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County sues state over water quality

Posted: September 11, 2009 9:43 p.m.
Updated: September 12, 2009 4:55 a.m.
Los Angeles County filed a lawsuit against the state this week claiming the way California investigates and enforces pollution violations by fining local governments is flawed.

“We’ve got to get better at attacking the problem,” said Mark Pestrella, deputy director for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works.

The lawsuit, which Pestrella said could have larger implications, stems from a fight over the method used to determine bacteria levels in the Santa Monica Bay.

Pestrella said the lawsuit challenges the way the state collects scientific evidence and determines who is to blame for pollution.

Currently, he said, it somewhat arbitrarily assigns responsibility to all of the city or county governments involved.

County officials filed the suit on Thursday. State officials have not been officially served with papers yet and were unavailable to comment on the case Friday.

Pestrella said if the lawsuit is successful, the county may use it to fight the state on other, similar issues.

Since 2004, the county and the cities it encompasses have spent more than $200 million a year to improve water quality at local beaches, according to a county statement.


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