Pollution Prevention

Protecting Our Neighborhoods, Rivers, and Beaches from Pollution

Polluted runoff is the number one source of contamination to California’s waters.  A large portion of contaminants found in L.A. County waters are due to pollution from the thousands of industrial facilities located throughout the County including factories, oil fields, scrap metal yards, and waste processing facilities. Polluted runoff also comes from human activities, which includes the use of detergents, fertilizers, oil and trash.

We work tirelessly to keep harmful pollutants out of our rivers, beaches, and bays through our Advocacy program. We actively advocate for stronger water quality protections before federal, state and local regulatory agencies on issues ranging from the development and adoption of water quality standards and limits, to Clean Water Act permits, state and federal policies and legislation, municipal pollution control ordinances, and local coastal plans. We aim to empower our local communities with data on local polluting industrial sites as well as ways to prevent pollution in our every day lives. We also advocate on behalf of these communities to local, state and federal agencies.

Hermosa Beach

E & B Oil Drilling in Hermosa Beach

The City of Hermosa Beach is currently reviewing a proposal from E & B Oil to develop an onshore drilling and production facility that would access offshore oil reserves in Santa Monica Bay. The City currently has a moratorium in place that prohibits oil drilling, but a settlement with E & B Oil may allow the community to be opened up to oil drilling by putting the moratorium up for reconsideration. Oil drilling off Hermosa Beach poses signifcant environmental risks to the Bay and threatens our water quality.

LA Waterkeeper has submitted comments to the City of Hermosa Beach on the E & B Oil Drilling & Production Project: Draft Environmental Impact Report (“DEIR”) to assess potential signficant environmental impacts of the proposed oil development project in Hermosa Beach. LA Waterkeeper’s review of the DEIR reveals that the report fails to provide full disclosure and adequate analysis of several potential sources of discharge that could significantly impact water quality and suffers from other deficiencies under CEQA. Specifically, the DEIR does not include a thorough assessment of the Project’s water quality and water resources impact, as well as impacts resulting from oil spills and other hazardous conditions.

View LA Waterkeeper’s comment letter submitted to the City of Hermosa Beach here.

 marina-del-rey-harborMarina del Rey Toxics TMDL’s

Copper-based antifoulding hull paints are causing major concern for Marina del Rey Harbor’s marine environment. A 2009 study revealed that Marina del Rey is the most toxic harbor in California, and copper leaching from antifoulding hull paint of the nearly 5,000 boats moored in the Harbor is thought to be the primary source.  Copper negatively affects marine organisms, causing gill and nervous system damage in fish, and mortality in invertebrates that make up the base of the food chain. In order to protect aquatic life and activities that depend on a healthy aquatic ecosystem, such as recreation, wildlife habitat, and sport fishing, the amount of copper leaching into the Marina needs to be reduced.

LA Waterkeeper has submitted comments to the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board in favor of their draft revisions to a regulatory action to reduce the amount of copper in Marina del Rey Harbor. The proposed plan allots 11 years to reduce copper discharge from boats by 85% by requiring boats moored in the Harbor using copper-based paint to switch to non-copper paint and use less-abrasive hull cleaning techniques.

View LA Waterkeeper’s comment letter submitted to the LA Regional Water Quality Control Board here



Inglewood Oil Field


Fracking is an industrial process used to extract oil and gas by stimulating cracks into the ground at very deep levels. Studies have found that fracking has the potential for significant damage to our soil, air and water resources. The Inglewood Oilfield is the largest urban oil field in the United States, and discharges from their fracking activities are ending up right here in Ballona Creek, and then our Santa Monica Bay beaches.

While fracking has been conducted in California for decades, our state has not adopted any regulations on this activity. We strongly believe that the California Legislature should impose a moratorium on fracking pending a thorough study of fracking impacts on our natural resources and public health and have supported the moratorium bill proposed by Assemblymember Bloom.

In the meantime, we are keeping a close watch on fracking activities and proposed regulations for California with the goal of ensuring the highest level of water quality protection for LA County waterways and full disclosure and transparency of fracking activities so that the public can monitor and participate in decision making.

