Santa Monica Baykeeper Liz Crosson Speaks on 'Standing up for Clean Water'

Santa Monica Baykeeper Liz Crosson shares her views on how the Clean Water Act has helped to clean up our rivers, lakes, and ocean, and how you can help your local Waterkeeper work to ensure swimmable, drinkable and fishable waters are the right of every American.

By Liz Crosson, April 25 - Forty years ago our nation's waterways had become a dumping ground for trash, sewage, oil, and chemicals. A small but powerful network of groups and individuals have used the Clean Water Act to take on powerful corporate and government polluters, and in doing so, have brought our rivers, streams, lakes, bays and ocean back from the brink. Despite the water quality improvements won by the Clean Water Act, there is still considerable work to be done to achieve the act's fishable, swimmable, drinkable goal. Many California lakes, rivers, and beaches are plagued by excess contamination stemming from urban runoff and other more diffuse sources of pollution. Last year in California -- a state often heralded as an environmental leader -- the State Water Resources Control Board found a 170 percent increase in toxicity in rivers, lakes, bays and estuaries since 2006. 

Here in Los Angeles, we have had our fair share of victories for clean water over the years. In fact, just last week, Santa Monica Baykeeper and Natural Resources Defense Council reached a $6.6 million settlement to significantly improve beachwater quality along the Malibu coastline for millions of beachgoers who visit each year. The settlement requires the city to install devices to catch toxic stormwater runoff before it reaches the ocean, thus protecting swimmers from a range of waterborne illnesses including stomach flu, dysentery, hepatitis, neurological disorders, skin rashes and other serious health problems.