation. This statement is submitted by Los Angeles Waterkeeper Executive Director Bruce Reznik. He may be reached for further comment by contacting Lauren Zerweck at 619-315-1905 or

“Nearly 72 percent of the state remains in severe drought conditions and snowpack is at only half the average for this time of year. Clearly, we are not out of the drought, so the question is: why would the State Water Board choose to weaken and undermine a tremendously effective conservation program that is one of the most successful water programs ever enacted in the state? This type of antiquated approach to water is what got us in a crisis in the first place.

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Waterkeeper Protects Los Angeles From More Than 3000 Clean Water Violations

Clean water advocate wins in court against two polluting businesses

LOS ANGELES, April 7, 2016 — On March 17, 2016, the US District Court ruled in favor of clean water in Los Angeles, holding Liberty Metal Recycling accountable for egregious pollution in violation of the federal Clean Water Act. This ruling comes on the heels of a November 18, 2015 ruling against A&A Metal Recycling, a related company. The court-ordered penalties for the Los Angeles facilities help address the 3,151 violations identified in the complaints filed by Los Angeles Waterkeeper in March 2015. These violations included releasing toxic levels of pollutants from the facilities into Los Angeles’ stormwater system, which empties into the Los Angeles River and ultimately flows to the Los Angeles/Long Beach Harbor, San Pedro Bay, Long Beach City Beach and the Pacific Ocean.

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Los Angeles Waterkeeper Announces Celebrity Hosts Of 2016 Stand Up for Clean Water Paddle Board Race

Environmental hero Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and champion paddleboarder Anthony Vela to promote healthy oceans on April 16

LOS ANGELES, March 30, 2016 — Today, Los Angeles Waterkeeper announces that international environmental hero Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and world-renowned paddleboarder and surfer Anthony Vela will lead its 5th annual paddleboard race, Stand Up For Clean Water. The race is one of the largest of its kind in the nation and organizers expect nearly 300 paddleboarders to participate in support of clean water.

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Pollution Lawsuit to Benefit Blighted Los Angeles Neighborhood

Los Angeles Waterkeeper pleased to see settlement funds awarded to new project to improve water quality

LOS ANGELES, March 24, 2016— Tonight, Pacoima Beautiful announced the Bradley Green Alley Project — its urban greening initiative to convert a blighted, crime-ridden alley into a new community amenity. Los Angeles Waterkeeper is pleased to see nearly $200,000 awarded to the project through the Liberty Hill Foundation as a result of a settlement Waterkeeper reached with Community Recycling & Resource Recovery, Inc.

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Los Angeles Waterkeeper Announces Youth Involvement for 5th Annual Stand Up for Clean Water Event

Aidan Gallagher and Erika Benitez launch kids paddleboard race on April 16th

LOS ANGELES, March 23, 2016 — Two local celebrities will lead the children’s paddleboard races at LA Waterkeeper’s 5th annual Stand Up for Clean Water — a Waterkeeper Alliance SPLASH Series Event presented nationally by Toyota and locally by Whole Foods Market. Over 300 paddle boarders, clean water supporters and outdoor enthusiasts are expected to attend the benefit — including hundreds of kids.

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Environmentalists Applaud City of Hermosa Beach’s Vote to Oppose Coastal Desalination

Organizations say the City shares Manhattan Beach’s preference for recycled wastewater

LOS ANGELES, March 22, 2016 — Tonight, the Hermosa Beach City Council approved its letter of opposition to the West Basin Ocean Water Desalination Project being proposed by the West Basin Municipal Water District. Hermosa Beach’s decision comes on the heels of Manhattan Beach similarly opposing the proposed project on February 16, meaning two of the 17 cities served by West Basin Municipal Water District have now come out opposed to the plan.

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Los Angeles Waterkeeper Announces April 16 for 5th Annual Stand Up for Clean Water Event

Hundreds to join for iconic paddleboard race on beautiful Marine Protected Area 

LOS ANGELES, March 8, 2016 — On Saturday, April 16, Los Angeles Waterkeeper invites clean water supporters and outdoors enthusiasts to Stand Up for Clean Water — one of the largest stand-up paddle boarding events in Los Angeles and a Waterkeeper Alliance SPLASH Series Event presented nationally by Toyota and locally by Whole Foods Market. Over 300 paddle boarders are expected to participate in the races that take place on the Point Dume State Marine Reserve — a Marine Protected Area (MPA) where fishing is restricted but non-consumptive recreational uses like paddling and diving are allowed and even encouraged.

