El Segundo moves to sue L.A. over massive Santa Monica Bay sewage spill, foul odors
SANTA MONICA — Officials in the northern part of Santa Monica Bay are moving to sue Los Angeles officials for violating their legal duty to protect the public from sewage spills by allowing raw sewage to flow into the water during the summer months.
During the summer, from Memorial Day to Labor Day, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power releases an estimated 3 million gallons of wastewater from the Los Angeles County Wastewater Treatment Plant into the bay. The sewage, which is treated by the plant, is then pumped back into the Los Angeles River.
Officials in the region say the department has been aware of the sewage-spill problem for years, but has done nothing to fix the problem.
“When we were first notified of the problem in the late 1990s, we called Los Angeles officials to express our concerns,” said Tom O’Reilly, president of the North Santa Monica Bay Coalition, one of the area’s main opponents of the releases.
“We never received an apology and we never received any accountability,” said O’Reilly. “The only thing we got was this lawsuit.”
The L.A. City Attorney’s Office announced late last month that it will move to sue Santa Monica, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, and the county for $20 million in damages for violating state law.
The lawsuit alleges that the area’s water supply and sewage and wastewater treatment systems were designed to accommodate the 3 million gallons per day of untreated sewage released each year into the bay.
The state has jurisdiction because the county and the city are municipalities.
The attorney’s office said the suit will demand that the state conduct an investigation into the pollution impacts of the releases, and then hold public hearings and hold a public hearing to develop a remedy.