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City of Los Angeles sued for sewage overflows

Something you don´t wanna see where you surf

pic: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

SAN FRANCISCO, California, January 11, 2001 (ENS) - The City of Los Angeles has been cited in federal court for more than 2,000 sewage spills stemming from problems with the city´s wastewater collection system. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB) filed a complaint in federal district court against the city on Monday.

The spills have violated the federal Clean Water Act and state water pollution laws. The EPA and the RWQCB seek to join an existing lawsuit filed by Santa Monica Baykeeper in 1998.

"The high number of spills we´ve seen in the last few years is a serious public health problem," said Alexis Strauss, director of the EPA´s regional water division. "While the City of Los Angeles is improving its sewer system, they need to improve their operating performance and commit to a reasonable schedule for doing so."

Los Angeles has had an ongoing problem with sewage spills, reporting 2065 spills between December 1, 1995 and August 31, 2000. Sewage has often ended up on city streets, in rivers and in the Pacific Ocean. The city has taken action in recent years to reduce its spills, but is still averaging over 50 spills per month.

Operation and maintenance of the city´s wastewater collection system have also created a severe odor problem in several neighborhoods that the complaint seeks to resolve.

"This Regional Board is deeply concerned that the City of Los Angeles sewer system is subject to spills of raw sewage," said RWQCB chair David Nahai. "We call upon the City to take aggressive action to remedy this longstanding problem."

The complaint seeks:

An enforceable commitment to meet the City´s schedule for increasing the capacity of sewage lines.

A reduction in the amount of oil and grease that enters the system and clogs sewage lines.

Improvements to sewage line maintenance, including the clearing of tree roots and grease.
A program to monitor and control odors that escape sewage lines.

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Report by the Environment News Service.


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