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Los Angeles Waterkeeper Applauds City of Manhattan Beach’s Vote to Oppose Desalination

Organization says better option is to purify wastewater at the Hyperion facility

LOS ANGELES, February 17, 2016 — Last night, the Manhattan Beach City Council unanimously approved its letter of opposition to the West Basin Desalination Project, proposed by the West Basin Municipal Water District. Los Angeles Waterkeeper, an organization that protects and promotes clean water in Los Angeles County, commends the vote and encourages other city councils to follow suit.

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District Court Upholds Efforts to Reduce Pollution in Malibu Creek

Judge upholds EPA’s effort to protect water quality in important Los Angeles waterway

LOS ANGELES, February 9, 2016 — Marking an important victory for one of Los Angeles County’s few remaining natural watersheds, a federal district court this week upheld a plan established by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to significantly reduce pollution and protect water quality in Malibu Creek.

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September 21, 2015–In a major victory for threatened southern sea otters, U.S. District Court Judge John F. Walter on Friday issued a ruling denying a challenge by some fishing organizations to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Serve (FWS) decision that has restored protections for sea otters in Southern California. Environmental Defense Center, The Otter Project and Los Angeles Waterkeeper intervened in the case on behalf of the FWS.

View Federal Judge Upholds Protections for Southern Sea Otter_ Press Release


March 31, 2015— Recently Los Angeles Waterkeeper, Wishtoyo Foundation, Wishtoyo Foundation’s Ventura Coastkeeper Program and Friends of the Santa Clara River reached an agreement with Magic Mountain to address pollution in the Santa Clara River. The environmental groups filed a lawsuit in 2012 under the federal Clean Water Act, alleging that the amusement park’s stormwater discharges violate water quality limits.

In addition to making a substantial contribution to an environmental project designed to protect the Santa Clara River, Magic Mountain will develop and implement an improved Facility Trash Management Plan as well as new and improved best management practices to ensure compliance with the Clean Water Act and to protect the Santa Clara River.

View Clean Water Act Settlement_Magic Mountain_Press Release


November 12, 2014— The City of Santa Monica is partnering with Los Angeles Waterkeeper’s “Go Dirty for the Drought” campaign to raise awareness and conserve water during California’s worst drought in history. Over 300 city vehicles, including the Big Blue Bus, which serves over 52,000 customers per day, are participating in the ‘Dirty Car’ Pledge beginning today.

Just six weeks into the campaign, LA Waterkeeper has received almost 6,000 “Dirty Car” pledges from residents throughout the state of California, saving more than 1 million gallons of water.

Other local governments in LA County have joined the effort as a result of the City of Santa Monica’s decision to participate. The City of Burbank has pledged to not wash over 350 vehicles for 60 days.

View City of Santa Monica takes Dirty Car Pledge_ Press Release

City of SM Goes Dirty

October 16, 2014– Los Angeles Waterkeeper filed a lawsuit against Community Recycling and Resource Recovery, Inc. and Crown Disposal, Inc. (collectively “Crown Disposal”) for violations of federal and state clean water laws and permits at their Community Recycling facility in Sun Valley. At more than 12 acres, the Community Recycling facility is one of the largest waste transfer facilities in California. Stormwater samples show the facility persistently discharges illegal and dangerously high levels of fecal bacteria, heavy metals (including mercury, lead and cadmium), oil and grease, and contaminated sediment into the LA River watershed, and ultimately, the Pacific Ocean.

View Community Recycling_ Press Release_IMG_0922

October 7, 2014-– Thousands of Angelinos are taking the “Dirty Car Pledge” to not wash their cars for 60 days in response to the worst drought in California’s recorded history. Los Angeles Waterkeeper’s campaign “Go Dirty for the Drought” is an effort to raise awareness about the severity of the drought and empower individuals to prioritize water conservation.

When you take the Dirty Car Pledge, Los Angeles Waterkeeper will send you a static-cling sticker for the inside window of your car, which serves as proof of a great excuse for a dirty car, and helps spread the word about water conservation while driving throughout the city and sharing it on social media. Los Angeles Waterkeeper also intends for the campaign to urge state and local agencies to increase conservation, launch new stormwater capture and recycling programs, and to better educate Angelinos about the drought.

