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When it rains, stormwater runs into the storm drain system eventually finding its way into local and coastal waters without any treatment. During these times of increased pollution runoff, Orange County Coastkeeper’s stormwater enforcement team jumps into action to pinpoint violations of the Clean Water Act.

An oil manufacturer in Orange County discharges oil into the street.

How Industrial Runoff Impacts Orange County

Orange County has mixed communities of residential, commercial, industrial and public recreational areas such as parks. This means that toxic and hazardous discharges from industrial facilities can run into backyards, neighborhood streets and parks, as well as local waters.

When toxins travel all the way into Orange County’s harbors, bays, wetlands and coastal waters, the City to closes the beach for public use — a reality that is commonly accepted in Southern California, but with proper enforcement doesn’t have to be the case.

Toxic discharges include bacteria, ammonia, oils, metals and trash and are very harmful to local families, wildlife, habitats and violate the Clean Water Act.

This metal casting facility in Fontana stores industrial materials, oils, hazardous materials, scrap metal, and debris amongst flood water.

The Clean Water Act

The Federal Clean Water Act establishes the basic structure for regulating discharges of pollutants into waters across the United States. For 16 years, Coastkeeper’s team of experts has collected samples of toxic discharges into the storm drain system.

From these findings, 60 federal Clean Water Act cases have been filed with a 100 percent success rate.

Penalty charges from violations are distributed to non-profit organizations that work toward environmental and community improvements.

One such beneficiary is the Green Fund, which is exclusively supported by the settlements of Coastkeeper’s litigation. The Green Fund levels the playing field by providing funds to nonprofits that protect recognized ecological resources and would not otherwise obtain professional services.

Industries That Discharge Toxins

A clay material manufacturer in the Inland Empire was discharging stormwater containing clay high in aluminum from their site. Litigation against the defendant resulted in stormwater being kept onsite and not discharged into a nearby creek. The creek suffers from too much sediment and this was a source of that pollution.

Stormwater enforcement is an ongoing program and an invaluable way of collecting our own evidence and bringing more enforcement cases than the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board. Coastkeeper has successfully worked with:

  • Trash Hauler Facilities
  • Auto Dismantlers
  • Scrap Yards
  • Concrete Batch Dispatchers
  • Frozen Food Manufacturers
  • Clay Mining
  • Developers

Sediment drains into the street and eventually into a storm drain. Due to the activities at this site, the sediment may transport metals and toxic material to waterways.

Why Clean Water Matters

Polluted water impacts everyone. When rain occurs, visible discharge can be measured, tested and seen with the naked eye.

Orange County Coastkeeper wants to address these toxins at the source so that residents can enjoy the waters – rain or shine.

If you see water pollution in your neighborhood report it here.