State water regulators have approved plans to manage urban runoff in ecologically sensitive parts of the ocean.
In the 1970s, California designated dozens of areas offshore as biologically significant. That conservation effort tried to protect marine life up and down the food chain.
Fourteen of these areas are in the southern part of the state, but the south coast is also chock-a-block with urban stormwater systems that run off into the ocean and take street pollution along for the ride. So environmental protection for those areas has fallen short.
Now the California Water Resources Control Board has approved an array of permits for urban stormwater runoff into what it calls Areas of Special Biological Significance. Private companies, Caltrans, cities, counties and state parks can continue to release polluted stormwater into the ocean.
During the next two-and-a-half years, those entities will figure out how to clean up that drainage.
Environmental groups have objected that the rules are too lax to work, but state officials say they plan to have permanent runoff pollution controls in place within six years.