Appellate Court Holds That Regional Water Quality Control Board Approval Of Discharge Permit For Dairies Fails To Satisfy Anti-degradation Policy

In a decision filed on November 6, 2012, the Third District Court of Appeal held that the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board (“Regional Water Board”) failed to comply with the State’s anti-degradation policy in issuing a waste discharge order regulating approximately 1,600 dairies. In Asociacion de Gente Unida Agua v. Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board (Case No. C066410), the court held that the State’s anti-degradation policy (State Water Resources Control Board Resolution No. 68-16) applied to the waste discharge order (“Order”), because it allowed ongoing dairy discharges that might degrade high quality groundwater. Although the Order made certain findings with respect to anti-degradation policy compliance, the court held that such findings were not supported by substantial evidence in the administrative record. The court also held that the record failed to demonstrate that the Order would require the dairies to carry out the “best practicable treatment or control” required by the anti-degradation policy.
The appellate court remanded to the trial court with directions to grant the petition for writ of mandate and to issue a writ requiring the Regional Water Board to comply with the State’s anti-degradation policy.

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