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View Go Dirty for the Drought_ Press Release

September 20, 2014-– Over 350 volunteers collected and removed 200 lbs of trash at Dockweiler Beach, Tower 60 as part of Los Angeles Waterkeeper’s Coastal Cleanup Day. LA Waterkeeper’s beach cleanup site uniquely featured a sea cleanup by volunteer scuba divers and a “Pellet Watch” where volunteers sifted through sand for micro-plastics (broken down plastic that comes from factories, industrial plants and plastic litter). After the cleanup, volunteers were treated to lunch provided by Gaetano’s Restaurant and live music by The Sycons: Solar DJs and Alicia Murphy.


July 31, 2014-– Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi joined Los Angeles Waterkeeper yesterday morning on the organization’s Marine Protected Areas (MPA) Watch Boat Trip to experience, first hand, the MPAs located off the coast of Palos Verdes and see how they are being monitored by LA Waterkeeper.

“The protection of our coast and ocean is a priority for the South Bay,” said Assemblymember Muratsuchi. “I’m glad groups like LA Waterkeeper have stepped in to monitor our coast and Marine Protected Areas. I will continue to fight to protect our coastal resources. ”

View Assemblymember Muratsuchi_MPA Watch Trip_ Press Release

PV MPA Boat Trip

July 1, 2014--Los Angeles Waterkeeper is partnering with local non-profit organizations Venice YouthBuild and New Earth in an effort to educate at-risk youth about environmental issues and expand community involvement to raise awareness about their mission to protect and restore LA County waterways and ocean. Youth from both programs are spending their volunteer hours on LA Waterkeeper’s Marine Protected Areas (MPA) Watch Boat Trips.

View LA Waterkeeper Partners with Local Non Profits to Educate At-Risk Youth_ Press Release

Harry Grammer and Members of New Earth

June 23, 2014-– Over 350 people gathered at The Fairmont Miramar Hotel on Thursday, June 19, 2014 for LA Waterkeeper’s annual fundraiser, Making Waves, to celebrate LA Waterkeeper’s and the City of Los Angeles’s decade long joint effort to protect our beaches, bays and local waterways.

In 1998, LA Waterkeeper sued the City of Los Angeles for sewage spills that contaminated our water. In 2004, the City of Los Angeles and LA Waterkeeper reached a settlement agreement- the Collection System Settlement Agreement (CSSA)- that required the City to take drastic measures to clean up their system and eliminate the pollution. Since the baseline year, the City and LA Sanitation have reduced sewage spill overflows by 82%.

In addition to honoring the City of Los Angeles and LA Sanitation at Making Waves, LA Waterkeeper also recognized their new Ambassadors: Sam George, professional writer, director, and surfer; Jennifer Boysen, artist; and Anne Litt, DJ for KCRW and Music Supervisor for television and film.

View LA_Waterkeeper_Making Waves 2014_Press Release


May 5, 2014– A decision today by the U.S. Supreme Court will protect millions of people living near and visiting Los Angeles rivers and beaches from the harmful effects of water pollution. The Supreme Court declined Los Angeles County and the County Flood Control District’s request to review a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling finding Los Angeles County liable for untreated stormwater pollution that plagues local waterways. The decision stems from a lawsuit initiated by Los Angeles Waterkeeper and the Natural Resources Defense Council in 2008.

“Today represents a significant milestone in efforts to clean up the Los Angeles and San Gabriel rivers. No longer can the County deny the problem. No longer can the County ignore the law,” said Liz Crosson, Executive Director of Los Angeles Waterkeeper.

View Supreme Court Allows Major Southern CA Water Quality Victory to Stand_Press Release

LA River

April 15, 2014– On Saturday, April 12, 2014, over 350 people attended Los Angeles Waterkeeper’s annual Stand-Up For Clean Water paddleboard race at Paradise Cove in Malibu to raise awareness about water quality issues and the importance of clean water in Los Angeles. In collaboration with Waterkeeper Alliance’s SPLASH series, the event featured a 5 Mile Competitive Race, 1 Mile Fun Race, and Relay Race for stand-up and prone paddlers. Famous surfers and paddlers including Mickey Munoz, Sam George, Jamie Mitchell and Jim Terrell were among the hundreds of racers participating. Following the races, guests enjoyed food and drinks donated by Paradise Cove Beach Cafe and New Belgium Brewing while listening to an all-star celebrity band.

