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Groups Sue California To Get Cleaner Water

A bird rookery on an island that sits in the middle of a manufactured water c...

Photo by Erik Anderson

Above: A bird rookery on an island that sits in the middle of a manufactured water channel on Sept. 19, 2017

State officials are under fire for not keeping up with legal requirements to track waterways that are polluted or have other problems that affect using those waterways for activities including fishing and swimming.

San Diego Coastkeeper is one of three clean water groups suing the state in an effort to get better water quality. Coastkeeper Matt O'Malley said the groups want to make sure the state complies with federal clean water rules by doing a better job of identifying and listing impaired waterways that don't meet the federal guidelines.

"It includes all waterways, in particular, our groups are looking at some of the river waterways, but its streams creeks lakes, rivers. It could even be bays and even out to the ocean," O'Malley said.

The State Water Board is supposed to identify and list impaired waterways every two years.

"Its aimed at ensuring that the state water board and the regional water board look at accurate data, recent data, in a timely basis every two years as the law provides so we can take that data and work to protect and restore, come up with restoration plans for our waterways," O'Malley said.

Listing a waterway as impaired is a step toward fixing environmental problems. O'Malley said the state is not listing impaired waterways in a timely manner, and officials are using outdated information. Several pro-fishing groups were working on a similar legal action and they will join the clean water groups' challenge.

Clean water advocates in San Diego are getting a boost from California fishing groups hoping to improve water quality around the state.

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