Community members, environmental activists, government officials, and business owners met in Kearny Mesa on April 10 to vocalize their support for clean water at the Regional Water Quality Control Board hearing.
The purpose of the meeting was for the board to obtain testimony and information from concerned and affected parties and make decisions after considering the recommendations made by executive officer David Gibson.
The Surfrider Foundation expressed approval of the new Municipal Storm Water Permit, also known as the MS4 Permit, which establishes the conditions under which pollutants can be discharged from storm drains to local streams, coastal lagoons, and oceans.
According to the Surfrider Foundation’s San Diego chapter website, the adoption of a new MS4 permit at the meeting would represent a paradigm shift in storm-water management.
“Nothing is more upsetting to me than to explain the clean-water act 72-hour warning to tourists and say they cannot go swimming in the ocean due to storm-drain runoff pollution,” said a local hospitality and tourism business owner from the South Bay.
Watershed-based planning, recovery and analysis of data, and low-impact development are a few examples of how water pollution can be mitigated in San Diego.
“The MS4 permit, along with better water management, would encourage cooperative work with the board and environmental research groups,” said Travis Pritchard, water-quality lab manager for San Diego Coastkeeper.
The overall public and activist consensus, however, opposed the implementation of the “safe harbor clause,” which became a term of confusion for both the board and public speakers. The clause, according to the Surfrider Foundation, takes the teeth out of the new regional permit by granting co-permittees a litigation waiver if they complete a checklist of requirements.
“No one wants an overly litigious environment, but members of the public and vested environmental organizations need to maintain their ability to sue for egregious violations of water-quality parameters,” said Haley Haggerstone, the local Surfrider Foundation coordinator.