In June 2013, LA Waterkeeper submitted comments on the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR’s) Discussion Draft regulations issued to deal with fracking, urging the Department of Conservation to impose a moratorium on fracking in California. View the LA Waterkeeper Comments on Fracking Regs_ June2013. Shortly after, the fracking bill SB4 was passed, and required DOGGR to issue a brand new draft on fracking and other oil and gas well simulations, such as acidizing, to comply with SB4 requirements. LA Waterkeeper issued comments to DOGGR addressing these new draft regulations, again urging the Department of Conservation to prohibit all well fracking and acidizing stimulation treatment projects in California until the impacts of these treatments on our environment and public health are thoroughly studied and analyzed. View the LA Waterkeer Comments_SB4 Regs_Jan 2014.

In January 2014, LA Waterkeeper also submitted comments on the Environmental Impacts Report (EIR) to evaluate the impacts of existing and potential future oil and gas well stimulation treatments occurring within California (California SB4). View LA Waterkeeper SB4 Scoping Plan Comments

Be sure to check out our Action Alerts page for any petitions on fracking regulations.

LA River

Storm Water Pollution

Storm water is the largest source of pollution to California’s waterbodies, endangering aquatic life, public health, and diminishing the quality of life as well as negatively impacting our state’s economy. Storm water and non-storm water (which flows during dry weather) carry contaminants such as fecal bacteria (including e.coli), heavy metals such as copper, lead, zinc, aluminum, and iron, as well as cyanide, oil, grease and suspended solids, among others.

The Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board renewed the Municipal Storm Water Permit for LA County, the LA County Flood Control District, and 84 cities that are discharging to our rivers, creeks, and the ocean through their municpal storm drains. The permit includes provisions that will excuse municipalities from being held accountable for their discharges of polluted storm water in excess of water quality standards. We have a filed a petition challenging the new Permit’s provisions in an effort to provide the necessary water quality protection as required by the Clean Water Act and state laws.

On March 14, 2014, LA Waterkeeper submitted comments to the Los Angeles Regional Water Control Board on their Recreational Use Reassessment (RECUR) of the Engineered Channels of the Los Angeles River Watershed Technical Report. In the comments, we urged The Regional Board to abandon the effort to amend the beneficial uses for the LA River, and instead, use the precious public resources to protect and improve water quality and ensure the River is safe for recreation now and in the future. While the RECUR Report is useful, any further reconsideration of recreational uses is counterproductive, given the current and ongoing efforts to improve the River’s water quality pursuant to TMDLs and NPDES permits. View LAWaterkeeper RECUR Comments


Plastic Pellets

Water pollution is increasingly caused by plastic pellets, which are pre-production micro-plastics typically less than 5mm in diameter. Billions of plastic pellets, also known as “nurdles”, are manufactured in the United States annually, and they are ending up in our rivers and ocean, harming freshwater and marine species. Over the past year, we have been researching the impacts of plastic pellet pollution and investigating the sources of this pollution in Los Angeles. In August 2013, we sent a Notice of Violation to an industrial site in Compton, asking them to terminate all discharges of pellets and to clean up their site and adjacent areas from accumulated pellets. Alerted by our letter, the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board initiated its own enforcement, and is requiring clean up and removal of pellets, as well as implementation of measure to prevent future discharges from their site.

Our investigators have recently found 8-10 additional sites that are discharging plastic pellets in violation of the statewide industrial storm water permit, and we are working with local authorities to get the facilities to remove their plastic pellet pollution and comply with the law.

Malibu's Surfrider Beach Malibu Septic Prohibition

In 2009, the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board adopted a prohibition on septic discharges in the Malibu Civic Center area. The prohibition’s goal was to protect and restore the water quality of Malibu Creek, Malibu Lagoon and the iconic Surfrider Beach, all impaired in part due to septic discharges. We supported this prohibition and have since been working to ensure the deadlines set for discontinuing septic discharges are met. We are also advocating for the construct of a waste water treatment plant for the Malibu Civic Center area, which will ensure compliance with the Septic Prohibition.

Witness Pollution in Your Neighborhood?

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

Email: info@lawaterkeeper.org
Phone: 310-394-6162
Fax: 310-394-6178

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