Ry Rivard

Ry Rivard is a reporter for Voice of San Diego. He writes about water and land use. You can reach him at ry.rivard@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5665.

It’s still too soon to know if the drought is truly over. We can’t predict the future, for one thing. Nor can we agree on what is meant by “drought.” President-elect Donald Trump, the California Department of Water Resources, the U.S. Drought Monitor and some top climate scientists all have different definitions.

Jerry Williams self-reported stormwater pollution from his business to the state, as required by law. Environmental groups sued over the reports, and as the legal fight dragged on, Williams closed shop. Meanwhile, other businesses flout the law, don’t do the monitoring and likely make more in profit.

In recent years, San Diego water officials weren’t even looking at paperwork that showed which businesses were polluting local waterways. With no official enforcement happening, private attorneys and environmentalists have taken matters into their own hands, filing dozens of lawsuits against area companies for violating clean water laws.

Across California, there could be thousands or even tens of thousands of businesses dodging environmental rules and sending pollution into the state’s waters. Though an entire regulatory system exists to police businesses and keep water safe for residents and wildlife, the state doesn’t know how many unpermitted businesses are out there, or how much damage they’re doing.

For years, the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board has tried to make cities clean up Chollas Creek. Now, thanks to a regulatory change, the board will wipe away the problem in part by redefining pollution instead of reducing it.

Processing...