10155636_10101369026836219_1437416115277350190_nView Hundreds Stand-Up Paddle for Clean Water_ Press Release

March 17, 2014UPDATE ON MAGIC MOUNTAIN CASE–Los Angeles Waterkeeper is in the process of suing Magic Mountain for discharging polluted storm water with high levels of toxic metals, bacteria and trash in violation of the requirements of the General Industrial Storm Water Permit and their Individual Storm Water Permit. On March 17th, the court ruled in LA Waterkeeper’s favor finding that Magic Mountain has not demonstrated that the California General Industrial Storm Water Permit does not cover their facility, meaning that our claims for violations of this permit remain fully viable. View the Court Order here.


March 4, 2014— Los Angeles Waterkeeper, The Otter Project, and Environmental Defense Center celebrated a court decision rejecting a fishing industry lawsuit challenging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) December, 2012 decision officially ending the “no-otter zone”. This important FWS decision allows threatened sea otters to begin to regain foothold in their natural range in Southern California– an outcome vital to the recovery of the species. The lawsuit, filed by the California Sea Urchin Commission, alleged that FWS did not have authority to end the “no-0tter zone”. In dismissing the lawsuit yesterday, Judge Gee found that the lawsuit was in fact a direct challenge to a 1987 rule requiring FWS to end the program if it met several specific criteria, and thus was brought 20 years too late.

Southern Sea OtterView No-Otter Zone Press Release

February 6, 2014– In an effort to protect and improve water quality in Marina del Rey Harbor, the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board’s (“Regional Board”) Marina del Rey Harbor Draft Copper Water Quality Plan to reduce the amount of copper in Marina del Rey Harbor by 85% in 10 years has passed by a vote of 6-0. Los Angeles Waterkeeper participated in the public comment period and testified at the Regional Board’s February 6th hearing in support of this action.

Marina del Rey Harbor, one of the most toxic harbors on the west coast, is known for water recreation, marine and wildlife habitat, shellfish harvesting, and commercial and sports fishing. In addition to the nearly 5,000 boat owners in the Harbor, this new regulation will positively impact recreational businesses, shopping venues, and nearby hospitality businesses because the Harbor will be cleaner and safer.

“Marina del Rey Harbor is not just a gateway to the Santa Monica Bay, it’s a fishing spot and recreational area in and of itself, ” said Lara Meeker, Watershed Program Manager at Los Angeles Waterkeeper. “The Harbor is home to many species, including some that were here back when it was a wetland, and it’s a valuable public resource that is being degraded. The Regional Board’s sources assessment analysis estimates that more than three tons of copper leach into the marina from resident boats every year.”

LA Waterkeeper’s boat, “Waterkeeper”, is used for Marine Protected Areas (MPA) Watch and Kelp Restoration programs, and has been docked in Marina del Rey Harbor for over 10 years. As leaders of environmental practice, LA Waterkeeper switched to non-copper based paint on their boat 5 years ago, and strongly supports the new amendment requiring boat owners to do the same.

IMG_0701View Future is Bright for Marina del Rey Harbor Toxic Water_ Press Release

January 17, 2014— While water agencies in Southern California continue to say that water supplies are ample for the next couple of years, Governor Brown announced today the drought in California a State of Emergency.

LA Waterkeeper Executive Director Liz Crosson both appreciates and raises concerns about the Governor’s declaration. “Although LA Waterkeeper commends the Governor bringing this to the attention of all Californians, this acknowledgement of what may become the ‘new normal’ should be used as a platform to discuss long-term sustainable solutions and not outdated infrastructure projects or relaxed regulation of our precious water resources.”

Los Angeles has historically relied on water imported from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and Colorado River to meet its needs, and now these sources are over-tapped. With our population growing, changing climate patterns, and oversubscribed aquifer and river systems, LA needs to find new sources of water, such as use of stormwater as a resource for augmenting local groundwater aquifers, to address the drought. Los Angeles Waterkeeper, whose mission is to protect and restore LA County’s water resources, urges state and local agencies to prioritize conservation and water reuse and recycling in LA in order to solve the water supply crisis.


View “LA Waterkeeper Evaluates Long Term Solutions to CA Drought” Press Release

View LA Waterkeeper’s Emergency Drought Declaration Statement

December 9, 2013 —  Los Angeles Waterkeeper is investigating over two dozen industrial facilities throughout Los Angeles County suspected of violating federal and state clean water laws. Storm water samples collected at these facilities during the first rain of the season in October show dangerously high levels of fecal bacteria and heavy metals, including aluminum, copper, iron, mercury, and lead, demonstrating once again the significant environmental impacts of storm water pollution and the pressing need for a lasting solution of this persistent problem.

