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Dan Bacher
08-14-2007, 02:26 PM
While the corporate media completely buys Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's posturing as the "green" governor, his anti-environmental policies are destroying the California Delta and water quality throughout the state. Schwarzenegger is undoubtedly the worst governor ever for California's fish and the environment. The Executive Officer of the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board (Regional Board) has acknowledged that the Board is so understaffed that it can’t meet its core regulatory mission of protecting the State’s water quality, according to a press release from the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance. “The Governor proclaims himself to globally environmentally concerned but we’re seeing a major retreat by his Administration’s day-to-day implementation of environmental laws and regulations,” said Jennings. "Rhetoric is meaningless without effective compliance.”

For immediate release: 9 August 2007

For information: Bill Jennings, CSPA Executive Director, 209-464-5067, 209-938-9053 (cell)

Water Board Acknowledges It Can’t Protect Water Quality
Has Less Than A Third Of Staff Necessary To Meet Legal Mandates
Major backsliding in water quality protection

(Stockton, CA) The Executive Officer of the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board
(Regional Board) has acknowledged that the Board is so understaffed that it can’t meet its core
regulatory mission of protecting the State’s water quality. This stunning admission came during
Executive Officer Pamela Creedon’s State of the Central Valley Region presentation at the 2
August 2007 meeting of the Board. The Central Valley Region covers nearly 40% of the State’s
land area, provides drinking water to two-thirds of the State’s population and includes reservoirs
storing nearly 30 million acre feet of water. According to State reports, virtually all of the
waterways within the Region are impaired by an astonishing array of pesticides, metals, salts,
pathogens, fertilizers and industrial chemicals.

Ms. Creedon admitted that, based upon a needs assessment, the Board has only: a) 12% of the
staff necessary to regulate stormwater discharges, b) 16% of those required to regulate dairies, c)
37% necessary to control municipal wastewater discharges, d) 40% of those needed to regulate
landfills, e) 26% of those necessary to control discharges of waste to land and f) only 22% of the
staff crucial to enforcing conditions of the controversial agricultural waivers.

Other Board units are similarly understaffed. For example, the enforcement unit is assigned only
3.5 people, thesurface water monitoring and assessment unit has only 2, underground tanks has only 17 of 41
needed, and the Basin Planning unit has only 11 of the 38 necessary to update the Basin Plans
that are fundamental to all Board actions.

“The waterboards have been systematically deprived of staff necessary to protect water quality
and it is simply disingenuous for the administration to suggest that our rivers and streams are
being protected given these massive shortfalls,” said Bill Jennings, Executive Director of the
California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA). “Since Governor Schwarzenegger’s election,
we’ve witnessed an appalling u-turn in water quality protection: weakened or nonexistent permits,
delayed cleanups and lagging enforcement. Consequently, pollutant loads are rising, waterways
are increasingly degraded and fisheries are collapsing. The result is a threat to public health and
an embezzlement of our legacy of fish and wildlife,” he added.

Illustrative of the Board’s retreat from water quality protection is the backsliding in the more than
200 municipal waste discharge permits, issued pursuant to the federal Clean Water Act. First,
federal funds were returned to USEPA so that the majority of permit writing could be out-sourced
to Tetra Tech (the Regional Board Executive Director’s former employer). Tetra Tech’s permit
writers are located throughout the nation, principally in Virginia and Colorado. These permit
writers lack professional engineering registration in California, have not sworn to uphold California
laws and are unfamiliar with local conditions. Outsourcing has significantly increased the backlog
of unrenewed permits. Second, the Board stopped insisting upon a complete Reports of Waste
Discharge (characterization of the waste stream) before processing a permit. Third, fundamental
regulatory requirements have been ignored and permit conditions have been weakened in an
effort to eliminate costly opposition by dischargers. Fourth, permittees operating in violation of
their permits have been provided with extensions of compliance schedules in order to eliminate
mandatory penalties and avoid having to initiate enforcement actions. Over the last year, CSPA
has appealed some 30 permits to the State Water Board for violations of the most fundamental
regulatory requirements of the Clean Water Act.

Without adequate staff, the Regional Board has turned to largely voluntary and predictably less
effective alternatives to traditional regulation. For example, the Central Valley Region has over
45% of the state’s harvested timber. With only 9 individuals to cover thousands of timber harvest
projects, the Board had no alternative but to turn to conditional waivers of waste discharge
requirements and voluntary compliance to address the adverse impacts of logging.

Similarly, waivers were adopted to address waste discharges from irrigated lands. Under the
agricultural waiver, coalitions of farmers oversee implementation of waiver conditions. These
legally fictitious coalitions have no enforcement authority and cannot require an individual
discharger to take any specific action. The Regional Board doesn’t know who is actually
discharging, where the discharges are occurring, the constituents being discharged, the volume
and concentration of discharged pollutants, whether management measures have been
implemented or whether implemented measures are effective. Regulation of the largest source of
pollution to Central Valley waterways has effectively been delegated to the voluntary goodwill of
groups of dischargers. And the result is that virtually every agricultural dominated waterway is
seriously polluted.

When the State Legislature eliminated funding of core regulatory functions from the General
Fund, they expressly provided the State Water Board with the authority to assess fees to support
necessary regulatory activities. However, the Schwarzenegger administration has refused to
establish a fee schedule sufficient to comply with the law and protect water quality.

Consequently, the waterboards are increasingly relying upon inadequate cookie-cutter permits
that ignore regulatory requirements and self-regulatory “stakeholder” driven programs that have
never previously been successful in protecting water quality.

“The Governor proclaims himself to globally environmentally concerned but we’re seeing a major
retreat by his Administration’s day-to-day implementation of environmental laws and regulations,”
said Jennings “rhetoric is meaningless without effective compliance.”

CSPA is a public benefit conservation and research organization established in 1983 for the purpose of
conserving, restoring, and enhancing the state’s water quality and fishery resources and their aquatic
ecosystems and associated riparian habitats. CSPA has actively promoted the protection of water quality
and fisheries throughout California before state and federal agencies, the State Legislature and Congress
and regularly participates in administrative and judicial proceedings on behalf of its members to protect,
enhance, and restore California’s water quality and fisheries.

SturgeonVirgin
08-14-2007, 06:47 PM
And this surprises who?