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Water Board Sues Army Corps Over Los Angeles River Dredging

U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer

Posted on March 16, 2016

A lawsuit filed by a regional water board accuses the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers of violating the federal Clean Water Act during two dredge and fill operations along the Los Angeles River and its tributaries.

The suit announced Thursday by the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board alleges the Army Corps failed to obtain required water quality certifications ahead of a 2011 project in Glendale and another a year later at the Sepulveda Basin.

Jay Field, an Army Corps spokesman in Los Angeles, told The Associated Press he hasn’t yet seen the lawsuit, which was filed this week in U.S. District Court. The agency typically doesn’t comment about ongoing litigation, he said.

The Army Corps is accused of not doing enough to prevent oil, grease and other pollutants from heavy equipment from entering the water during brush clearing ahead of operations at Glendale Narrows and Haskell Creek.

In addition, Army Corps crews allegedly discharged sediment into the Los Angeles River that could affect water quality and aquatic life and wildlife habitat, according to the suit. Excessive discharges of sediment can limit sunlight from entering the water and in turn inhibit the growth of aquatic plants and destroy spawning habitats for bottom-dwelling organisms and larval fish, officials said.

Charles Stringer, chair of the regional water board, said the noncompliance forced officials to sue “to ensure compliance with laws that protect the water quality and environment of the Los Angeles River and its tributaries.”

The complaint asks the court to halt all non-emergency operations along the Los Angeles River and its tributaries until the Army Corps demonstrates compliance with the Clean Water Act.

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