LOS ANGELES (March 21, 2007) -- A simple and efficient plan that can be adopted by smaller and midsized communities across the country to keep local waters free of disease-causing pollutants was made public today by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
“It is the right tool for local governments to resolve the problem of toxic runoff,” said Anjali Jaiswal, an attorney with NRDC’s Water Quality Program. “It will provide communities with clean and healthy waters to protect public health, marine ecosystems, and local economies.”
The paper, entitled Keeping Our Waters Clean: How Smaller Communities Can Prevent Toxic Runoff, summarizes the tools needed to stop and control polluted runoff -- the leading source of pollution to California’s coastal waters. It is based on the program adopted by communities along California’s Monterey Peninsula, and is an update of NRDC’s 2005 report A Practical Plan for Pollution Prevention, which analyzed storm water programs throughout the United States.
Rainfall, excess watering of lawns, and other water use sweeps pollution on the ground into water bodies during both dry and rainy months. This runoff can damage the environment and have serious public health impacts. The three-part strategy of prevention, monitoring, and enforcement developed by NRDC can help smaller and midsized cities deal with this toxic stormwater runoff before it pollutes local waterways and puts public health at risk.
Pathogens and pollutants swept by runoff can degrade water so much that it becomes unsafe for recreational use. Polluted stormwater runoff can have serious health consequences, including fever, chills, nausea, and ear problems in people who swim near runoff drains. Runoff also causes acutely toxic conditions for aquatic organisms, degrades ecosystems, and strains coastal-dependent economies with the resulting beach closures.