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REGION : 2 Cities Settle Suit With Steps to Cut Pollution

October 13, 1994|JAMES BENNING

Two South Bay cities have agreed to spend $800,000 to settle a lawsuit charging that they failed to adequately control pollution flowing into local waters.

El Segundo and Hermosa Beach violated the Clean Water Act, according to the suit, which was filed last year by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Santa Monica BayKeeper.

Under the agreement reached last week, El Segundo will develop a runoff control plan and spend about $750,000 to rebuild two storm-water pump stations and upgrade filtering equipment. Hermosa Beach agreed to implement a $50,000 storm-water control program and contribute $7,500 toward the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Project education fund.

In the suit, which was among the first filed under the federal Clean Water Act, the environmental groups alleged the cities violated a permit issued by the Regional Water Quality Control Board by failing to take adequate measures to reduce pollution entering city storm drains. The drains empty onto area beaches and into local waters.

Under the settlement, city officials will develop educational programs and inspect local businesses and industries for illegal dumping. Businesses failing to control pollution will be cited and possibly fined.

Terry Tamminen of BayKeeper, a year-old environmental organization, said El Segundo and Hermosa Beach lagged far behind other South Bay cities in controlling runoff.

He said El Segundo officials failed to remove debris regularly from storm-water catch basins, allowing pollutants to clog pipes and eventually pollute beaches.

But El Segundo City Manager James W. Morrison said the city merely failed to keep thorough records of maintenance work.

In Hermosa Beach, city workers regularly cleaned a street-sweeping vehicle near a storm drain at 6th Street, allowing debris to be washed into the drains, Tamminen said.

Hermosa Beach City Manager Stephen Burrell said the city has employed a contractor to sweep the streets since July, and such practices, if they did occur, do no longer.

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