Industrial facilities including scrap metal yards and waste transfer stations are required to obtain a Clean Water Act permit, which sets limits on the amount of pollutants that are discharged from their site. However, Los Angeles Waterkeeper has found that many facilities in Los Angeles are either routinely violating their permit or operating without one.

Water samples were collected at the suspected facilities and analyzed at state-certified labs to determine if they exceed legal limits, which are based on the level of pollution that is safe for human body-contact and consumption, and aquatic life. Lab results from one site showed the facility was discharging storm water containing fecal bacteria levels hundreds of times over the legal water quality standards limit. Results from other facilities revealed aluminum concentrations thousands of times over the limit, as well as copper, iron, mercury and lead also well above safe levels. Many of these pollutants are on the list of chemicals published by the State of California as known to cause cancer, birth defects and developmental or reproductive harm.

The data collected by Los Angeles Waterkeeper is being used to take action and stop the pollution. If necessary, Los Angeles Waterkeeper will proceed with their own litigation, with an end goal of forcing facilities to eliminate their storm water pollution discharges.


View “Water Sample Results from ‘First Flush’ Rain Shows Illegal and Dangerous Levels of Pollution” Press Release

November 13, 2013– Valero Energy Corporation has announced plans to transport tar sands oil from Canada to their Wilmington refinery by rail. Transporting massive volumes of oil by train into Los Angeles presents major threats to water quality and public health, given the compounded threat of this heavy, corrosive, and toxic oil and increasing risks of oil-by-rail transportation.

“Bringing tar sands oil by rail into Los Angeles County has significant water quality and human threats. A spill from this unconventional oil could devastate our groundwater, creeks, rivers and ocean,” said Brian Meux, Marine Program Manager at Los Angeles Waterkeeper.

Tar sands bitumen is a low quality, heavy toxic tar-like substance,  and has high levels of heavy metals that can accumulate in the environment, causing health hazards to humans and wildlife.  With regards to preparedness for inland oil spills, Los Angeles Waterkeeper is concerned about the current lack of state-level funding for inland spill response, and is working with state agencies to try and evaluate these new risks and appropriate resources and effective methods to address this issue. Los Angeles Waterkeeper also urges the City of Los Angeles and South Coast Air Quality Management District to require a formal public comment period and a comprehensive environmental review for Valero’s application to transport tar sands oil by rail to LA.

Valero Wilmington Refinery- Dominguez Channel

View “Valero To Transport Tar Sands Oil to LA by Rail- Poses Major Threats to Water Quality and Public Health” Press Release

October 11, 2013— Over 200 stakeholders met to discuss the present condition of the Los Angeles River Watershed and how to ensure sustainability and resilience of the region for the future. Hosted by The Council for Watershed Health, Los Angeles Waterkeeper Executive Director Liz Crosson presented at the conference along with top decision makers, including Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, in an effort to provide policymakers, planners, resource managers and others with the tools and perspectives needed to adaptively manager the LA River.

“Los Angeles Waterkeeper tracks success, as a public interest organization, by analyzing public documents, investigation, and participating in stakeholder groups, including collaborative efforts with other organizations, cities, industries, and elected officials,” said Liz Crosson, Executive Director of Los Angeles Waterkeeper. “We also track success through our public outreach campaigns as we inform Angelenos and they inform us about the issues in their neighborhoods and the pollution problems they face. We fill a regulatory gap by focusing on citizen enforcement; we target the worst polluters in the region and use law and science to protect the river and public health.”


View “Los Angeles Waterkeeper Executive Director Liz Crosson Presents at State of the Los Angeles River Watershed Symposium Press Release

October 9, 2013– After nearly 7 months of no rain, October 9th was LA’s “first flush”, which was cause for dangerously high levels of pollution in the Santa Monica and San Pedro Bays. A major threat to human health and marine life, the first rain of the season was also an opportune time for Los Angeles Waterkeeper to collect storm water samples crucial to their work.

