The San Diego Regional Water Quality Board eased cleanup requirements for Chollas Creek on Wednesday — a move that will save local cities over $1 billion.
A decade ago, researchers found that tiny but toxic amounts of dissolved metal hurt marine life in the creek.
So the board imposed strict limits on the amount of copper and zinc allowed in the creek and ordered cities to start cleaning it up. Those metals came from roads, industrial businesses and parking lots. They were mostly carried into the creek by rain. So the cleanup was going to be long, complicated and expensive.
But the rules were based on what’s now considered old and inadequate science.
On Wednesday, the board simply decided that its old limits were too strict. Now, thousands of pounds of copper and zinc will continue to flow into the creek, but it’ll be considered fine.
Environmentalists said the decision was a defeat for low-income people and minorities who live along Chollas Creek, which starts in La Mesa and Lemon Grove then runs through the heart of San Diego and out into the bay.