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It’s time to celebrate.

Last week, the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board took the consideration to remove its regulations for bacteria levels in Newport Bay off its meeting agenda. For now, those water-quality regulations, known as total maximum daily loads (TMDLs), are safe.

TMDLs limit the amount of pollution industries can discharge into our waters. This TMDL was designed to protect Newport Bay from bacteria contamination to become safe for people to swim, paddleboard and enjoy other recreational activities in the water.

When the Regional Water Board threatened to remove this important policy, it risked allowing industries to fill our bay with excessive, unregulated amounts of harmful bacteria. High levels of bacteria in the water make it dangerous to swim in the bay. By neglecting to meet pollution standards, the County put residents at risk of contracting diseases just by enjoying a day at the beach.

As the sole Orange County environmental group stepping up to protect Newport Bay from egregious bacteria contamination, we submitted a comment letter to the Regional Water Board opposing the withdrawal on factual and legal grounds.

Hours before the hearing was scheduled to begin, the Regional Water Board removed the issue from its meeting agenda — keeping important bacteria regulations in place. For now, the waters of Newport Bay are safeguarded from harmful bacteria pollution.

This is a significant step in the right direction for water quality – but it doesn’t stop here.

In the New Year, Coastkeeper will work with local residents and business owners to bring the County into compliance with the federally mandated plan to reduce bacteria discharged into Newport Bay. We will continue fighting in 2017 to keep our environmental resources safe.

Donate today to support Coastkeeper in protecting Newport Bay’s water quality for future generations to enjoy.