After months of meetings, reviewing documents, and three long days of public hearings on May 8th, 2013 the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board UNANIMOUSLY approved a new regional MS4 stormwater permit. The new permit represents a paradigm shift in stormwater management as it implements a watershed-based approach and moves from an “action oriented” permit to an “outcome oriented” permit.
Best of all, the Regional Board sided with environmentalists and approved the permit without the “safe harbor” clause. The safe harbor clause was a major sticking point for Surfrider San Diego, and would have let copermittees (dischargers) who have not yet achieved clean water standards off the hook as long as they went through a few extra steps. At the two day hearing in April more than 35 Surfrider activists demonstrated their desire for clean water and distain for the safe harbor clause which was essentially a “get-out-of jail-free-card”.
With an increased reliance on Low Impact Development (LID) the new regulations are a big step forward in actually achieving clean water standards. In the coming years, hopefully surfers and swimmers will have to worry less about ear infections, and will be able surf after it rains. This is a huge victory as contaminated stormwater is the largest contributor to ocean pollution and the reason we are not supposed to surf for 72 hours after a rain event.