 LA Waterkeeper’s investigative team has been actively looking into more than two dozen industrial facilities throughout LA County that are suspected of violating federal and state clean water laws. Today, staff and volunteers were out in the rain collecting water samples from the facilities and then taking them to a state certified lab for testing. In an effort to stop waste transfer stations, scrap yards and waste recyclers from discharging harmful pollutants that end up in our water (heavy metals, trash and fecal bacteria), the data collected from the samples will be submitted to the Regional Water Quality Control Board and other agencies to take action. If necessary, Los Angeles Waterkeeper will proceed with their own litigation with an end goal of forcing the facilities to eliminate their water pollution discharges and achieve compliance with water quality standards.
View “First Flush” Rain Poses Serious Threat to Los Angeles Water Quality Press Release

September 21, 2013— Over 400 volunteers collected and removed 250 lbs. of trash at Dockweiler Beach, Tower 60 as part of Los Angeles Waterkeeper’s Coastal Cleanup Day. In partnership with the California Coastal Commission and Heal the Bay, LA Waterkeeper’s beach cleanup site uniquely featured a sea cleanup by volunteer scuba divers and a “Pellet Watch” where volunteers sifted through sand for micro-plastics (broken down plastic that comes from factories, industrial plants and plastic litter).

Participants came in busloads from near and far to participate in Los Angeles Waterkeeper’s cleanup. For some, this was their first trip to the beach. Among the items discovered on the beach was a 120 lb. piece of carpet.


View “Volunteers Collect 250 lbs. of Trash at Dockweiler Beach” Press Release

September 12, 2013— Despite Magic Mountain’s attempt to dismiss several claims from the lawsuit filed against them for discharging stormwater pollution into the Santa Clara River, Los Angeles Waterkeeper, Ventura Coastkeeper, Wishtoyo, and Friends of the Santa Clara River will be moving forward with their case in court. With their notice of intent from April 2012, followed by a complaint in June 2012, the group seeks to hold the amusement park accountable for the illegal discharge of thousands of gallons of untreated stormwater runoff and trash into the Santa Clara River and, ultimately, the Pacific Ocean.

“We are relieved the Court saw through Magic Mountain’s latest attempt to evade responsibility for the pollution it contributes to the Santa Clara River, ” said Liz Crosson, Executive Director of Los Angeles Waterkeeper. “LA Waterkeeper and our partners are committed to ensuring that Magic Mountain stops discharging toxic metals, bacteria and trash to this very special river and habitat.”

Magic Mountain Trash in the Santa Clara River

View “Court Rejects Magic Mountain’s Attempt to Deprive Santa Clara River Of Its Day in Court” Press Release

On August 8, 2013, an opinion was issued by the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals siding with arguments in favor of a lawsuit that forces Los Angeles County and the County Flood Control District to take action to clean up two polluted waterways in Los Angeles. The lawsuit initiated by Los Angeles Waterkeeper and Natural Resources Defense Council in 2008 sought to hold the County responsible for documented violations of the Clean Water Act in the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers since 2003, and act immediately to clean up the toxic mix of mercury, arsenic, cyanide, lead and fecal bacteria found in billions of gallons of stormwater runoff. This ruling comes after the case was remanded to the Ninth Circuit by the Supreme Court of the United States in January.

“This opinion is a turning point for all of Los Angeles. Stormwater runoff is the number one source of pollution in Los Angeles’ rivers and beaches and LA County is the largest discharger of stormwater,” said Liz Crosson, Executive Director of Los Angles Waterkeeper. “Holding LA County responsible for its pollution and working with them to find region-wide solutions is the biggest victory we could imagine.”

LA River


View the Los Angeles County Liable for Polluted Waterway Press Release

On August 2, 2013, Los Angeles Waterkeeper, The Otter Project, and Environmental Defense Center (EDC) mobilized to intervene in a lawsuit challenging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) December 2012 decision to officially end the ‘no-otter zone’. This important FWS decision allowed sea otters to begin to regain a foothold in their natural range in Southern California- an outcome vital to the recovery of the species. This new lawsuit, filed by four fishing organizations, dangerously seeks resumption of the no-otter zone.

“Our marine ecosystem has been out of balance for decades. Removing the no-otter zone, restoring kelp forests, and establishing marine protected areas are critical for reversing this degradation,” said Liz Crosson, Executive Director of Los Angeles Waterkeeper. “The science shows that our fisheries will be much more robust once our habitats are protected and the natural balance of the food chain is restored.”

Los Angeles Waterkeeper and the other organizations involved are determined to support the Fish and Wildlife Service and ensure that this lawsuit does not stand in the way of the sea otter’s recovery in Southern California.


