Forester criticizes California Supreme Court’s refusal to hear lawsuit on ‘obsolete’ water-quality control plans

According to a press release issued Tuesday by the City of Signal Hill, on March 18 the California Supreme Court refused to step in and require the water boards to update obsolete regional water-quality plans, commonly known as “basin plans,” by allowing a 4th District Appellate Court ruling to become case law.
A group of 18 Los Angeles County cities brought litigation against the water boards in 2005 when an extensive administrative review revealed that the boards failed in their state law responsibilities to develop reasonable and practical water-quality standards for storm water.
“There will be real-world consequences to California’s communities from the Supreme Court’s refusal to review the flawed ruling by the 4th District Court of Appeal,” said Signal Hill Mayor Larry Forester. “We continue to believe that the Superior Court judge understood the issues, while the Appellate Court did not.”
Forester commented that the ruling means that local governments will continue to struggle with inappropriate basin plan standards. The State will continue to obfuscate on its obligation to update basin plans to reflect the unique problems of storm water and California’s chronic budget deficits and under-funding of basin planning will only worsen the situation, according to the City’s press release.
“We are also concerned that the ruling is a ‘green light’ for the water boards to impose impossible never-to-be-exceeded numeric limits and other permit requirements, and that the boards will simply leave it to the cities to worry about the consequences of being unable to meet these unfunded state mandates,” said Forester, noting that the Appellate Court decision will ultimately leave the cities in a constant state of violation, without any tangible benefit to water quality and that local governments will be required to shift resources from public safety and other necessary services to studies and chasing unobtainable standards. “We can’t stop the rain from falling, and cities do not control what pesticides and fertilizers can and cannot be used or what chemicals and products are needed for automobiles,” Forester said.
He also predicted that the refusal of the Supreme Court to consider the Appellate Court ruling will embolden environmental activists to file yet more litigation against local governments who fail in meeting the obsolete and impossible basin plan requirements. “They want us to change the entire chemical makeup of storm water before it enters steep, concrete-lined flood control channels such as the Los Angeles River, when, as we see on the news after every major storm event, it is extremely dangerous to do so,” Forester said.
At press time, a phone call to the LA Regional Water Quality Control Board seeking comment on the matter had not been returned.

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