Central Coast Water Board Sued Over Pollution Secrecy
Monday, June 1, 2015
SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. – A Monterey resident and the Environmental Law Foundation are suing the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board because the board is allowing a coalition of growers to keep groundwater data secret.
The suit aims to force all growers to publicize which wells test over the limit for nitrates – a toxic byproduct of fertilizer that can contaminate wells.
As of now, a coalition of growers has gotten permission from the water board to submit the data anonymously – without proving that local residents have been warned not to drink the water.
Pearl Kan, a plaintiff's attorney with California Rural Legal Assistance, says the public has a right to know.
"They feel that it is not anybody's business to know where contaminated drinking water is located,” she states. “They don't want to be liable for a potential case of contamination on an individual grower."
Toxic levels of nitrate in drinking water have been linked to cancer, thyroid disease and an illness called Blue Baby Syndrome.
Growers maintain their level of pesticide use is legal and safe.
Kan says the water board needs to enforce California's Public Records Act.
"The government can't be part of a process that enables regulated dischargers to evade providing public records," she stresses.
The lawsuit was filed in San Luis Obispo Superior Court.
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