View the Sea Otter Press Release

On Saturday, July 27, 2013, Los Angeles Waterkeeper celebrated all of LA’s clean waterways and the regulations that protect them at their “Swimmable California Day Celebration”. The fresh water event took place at Chantry Flats in the Angeles National Forest (pictured below) and the salt water event was at Santa Monica Beach. The celebrations took place in honor of the newly adopted resolution that officially designates July 25th as Swimmable California Day. An initiative of our partner California Coastkeeper Alliance, the resolution recognizes Californian’s rights to enjoy waters that are clean and safe for swimming.
Swimmable CA Day Celebration

View our Swimmable CA Day Press Release

Over 300 people gathered at The Fairmont Miramar Hotel on May 30, 2013 to celebrate the achievements of Los Angeles Waterkeeper over 20 years, and recognize the individuals and community members that were instrumental in the past and current success of the organization. The honorees of The Founders’ Circle included: Richard Baskin, Dan Emmett, Jordan Kaplan, Gil Segel, Terry Tamminen, and Frank & Luanne Wells.

The Founders' Circle with Liz Crosson

Making Waves 2013 raised nearly $330,000 in support of Los Angeles Waterkeeper’s programs to protect and restore the bays, beaches and rivers of L.A. County. Funds will go directly towards monitoring sources of pollution, restoring habitats, and enforcing environmental laws to protect and improve ocean and river environments for generations to come.

View our Making Waves Press Release

Making Waves 2013!

Making Waves 2013_2

Celebrating 20 years of protecting our Los Angeles Waterways at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica on Thursday, May 30th from 6:30 p.m.- 9:30 p.m. Find out more.

The press is invited to join us at this event. Contact Rachel Stich, Communications Manager at for more information.

View our Making Waves Media Alert 

Earth Weekend 17-mile Paddleboard Race in The Santa Monica Bay Offers Watersports Community a Chance to “Stand-up for Clean Water”

Dume Downwinder map
On Saturday, April 20, 2013 Los Angeles Waterkeeper’s 2nd annual Earth Weekend stand-up paddleboard (SUP) race, Stand-up for Clean Water, will feature a 17-mile downwinder from Point Dume to the Annenberg Community Beach House in Santa Monica as a part of the national Waterkeeper Alliance SPLASH Series, presented by Toyota. The Dume Downwinder will feature local SUP star athletes including Seth Springer (2nd place, Catalina Challenge 2013) and longtime southern California stand-up paddleboard shaper Joe Bark. The Dume Downwinder will be held in addition to the 5-mile competitive, and 1-mile fun shore SUP races launching from the Annenberg Community Beach House at 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. respectively.

The press is invited to join us aboard the ‘Waterkeeper’ to experience the Dume Downwinder from the water. Contact Michael Quill to reserve your space:

Read our press release for more information.

In Celebration of World Water Day, LA Waterkeeper Takes a “Snapshot” of Local Water Quality at Ballona Creek

World Water Day is observed annually on March 22nd, but is celebrated all weekend throughout the globe in order to raise awareness on the importance of a sustainably managed, local freshwater supply. In honor of World Water Day, LA Waterkeeper’s Water Quality Monitoring Program, DrainWatch, will be taking a “snapshot” of the water quality along the lower reach of the soft-bottomed portion of Ballona Creek. Teams of DrainWatch volunteers will be testing the Creek for common pollutants such as metals, oil and grease, and harmful bacteria. As stormwater pollution is the number one source of water pollution in Southern California, identifying and curtailing it is essential to building a healthy, native water supply in Los Angeles.

Stormwater Sampling at Ballona Creek

Read more in our press release.

The U.S. Supreme Court Returns Los Angeles County Water Ruling to Lower Court.

On January 8th, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling allowing the L.A. County Flood Control District to temporarily avoid responsibility for its discharge of pollutants into the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers.  Rather than absolving the County of all future responsibility for the billions of gallons of polluted stormwater runoff that flows into the rivers, beaches, and creeks that Angelenos enjoy each year, the Court’s decision instead resolved a narrow legal issue surrounding the definition of a ‘discharge of pollutants’ under the Clean Water Act.

Los Angeles Waterkeeper Executive Director, Liz Crosson states: “[t]he county has managed to game the system in a way that has allowed the pollution of our waterways to go unaddressed for many years. The county is the largest source of stormwater pollution to local waterways, and today it has escaped accountability, but only temporarily.”

The suit was initiated by Los Angeles Waterkeeper (formerly Santa Monica Baykeeper) and the Natural Resources Defense Council in 2008 in order to hold the County responsible for the toxic stew of pollutants that both damage our coastal ecosystems and pose a public health risk.

Beach pollution

For more information, please see our press release.

LAW Executive Director Liz Crosson speaks on behalf of L.A. County Waters at Henry Waxman Press Conference!

