Coastkeeper to Discover What Rain Washed Into Orange County’s Water
- Stormwater enforcement team to analyze industrial pollution runoff violating Clean Water Act
When it rains, polluted stormwater runs into the storm drain system, eventually finding its way into local waters without any treatment. During these times of increased pollution runoff, Orange County Coastkeeper’s stormwater enforcement team jumps into action to pinpoint industrial facilities in violation of the Clean Water Act.
“Our enforcement program defends public health standards and makes sure Orange County’s water is swimmable, drinkable and fishable for everyone,” says Ray Hiemstra, associate director of programs for Orange County Coastkeeper. “After our teams go out into the field to identify water quality violations, we use one of the most effective and efficient tools we have – litigation.”
Orange County Coastkeeper aims to address pollutants at the source so that residents can enjoy local waters, rain or shine. The Federal Clean Water Act establishes the basic structure for regulating discharges of pollutants into the waters across the United States. For 17 years, Coastkeeper’s team of experts has collected samples of toxic discharges running into the storm drain system. From these findings, 60 federal Clean Water Act cases have been filed with a 100 percent success rate.
According to Coastkeeper, the ongoing stormwater enforcement program is an invaluable way of collecting evidence and bringing more enforcement cases than the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board. Through these efforts, Coastkeeper has successfully worked with local trash hauler facilities, scrap yards and other polluting industries to establish sustainable practices.
“Through cooperation and collaboration, our findings from stormwater enforcement can help businesses reduce pollution and comply with state clean water laws,” says Hiemstra. “We’ve seen businesses make changes that promote sustainable industry-wide best practices. Ultimately, the business, their employees and the environment all benefit.”
ORANGE COUNTY COASTKEEPER: Orange County Coastkeeper is a member of the International Waterkeeper Alliance, which has 236 different independent programs across 29 countries. Founded in 1999, the mission of Coastkeeper is to protect and promote sustainable water resources that are swimmable, drinkable, and fishable. Coastkeeper is a nonprofit clean water organization that serves as a proactive steward of our fresh- and saltwater ecosystems. We work collaboratively with diverse groups in the public and private sectors to achieve healthy, accessible, and sustainable water resources for the region. We implement innovative, effective programs in education, advocacy, restoration, research, enforcement, and conservation. For more information, visit www.coastkeeper.org or call 714-850-1965.