From Matt's Desk: An Intro to Industrial Stormwater Enforcement

Local enforcement of the Clean Water Act by the government is rare.

This is a huge problem for clean waters in San Diego. But, the Clean Water Act itself recognized that government alone cannot do the job of holding polluters accountable, and encouraged citizens who value clean water to enforce the law on their own. So that’s what we do. This great empowering tool was one of the great victories for the environment some 40 plus years ago.

Today, without our stormwater enforcement program, business and government agencies in San Diego County could continue to pollute without consequences for decades. Sometimes citizen suits are necessary to stop a polluter from harming our water, but often we can transform a polluter to an industry-leading water steward with some cooperation and collaboration.

What is runoff? Watch to learn. Its causes are varied, and we use data and multiple tactics to solve all sorts of runoff pollution, including that coming from specific industries.

We offer to cooperate.

Our staff can pull a business’s mandatory, self-reported water quality data from California’s public database. This allows us to see if a business has failed to do water quality tests or if its data indicates they are polluting in violation of the law. Once we identify a business or government agency that is out of compliance, we send them a legal notice, which is required under the Clean Water Act, and we offer to cooperate with them to help protect our water and protect their business from legal consequences. Often, businesses are willing to upgrade their facilities and their practices to the legal standards necessary to keep our waters fishable and swimmable.

Businesses want to take action.

We love the results we’ve seen from our engagement with companies such as Quality Recycling in Vista. Its staff took action with our legal notice and now the stormwater samples taken at its facility show mostly clean results. We’re glad to see they are now responsible stewards of the environment, and look forward to engaging industry and government to protect our waters from ongoing pollution.