Elliott Negin, NRDC, 202/289-2405 or Elizabeth Heyd, NRDC, 202/289-2424; Jeffrey Odefey, Waterkeeper Alliance, 914/674-0622 ext. 207
WASHINGTON (June 29, 2006) - Agreeing with conservation groups, a federal court today ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency must set standards to control stormwater pollution from strip malls, subdivisions and other new development. (For a copy of the decision, go to http://docs.nrdc.org/water/wat_06062901A.pdf.)
The ruling resulted from a September 2004 lawsuit filed by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Waterkeeper Alliance charging that the EPA's unwillingness to control construction site pollution would lead to more beach closings, waterborne disease, flooding, fish kills and contaminated drinking water supplies. The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California today ruled that the agency's inaction violated the Clean Water Act. The states of New York and Connecticut joined the conservation groups in the case.
"The EPA isn't protecting our water, it's protecting asphalt," said Nancy Stoner, director of the Clean Water Project at NRDC. "The parking lot lobby may be happy about that, but Americans who like to swim, fish, and drink clean water are out of luck. Now the EPA has to do its job to safeguard public health."
Polluted runoff from paved surfaces, such as parking lots, highways and rooftops, is the fastest growing source of water pollution across the country, according to a 2002 report by the Pew Oceans Commission. EPA's failure to control urban stormwater pollution, NRDC and the Waterkeeper Alliance said, is despoiling the environment and threatening public health, particularly in coastal areas, where stormwater already is the largest source of water pollution and population is growing rapidly.
"Today's decision is a tremendous victory for the American public," said Waterkeeper Alliance Staff Attorney Jeffrey Odefey. "The court recognized that the EPA has shirked its responsibility to control stormwater. Solutions to prevent polluted runoff are available, affordable, and necessary to keep our nation's waters clean."