Congress created the list, under section 303(d) of the Clean Water
Act of 1972, as a way of mandating cleanup of dirty streams, lakes
watersheds and any other areas that are used for recreational
In all, the EPA has 679 waterways in California on the list, which
requires more attention from local agencies directed toward their
"The city is already focusing so much of our attention on the
harbor and Bolsa Chica," Councilwoman Debbie Cook said. "We need to
elevate the public's understanding of what we're dealing with."
The EPA added the three Surf City waterways, agreeing with a local
water board that they should be listed. The State Water Quality
Control Board had ignored the regional board's bid to list them. In
all, five new water bodies across the state were added to the list.
"We identified five more water bodies that are polluted and need
to be on that list," said David Smith, an EPA team leader. "We looked
at the data and concluded that there was enough evidence to merit the
listing. There was a disagreement."
Smith said the three waterways, which are connected, show
unacceptable levels of copper, nickel, polychlorinated biphenyls and
a substance known as dieldrin, a chlorinated pesticide that is
Dieldrin is similar to DDT, a controversial pesticide banned in
1973. It has been found in fish tissue in the waterways, Smith said.
PCBs are mixtures of organic chemicals that were used for many
industrial and commercial applications such as electrical equipment,
paints, plastics and rubber products, according to the agency. More
than 1.5 billion pounds of PCBs were produced in the U.S. before they
were banned in 1977.
The chemical has been found in Anaheim Bay and Huntington Harbour,
Smith said. The two metals were found in Bolsa Chica.
In Newport Beach, a string of creeks made the list for the first
time, lending additional regulatory scrutiny to the area. Buck Gully
Creek and Los Trancos Creek made the list for the first time this
Garry Brown, the executive director of Newport Beach-based Orange
County CoastKeeper, led the charge to get the creeks listed. Brown's
group has also done extensive water quality monitoring in Huntington
Harbour and Anaheim Bay.
"They concurred with the state's recommendation, which was our
recommendation," Brown said. "We wanted to put some of the creeks on
the list so we can start cleaning them up."
Once listed, the waterways are subject to what is known as a
"total maximum daily load," a federal standard that limits the amount
of a harmful substance that can be present in the water or sediment.
Local agencies can face substantial fines if they don't adhere to
these maximum daily loads, as they are known.
"My personal goal is to get fairly far down the road before they
put the [total maximum daily loads] in there," Cook said. "It will be
far less expensive for the city."