There’s no doubt that 2021 was another challenging year for society, but we have also made progress toward a brighter future. The same sentiment holds true for the environmental movement. While last year’s legislative session was touted as a “bloodbath” by some environmentalists, we still took steps toward cleaner California water for all. Here are California Coastkeeper Alliance’s top 10 achievements over the last year:
- Settled our first Clean Water Act enforcement case, bringing four stormwater polluters into compliance with clean water laws and resulting in $63,000 invested back into those communities harmed by pollution. Private citizens are empowered to act – when the government is unwilling to enforce our clean water laws – through the private right of action under the Clean Water Act. The California Waterkeepers use this tool to ensure polluters are held accountable and provide retribution to the communities harmed by their pollution.
- Incorporated and built a new Monterey Waterkeeper organization whose mission is to protect and restore fishable, swimmable, and drinkable waters within the Monterey Region and along California’s Central Coast for all to enjoy.
- Secured a state commitment to designate new water quality protections for the Point Sur Marine Protected Area to protect it from pollution and safeguard its future as a “hope spot” for California’s biodiversity in the face of climate change.
- Acquired The Otter Project as a program of CCKA to protect our watersheds and coastal oceans to promote the rapid recovery of the threatened California sea otter. As part of this, we introduced a new website and workplan to relaunch the program.
- In collaboration with Monterey Waterkeeper and Santa Barbara Channelkeepeer, we secured new rules to ensure agricultural practices on the Central Coast do not harm our waterways. The rules, known as Ag Order 4.0, require every farm to publicly report fertilizer use for the first time in California, along with requiring increased testing for contamination of drinking water wells in rural, economically disadvantaged communities.
- Secured new stormwater permit conditions that prevent trash, metals, bacteria, and toxic sediment from running off construction sites and California freeways and into our favorite waterways and beaches.
- Convened a coalition of experts to map out a path forward for California to adopt a more equitable and modern water rate structure. These new rates would ensure customers only pay for the water they use, incentivize water conservation during the drought, and improve water quality by minimizing irrigation runoff. The coalition will soon create a white paper and advocate for the state to incentivize these types of water rates for the benefit of California’s water future.
- Secured a state commitment to designate new California waterways as “Outstanding Waters” – the highest level of legal water quality protection afforded by law. These new designations will help California reach its goal to conserve 30% of the state’s land and waters by 2030.
- Sponsored a new law, SB 273 (Hertzberg), to help California divert, capture, and reuse stormwater – and prevent this urban runoff from polluting our rivers and coast.
- Obtained enhanced reporting transparency by the State Water Board for the public to better understand how pollution is enforced and addressed across the state.
Executive Director Sean Bothwell leads CCKA’s initiatives to fight for swimmable, fishable, and drinkable waters for all Californians.