9th Circuit holds LA County liable for river pollution

This Jan.21,2007 file photo shows a bicyclist riding along a path running along the cement-lined Los Angeles River in Los Angeles. A federal court says Los Angeles County's flood control district has been polluting the LA and San Gabriel rivers with stormwater runoff.
This Jan.21,2007 file photo shows a bicyclist riding along a path running along the cement-lined Los Angeles River in Los Angeles. A federal court says Los Angeles County's flood control district has been polluting the LA and San Gabriel rivers with stormwater runoff. AP Photo/Ric Francis

A federal court says Los Angeles County's flood control district has been polluting the LA and San Gabriel rivers with stormwater runoff.

What ends up in these rivers often ends up in the ocean. Santa Monica Baykeeper and the Natural Resources Defense Council say storms send water through drains – along with a bunch of nasty stuff: bacteria, pathogens, animal waste, motor oil.

All of that's blamed for creating human health problems and pollution levels that violate federal standards. Lawyers for LA County had argued that there isn’t enough evidence to label the county's flood control system as the polluting culprit.

The court ruled that not enough evidence has connected the county's storm drains with pollution at the Santa Clara River and Malibu Creek. But a three-judge panel of the federal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has found enough evidence to finger the county for LA and San Gabriel river pollution.

Now, the environmental groups say they'll seek a court order to force the county to treat or divert storm water in the LA and San Gabriel rivers - before that water, and the pollution it carries, hits the beaches.

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