Planners join county opposition to proposed water regulations

By Karen Brainard

San Diego County is asking local advisory groups to support its efforts to oppose proposed stormwater regulations that it says will impact development and will be extremely costly.

A public workshop on the proposal will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 13, at 9 a.m. in the City of San Diego Public Utilities Department Wastewater Branch Auditorium, 9192 Topaz Way in San Diego.

Stephanie Gaines, land use and environmental planner for the county’s Department of Public Works, gave a presentation to the Ramona Community Planning Group at its November meeting, on the draft municipal stormwater permit update issued by the San Diego region of the California Regional Quality Control Board (RWQCB). She explained that the regulations stem from the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Water Act and are passed down to the state, regional, and local levels.

Gaines reviewed the proposed National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program that controls water pollution.

“This new permit is a complete departure from the permit we’re under, said Gaines. “It adds a lot of new regulations and requirements. To a lot of them, we don’t see any benefit to water quality.”

Gaines said one of the biggest concerns is a “far-reaching” goal for bacteria Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), the maximum amount of a pollutant that a body of water can receive and still meet requirments. The county estimates that it will spend $2.2 to $4.2 billion over a 20-year period to implement that requirement with no assurance the target can be attained.

Other county concerns are additional requirements for development projects and regulated agencies’ exposure to third-party lawsuits.

In September, county supervisors issued a call to action to protect water quality but to control mounting and unreasonable costs of increased regulations on local governments, business and industry, according to Gaines’ presentation.

Planning group member Chad Anderson said the regulations could become cost prohibitive for builders of private homes or commercial developments. He said the regulations’ language appears to overlap with statements from Agenda 21, the comprehensive global plan for sustainable development that was created at a United Nation’s Earth Summit in 1992. It was signed by more than 178 countries, including the United States, and opponents say it targets private property.

The planning group agreed to send a letter to county Supervisor Dianne Jacob to support her efforts and state that the RWQCB proposed requirements are unreasonable.

More information on the regional water board’s proposal is available at waterboards.ca.gov/sandiego/water_issues/programs/stormwater/index.shtml.

Public comments must be sent by Jan. 11, 2013, to San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board, 9174 Sky Park Court, Suite 100, San Diego, CA. 92123-4340.

According to the county, the new regulations are targeted to be implemented in spring 2013.

   
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