LAW Executive Director, Liz Crosson, attended a press conference on coastal protection held by U.S. Representative Henry A. Waxman at the Pepperdine Executive Center on Thursday, August 9th. The conference was organized by Waxman in order to release a report detailing recent attacks on clean water in the U.S. House of Representatives, and discuss the need for stronger clean water protections throughout L.A. County. The speakers panel included representatives from some of L.A.’s leading environmental groups and key government agencies including Surfrider, Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission, Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board, and Los Angeles Waterkeeper.

For more information on LAW’s advocacy efforts, please visit our Advocacy page. For more information on the Waxman report of clean water attacks, please read this article by the Venice-Mar Vista Patch, or download the full report by visiting Henry A. Waxman’s website.

U.S. Supreme Court to Hear LA Waterkeeper Case Against the County for Polluted Runoff!

On the eve of Santa Monica Baykeeper’s Name Change to LA Waterkeeper, The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear L.A. County’s appeal of a lower court’s decision to hold the County responsible for the polluted runoff that flows into the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers, and through to the Pacific Ocean. The suit originated in 2008 when Santa Monica Baykeeper and NRDC  joined forces in order to hold the L.A. County Flood Control District accountable for treating or diverting the polluted runoff that is discharged into the rivers and poses risks to both public health and local ecology. Stormwater runoff carries pesticides, oil, bacteria, toxic metals, and grease into our rivers and out to our beaches every year, and is the number one source of water pollution in Southern California. The case was settled in favor of Baykeeper and NRDC at the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals last year. Currently, L.A. County claims that it does not generate the pollutants that fill our waterways, and is therefore not responsible for the contaminated runoff. LA Waterkeeper and NRDC believe that the 9th Circuit’s decision will be upheld. For more information, please see the LA Times article.

Earth Day SUP Race
1st Annual Stand-up for Clean Water- A Success!

Thanks to everyone who made our 1st annual Earth Day festival & SUP race such a great success, and for helping us spread the word about local and global clean water issues!

There’s some great coverage of event, including a spotlight on our youngest contestant, 7 -year old Cade on SUP Connect’s webpage. Also, there are fantastic SUP4CleanWater photos and coverage of Baykeeper’s recent settlement with Malibu in the Huffington Post!

LA Waterkeeper (formerly Santa Monica Baykeeper) settles 5-year old Suit with Malibu

An agreement reached on April 13, 2012 by the City of Malibu, Santa Monica Baykeeper and the Natural Resources Defense Council seeks to significantly improve beachwater quality along the Malibu coastline for millions of beachgoers who visit each year by reducing stormwater pollution before it reaches the ocean. Key points of the agreement include:

  • The City of Malibu is required to take action at stormdrains throughout the City to protect public health and the environment, and ensure that stormwater and urban runoff from the City at these locations will not contribute to water quality problems in Santa Monica Bay and Malibu Lagoon.  The locations include specific drains near Marie Canyon, Las Flores, Malibu Civic Center, Broad Beach, and Wildlife Road.
  • Water quality improvements will be achieved by increased adoption of low impact development techniques such as source control, rainwater harvesting, infiltration and, where necessary, stormwater treatment.
  • Malibu will undertake additional efforts to improve water quality associated with runoff from Serra Retreat, and will fund a water quality assessment of ocean health in Santa Monica Bay.

“This agreement marks a significant step towards a cleaner Santa Monica Bay,” said Liz Crosson, Executive Director of Santa Monica Baykeeper. “Baykeeper looks forward to working with the City of Malibu to improve public and ecological health along our prized coastline.”

“Clean beachwater is not only good for public health, it supports healthy coastal economies that are key to California’s tourism industry,” said David Beckman, Director of the Water Program at NRDC. “We appreciate the city’s important commitments to clean water.”

“By curbing the biggest sources of pollution in the Santa Monica Bay, we can keep trips to Malibu beaches carefree, and prevent people from getting sick when they go in the ocean,” said NRDC Senior Attorney Steve Fleischli.

Beachwater pollution nationwide causes a range of waterborne illnesses in swimmers including stomach flu, skin rashes, pinkeye, ear, nose and throat problems, dysentery, hepatitis, respiratory ailments, neurological disorders and other serious health problems. For senior citizens, small children and people with weak immune systems, the results can be fatal. Today’s settlement resolves litigation between the parties and opens an important new chapter in efforts to protect beachgoers in Santa Monica Bay.

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