A local agency filed a challenge this week seeking relief from new Total Maximum Daily Load mandates -- guidelines for pollution levels -- in the Malibu Creek and Lagoon.
The Las Virgenes – Triunfo Joint Powers Authority (JPA), a joint venture of Las Virgenes Municipal Water District (LVMWD) and Triunfo Sanitation District (TSD), petitioned a federal court seeking “Declaratory and Injunctive Relief” from the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDLs mandates.
The TMDLs were published by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on July 2 as part of a solution to increase water quality in the Malibu Creek watershed, which empties into the Malibu Lagoon, which recently underwent a restoration project.
The JPA said the cost of implementing the TMDLs will put a pinch on taxpayers without any guarantees of improved water quality.
“We are filing this action on behalf of the ratepayers who will ultimately bear the costs for facilities that would need to be built, yet may not accomplish meaningful water quality improvements," David W. Pedersen, Administering Agent and General Manager for the JPA said in a statement. "As written, the TMDL does not sufficiently recognize native conditions in the watershed and goes far beyond the scope and intent of the Clean Water Act.”
Michael McReynolds, who serves as Chair of both the JPA and Triunfo Sanitation District Boards of Directors, said an agreement could not be reached with the EPA on the process and science behind the regulations
"We felt compelled to file a lawsuit," McReynols said. "In the absence of concrete evidence that the regulations will have the desired effect and in view of the unfair process, the lawsuit was the only course of action left at our disposal. When one considers the staggering costs to the community, it is imperative for sound science and proper process to be at the core of such a significant regulation.”
In March, the JPA filed a petition in federal court, asking to be included among the parties of a consent decree related to the establishment of TMDLs for the Malibu Creek watershed.
To date, that request is still outstanding, awaiting a court decision.
Charles Caspary, JPA Vice-Chair and President of the Las Virgenes Municipal Water District Board said the lawsuit is aimed at protecting the community.
"We support the responsible environmental stewardship of the watershed, but we also believe that water quality goals must be attainable, cost-effective, and produce meaningful results,” Caspary said.
The Las Virgenes-Triunfo Joint Powers Authority serves 100,000 people in the cities of Agoura Hills, Calabasas, Hidden Hills, Westlake Village, portions of Thousand Oaks, Oak Park, North Ranch and surrounding unincorporated areas of Los Angeles and Ventura Counties.