National Academy of Sciences Reports Calls for Change to Stormwater Runoff Regulation
(Associated Press, October 16, 2008) According to a report by the National Academy of Sciences, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) is failing to stem the pollution that washes into waterways from cities and suburbs. The report calls for "radical changes" in the way the federal government regulates stormwater runoff in order for all waters to be clean enough for fishing and swimming. The report also calls for a shift in stormwater runoff management responsibility from developers to local governments and for permits to be issued on the boundaries of a watershed, rather than state boundaries.
State of Washington Bans Home Car Washing
(USA Today, September 28, 2008) Under authority of the federal Clean Water Act, as a condition for issuing water runoff permits to cities and counties, the Washington State Department of Ecology has required local governments to adopt ordinances to prohibit home car washing unless residents divert the wash water from entering storm sewers. The local ordinances are not required to ban home car washing completely. Rather, car washing on lawns or gravel driveways, or on pavement with barriers that prevent the wash water from entering storm sewers, may be permitted.
Imperial Valley Water Reservoir to Result in Additional Water for Southern California and Less Water for Mexico
(Los Angeles Times, October 22, 2008) Construction on a $172.2 million reservoir to store water from the Colorado River that would otherwise flow to Mexico began on October 22, 2008. With the new reservoir, coastal Southern California, southern Nevada, and central Arizona will receive more water. However, the reservoir also will result in less water for Mexico. For decades, the United States has allowed Mexico to receive more water from the Colorado River than it was assured under a 1944 treaty, but with a regional historic drought, the U.S. Department of the Interior devised this reservoir project to capture excess water from the All-American Canal rather than allowing it to flow to Mexico. Officials note that Mexico will continue to receive its allocation under the 1944 treaty. The reservoir is scheduled to be completed in August 2010.
California Department of Transportation Seeks to Prevent Erosion on Recently Charred Land
(Register Pajaronian, October 22, 2008) The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has been spraying a green mixture of wood fiber and native grass seeds over recently charred and parched land burned in a June 20, 2008 fire. The purpose of the spraying is to promote erosion control by restoring plant life. The product being sprayed consists of a fiber wood mulch, native grass seeds, and a binder made from castor beans. The grasses should be fully mature by spring 2009.
Federal District Court Judge Denies Request to Further Reduce Delta Pumping
(The Fresno Bee, October 21, 2008) On October 21, 2008, United States District Court, Eastern District of California Judge Oliver W. Wanger denied a request from environmental groups to reduce delta pumping and reduce impacts to the winter-run Chinook salmon, spring-run Chinook salmon, and Central Valley steelhead populations. In his ruling, Judge Wanger stated "[i]n light of the potential consequences of further reducing the available [Central Valley Project] … water [yield] to implement such remedies, and in the face of substantial scientific disagreements about the effectiveness and need for such remedies, it is improvident to issue any such relief without further hearings.” Earthjustice has stated that it has not yet decided whether to seek a hearing because an updated opinion on how to manage the salmon populations is due in March 2009.
Despite Water Conservation, Water-Use Restriction and Higher Rates Are Likely
(San Diego Union Tribune, October 28, 2008)
The San Diego County Water Authority has provided data showing increased conservation by residents and businesses within the county. However, it also shows that such conservation was offset by rural districts, where farmers did not conserve as heavily from July through September as they had during the first half of 2008. Despite the recent water conservation efforts, water district officials state that mandatory water-use restrictions and higher rates will likely be implemented in 2009 in an effort to decrease demand.
Webcast on U.S. EPA’s Industrial Stormwater Permit
U.S. EPA will host a webcast on its recently released industrial stormwater permit, the Multi-Sector General Permit (MSGP), on Wednesday, November 5, 2008 from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. Eastern. The MSGP 2008 replaces the MSGP 2000 that expired on October 20, 2005 and requires industrial facilities to implement and maintain site-specific stormwater control measures and to develop stormwater pollution prevention plans. This webcast will introduce industrial dischargers, members of the public, and state or tribal permitting authorities to the new requirements of the MSGP 2008. The webcast will include a section-by-section summary of the permit’s requirements, highlight changes from the MSGP 2000, discuss stormwater pollution prevention plan requirements, and describe how to apply for permit coverage. Interested parties may register for the free webcast at www.epa.gov/npdes/training.
Legal News Alert is part of our ongoing commitment to providing legal insight to our environmental stormwater clients and our colleagues.
If you have any questions about this alert or would like to discuss these topics further, please contact your Foley attorney or:
S. Wayne Rosenbaum
San Diego, California
Elizabeth A. Cason
San Diego, California
Heidi K. Vonblum, Law Clerk
San Diego, California