SAN FRANCISCO — The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has ordered the California Department of Transportation (CalTrans) to upgrade its statewide stormwater management program and exert stronger controls over stormwater discharges from its road construction and maintenance sites.
The Clean Water Act enforcement action follows a series of EPA field audits of four northern California CalTrans districts. Accompanied by state and regional Water Board representatives, EPA inspected numerous CalTrans construction and maintenance sites, and found violations of the California-issued stormwater permit designed to protect the state’s water resources from polluted stormwater runoff.
"The protection of our waters is one of EPA’s major priorities, and limiting the damage done by stormwater from construction sites is a key goal," said Jared Blumenfeld, regional administrator for EPA Pacific Southwest. "We urge CalTrans to join us in the fight for improved water quality by controlling its stormwater runoff."
CalTrans manages approximately 50,000 miles of California highway and freeway lanes across its 12 districts. Stormwater runoff from CalTrans roads and facilities contain pollutants such as metals, sediment, oil, grease, pesticides, and trash.
"Our action compels CalTrans to strengthen its stormwater program at all levels of the organization if it is to successfully protect California’s rivers and streams," said Alexis Strauss, Water Division director for EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region. "We will ensure full compliance with this enforcement action, and continue to evaluate CalTrans implementation statewide under the current and forthcoming stormwater permit."
Water pollution degrades surface waters making them unsafe for drinking, fishing, and swimming. As authorized by the Clean Water Act, NPDES permits regulate the discharge of pollutants into waters of the United States. Specifically, stormwater runoff is a primary cause of water quality impairments. Since 2001, EPA Region 9 has conducted more than 50 audits of municipal stormwater programs, including state Departments of Transportation. These audits have been conducted to assess compliance and evaluate program effectiveness and can be viewed at www.epa.gov/region9/water/npdes/ms4audits.html.
For more information, visit http://cfpub.epa.gov/npdes/home.cfm?program_id=6.