We believe in protecting the environment, communities, and consumers against harmful toxics. Our work consistently improves environmental quality for those most at risk by providing access to information, strategies and enforcement of environmental, toxics, and community right-to-know laws.
Groundwater in California
ELF joined the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations and the Institute for Fisheries Resources in filing a lawsuit against the State Water Resources Control Board and Siskiyou County, alleging violations of the public trust doctrine, which protects the state’s navigable waters from harm.
In August 2018, the California Court of Appeal ruled that even after the enactment of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act in 2014, these governmental entities are under an obligation to consider the possible negative effects of groundwater pumping on nearby navigable rivers.
Siskiyou County sought review at the California Supreme Court, but review was denied on November 28, 2018. The Court of Appeal’s decision is now definitive law in California.
- Court of Appeal opinion, August 29, 2018
- Press release, September 5, 2018
- Supreme Court denial of Siskiyou County petition for review, November 28, 2018
Transparency in Groundwater Pollution Data
On March 28, 2018, ELF filed suit against the California State Water Resources Control Board, asking the court to invalidate a general permit for agriculture in the Central Valley that permits growers to keep key water quality data secret. Nitrate emitted from irrigated agriculture contaminates drinking water wells throughout the state.
Central Coast Groundwater Pollution Data Secrecy
On May 8, 2015, ELF, in cooperation with California Rural Legal Assistance and the First Amendment Project, filed a lawsuit seeking an end to the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board’s policy of keeping groundwater pollution data secret.
On October 28, 2016, in a victory for local residents and the environment, a San Luis Obispo judge ruled that the board had improperly allowed an agricultural coalition to keep important water pollution records and data from the public.
- Order Granting Petition for Writ of Mandate, October 28, 2016
Agricultural Water Efficiency
On July 11, 2014, ELF announced its intention to sue 22 California water districts if they do not come into compliance with a law requiring them to take basic steps towards water efficiency.