Northern California River Watch v. City of Healdsburg

In January of 2004, the U.S. District Court issued an order in favor of Northern California River Watch. In the ruling, the court held that a former excavation site, a 58 acre Basalt Pond, was adjacent to the Russian River and was within the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act (CWA). Thus, the City of Healdsburg must obtain a National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit in order to discharge wastewater into the pond; unhappy with this ruling, they appealed it in court on November 16th, 2005.

Please check back for court ruling!

Water covers three-quarters of the earth’s surface. Rivers are the vascular system of the planet, delivering life-giving water to fields and faucets, carving valleys and canyons, depositing rich sediments on alluvial plains, flushing waste to the ocean. A human can survive a month or more without food; without water he or she will perish in a few days. Water, particularly fresh water, makes life as we know it possible.

Like air, water must be reasonably pure for it to sustain plants and animals, including people. For too long, humans have treated rivers, lakes, estuaries, and the ocean as free dumping grounds.

Factories discharge their leftovers into rivers; eroded lands spill sediment into streams; people drain crankcases into storm sewers that empty into bays and bayous. When drinking water gets contaminated, people get sick. When rivers are tainted, fish die, recreation is shut off, and jobs disappear.

River Watch has worked for almost 10 years to protect public health and ecologically sensitive areas from the ravages of pollution due to discharges from sewage treatment plants, stormwater runoff, public and private landfills and gravel mining operations. We believe that some of these facilities discharge hundreds of millions of gallons of treated sewage and poisonous leachate into the environment containing prohibitively high amounts of heavy metals such as mercury, lead, copper, zinc, as well as pesticides and polyaromatic hydrocarbons. Over the years, this pollution can migrate into surrounding area’s polluting wells and nearby streams. Meanwhile, regulatory agencies admit they lack sufficient resources to ensure existing Clean Water laws are enforced and so River Watch takes action to identify and stop pollution while implementing Clean Water Act and other local, state and federal regulations.