View Mobile Site

Ask the Expert

Signal Photos


Supreme Court declines to hear storm water pollution case

Posted: May 6, 2014 4:50 p.m.
Updated: May 6, 2014 4:50 p.m.

The U.S. Supreme Court declined this week to hear an appeal by Los Angeles County contesting a ruling that held it liable for storm water pollution.

The justices did not comment in rejecting the appeal by the county flood control district.

In 2008, the Natural Resources Defense Council and Los Angeles Waterkeeper sued to hold the county responsible for the cleanup of mercury, arsenic, cyanide, lead and fecal bacteria in billions of gallons of polluted runoff.

Environmentalists, who contend that chronic pollution has sickened swimmers, were pleased with the Supreme Court’s decision.

“Los Angeles County needs to face the facts and get to work to clean up its mess. It’s time for a cleaner water future for the region,” Steve Fleischli, a senior attorney for the defense council, said in a statement.

Last year, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the county violated a Clean Water Act permit and was responsible for the heavily polluted storm water flowing untreated each year down the Los Angeles and San Gabriel rivers.

In a statement, the county said the Supreme Court’s decision to not take up the case was disturbing because the appeals court ruling assigned blame to municipalities without taking into account the sources of the discharges.

“This could force municipalities to redirect limited public funds from other critical services to spend on controlling pollution from private and other sources who are the responsible parties,” Gail Farber, chief engineer of the Flood Control District and director of the Los Angeles County Public Works Department, said in a statement.

The case will be returned to U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, where environmentalists said they planned to pursue green remedies to capture and retain storm water through catch basins or rain gardens.

The issue of storm water pollution in Los Angeles County was a topic of much debate last year as officials discussed a per-parcel fee to fund stormwater cleanup efforts countywide.

That fee, known as the Clean Water, Clean Beaches measure, would have ranged from below $100 for most single-family residences — though some homeowners told The Signal their fee estimates were much higher — to potentially more than $10,000 for larger industrial or commercial properties.

The proposed measure drew a great deal of criticism for the methodology that went into determining the fee levels and because the measure, as originally proposed, did not include offsets for property owners who had already taken steps to reduce runoff pollution.

The proposed measure also did not include offsets for cities, such as Santa Clarita, that already have fees in place to fund such efforts.

Members of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors decided last summer they did not have the information they needed to move forward with the measure.




Most Popular Articles

There are no articles at this time.
Commenting not available.
Commenting is not available.


Powered By
Morris Technology
Please wait ...