Interactive Map Visualizes California Water Pollution Problems

Water polluters in California are concentrated along the coast, mostly dumping sewage and industrial waste, and contaminating groundwater, according to an interactive map produced by a California environmental group. The map, developed by California Coastkeeper Alliance, is based on penalties issued by state and regional water boards for “serious” and “multiple chronic” violations of water quality.

Although more than $9 million in penalties have been collected since the law’s inception in 2000, many penalties are never levied or collected by the water boards, and some facilities that trigger mandatory minimum penalties, or MMPs, receive no enforcement action at all. Notably, the water boards have implemented an initiative to reduce the estimated 12,000 backlogged MMP violations, though work remains to be done.

Close to 28 million gallons of sewage spilled into the state’s waterways between 2007 and 2009, according to the California Coastkeeper Alliance. Sewage spills can release biological pathogens and industrial chemicals that are dangerous to human and environmental health.

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About the author

Jill Replogle is a researcher-reporter for FairWarning.

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