Resolving Conflicting Regulatory Currents
Treated wastewater that flows from the City of Ventura's Department of Sanitation (Department) runs where river water once was. This flow provides a critical habitat for endangered species in the Santa Clara Estuary.
The Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board, at the request of several environmental groups, tried to issue a permit stopping the flow of water. This would have caused a dieback of endangered species in the estuary, causing the Department of Sanitation to violate the Endangered Species Act. The environmentalists hoped by raising the stakes and threatening already endangered species, they would be raising awareness about the larger issue of upstream uses of river water.
We used a public affairs strategy to convince the Board that issuing a regulatory permit that violates the Endangered Species Act was not in its best interest or authority. We also recognized the environmentalists' larger objective and helped secure over $1 million in public funds to study alternative sources of water flow to maintain the critical habitat in the estuary. The Board's modified permit allows the Department to continue discharging its treated wastewater and our compromise solution keeps the whole issue on course toward a more permanent solution.