The student news site of El Camino College

El Camino College The Union

The student news site of El Camino College

El Camino College The Union

The student news site of El Camino College

El Camino College The Union

Walking a fine line

After almost two years of having decided that cities would be fined if they did not do their part in cleaning up South Bay beaches, the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board has finally sent violation letters to 20 Southland cities demanding that they clean up their act.

Cities like Torrance, Manhattan Beach and El Segundo are threatened with heavy fines of up to $10,000 a day if their beaches fail to meet bacterial standards set by the control board.

“This is great, but is it really going to happen? They’re going to need much more than a warning,” Charles Herzig, oceanography professor, said.

Local governments must meet “total daily loads” or limits on the bacteria, trash, metals and other pollutants that make it into the bay.

“We had 29 violations found in our city (water), but they were all in the same location,” Geoff Dolan, Manhattan Beach city manager, said.

“We were surprised because we have been working hard to maintain a clean water supply,” he said.

Although the warnings came as a surprise to some cities, organizations like Heal the Bay say they are glad that the threat of such a severe punishment has been handed down.

Even though beach water quality has always been an important issue in Southern California, many experts believe that the time to stop talking is here and something needs to get done now.

“We were happy with the action,” Matthew King, communications director of Heal the Bay, said.

“There has always been a lot of talk regarding this issue, but it’s the first time that money is actually involved,” he said.

If the water board can prove that the cities have not met the requirements that are written out in the Shorewater Permit, they will ask that the attorney general pursue civil penalties of up to $25,000 a day.

“The cities must meet very strict requirements that are spelled out for them,” King said.

Experts recognize that heavy rainfall can cause sewage to overflow into storm drains causing the bacteria to flow into local beaches.

Although the cities that are threatened with these hefty fines and the L.A. Regional Water Quality Control Board are finding it hard to come to an agreement, they both agree that they need the help of the public in makng a difference.

That is why they also ask that the residents do their part in helping to keep the water clean.

“At my house, we never really pay attention to how dirty water is until we go out into the beaches,” Zahra Agiba, Manhattan Beach resident and undecided EC major, said.

“I think it’s fine that cities are being called out on this issue, but I don’t think it’s a very important issue for most people,” Agiba said.

Although Heal the Bay has been the No. 1 advocate for clean beaches, the group says it knows it takes more than beach cleanups to keep the beaches clean.

“At Heal the Bay, we see this as a type of parenting situation; we need to discipline and we hope that the cities will do what they have to do,” King said.

That is why the potential fines for those that do not comply with beach cleanups and other methods of keeping their local beaches clean will be faced with these stiffer punishments.

“We are optimistic that city officials will do the right thing,” King said

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