Court Rejects Over Half a Dozen Claims by L.A. County and Local Cities Challenging Rules to Reduce Polluted Urban Runoff

LOS ANGELES (March 1, 2004) - Granting motions brought by NRDC (the Natural Resources Defense Council), Heal the Bay, Santa Monica BayKeeper, and the State of California, a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge on Friday threw out over half a dozen claims in five lawsuits challenging the region's stormwater permit. The County of Los Angeles, along with a coalition of cities and building groups, filed the lawsuits attempting to invalidate new requirements to control urban runoff, Southern California's top source of beach pollution.

The stormwater permit, issued in 2001 under the federal Clean Water Act, requires measures such as drain filters, silt-removal basins and inspections, as well as traditional measures such as public education and street sweeping. The Los Angeles permit is one of the first in California to require actual results measured by reductions in pollution. A similar permit in San Diego was upheld last year and is now being appealed by the Building Industry Association.

In the Los Angeles case, Superior Court Judge Victoria Gerrard Chaney dismissed all claims against the State Water Resources Control Board and rejected plaintiffs' attempts to introduce irrelevant evidence and allegations that the regional water board lacked authority to issue the permit. NRDC, BayKeeper, and Heal the Bay praised the ruling.

"Developers and their allies in local government have launched a full-scale attack on reasonable efforts to reduce the number one source of water pollution in California," said NRDC senior attorney David Beckman, lead counsel for the environmental groups. "The ruling is a step toward clean water."