Malibu Settles Lawsuit Over Stormwater

Outgoing City Councilman Jefferson Wagner, who applauded the settlement with the Santa Monica Baykeeper and the Natural Resources Defense Council, believes the lawsuit was diverting needed resources from the city's clean water programs.

The City of Malibu reached a settlement in a lawsuit with two environmental groups over the city's stormwater management on Friday.

In the lawsuit, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Santa Monica Baykeeper alleged the city had violated the Clean Water Act.

Under the settlement, the city will pay $750,000 in legal fees, make improvements on 17 drains, and allocate $250,000 toward the city's Ocean Health Water Assessment program, which will create water quality monitoring along Malibu's shoreline, according to City Attorney Christi Hogin.

Part of Malibu's coastline is known as an Area of Special Biological Significance (ASBS), and a federal district court found the city liable in 2010 for discharging polluted runoff. The ASBS runs from Latigo Point to the Ventura County line.

Funding has already been allocated for 11 of the drains, she said. The total cost of the retrofits is $5.6 million.

"The city is happy about the settlement, primarily because it puts an end to the adversary relationship that comes with litigation and it allows us to bring the NRDC and the Santa Monica Baykeeper onto the city's team in our ongoing effort to clean the water," Hogin told Patch.

Mayor Laura Zahn Rosenthal said the city is pleased to have a resolution in the case.

"It was filed in 2008, before the city's state-of-the-art stormwater treatment facility was fully on-line and before Legacy Park - the city's award-winning water cleaning machine - was built," Mayor Laura Zahn Rosenthal said in a statement.

Rosenthal added that the city is looking forward to working with NRDC and the Baykeeper in the future.

Malibu will also coordinate with the NRDC and the Santa Monica Baykeeper to control the discharge of animal waste from Serra Canyon to Malibu Creek and the Malibu Lagoon.

In a press release issued by both environmental groups, NRDC Senior Attorney Steve Fleischli also commended the settlement. 

"By curbing the biggest sources of pollution in the Santa Monica Bay, we can keep trips to Malibu beaches carefree, and prevent people from getting sick when they go in the ocean,” Fleischli said.

Councilman John Sibert, who was on a council subcommittee that worked on the settlement, said the resolution of the reflects on the city.

"Having science-based solutions for improving water quality is the cornerstone for the City's clean water programs. This settlement reflects that principle and builds on the City's innovative clean water program," Sibert said in a statement.

Outgoing City Councilman Jefferson Wagner added that the lawsuit was diverting resources from the city's clean water programs.

"Malibu has been California's water quality leader and strongest clean water advocate for many years. NRDC and the Baykeeper are important partners to have in that effort," Wagner said.

Marshall Thompson April 15, 2012 at 02:49 AM
I wouldn't think so, Ted, still too much green at the bottom of the trough, and I don't mean algae! These establishment folks have it in for Malibu A - Z.
Elizabeth April 15, 2012 at 03:55 AM
That line disturbed me too... Not sure what the heck they meant- but it definitly doesnt sound healthy :(
Wendi Werner April 15, 2012 at 06:16 AM
Malibu Creek watershed has five 303(d) listings for Benthic Macroinvertebrate Bioassessments • The EPA must establish a TMDL by March 24, 2013, so will select their own criteria and target Can someone please explain this.? If there is no established criteria, how are these projects going forward? Please explain.
Wendi Werner April 15, 2012 at 06:21 AM
1. Malibu Creek watershed has five 303(d) listings for Benthic Macroinvertebrate Bioassessments • The EPA must establish a TMDL by March 24, 2013, so will select their own criteria and target 2. Causes of impairment could be • hydromodification, • mineral water quality from geologic sources, • man-made pollutants, or • Seasonality of flow 3. How can anthropogenic effects be distinguished from natural?
Reuben Akiva April 17, 2012 at 02:13 AM
Dear Wendi.........as the saying goes, you havn't heard anything yet! What this all means is, these two special interest groups have managed to do is directly under the heading of, "Legalized Extortion", we'll stop harassing you if you pay us to go away!! And, certainly with some help from your friendly neighborhood city councilman, who by the way is on his way out the door, along with the mayor, are more than likely lining their respective pockets with a little graft just for good measure for rolling over on the deal. Now, don't we feeeeeeel sooooo much better?? (while they rob us, the tax payer, blind.....Hmmmmmmmmmmmm - Isn't it just delicious??


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