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CSPA, PEER Victory for Clean Water


Judge orders Carnegie State off-road park to shut down until necessary permits are obtained


by Bill Jennings, CSPA Executive Director

December 14, 2009 -- On Tuesday, 8 December 2009, Judge Roesch of the Alameda Superior Court reaffirmed his 22 September 2009 tentative decision and ordered the Off Highway Motor Vehicle Recreational Division of the California Department of Parks and Recreation (Department) to shut down all off road motor vehicle activity at the Carnegie State Vehicular Recreational Area (Carnegie SVRA) until they file a report of waste discharge (RWD) and obtain a permit for pollutant discharges from the heavily used off-road park.  The park discharges prodigious quantities of heavy metals and sediment into Corral Hollow Creek near Tracy California.

The California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA) and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) filed the lawsuit (Writ) on 17 September 2009 alleging that the off-road park had failed to request and obtain the legally required permit for pollutant discharges from Carnegie's numerous off-road trails.  The lawsuit also alleged that the Department had failed to comply with its own regulations requiring monitoring of soil loss and damage to wildlife habitat.  The park is habitat to a number of species protected under state and federal endangered species acts.

A tentative decision granting the Writ was issued on 22 September 2009 and a “show cause” hearing was scheduled for 4 December 2009 in the event the Department failed to comply with the order.  The Department filed a Demurrer (objection) to the action.

Following the 4 December 2009 hearing, Judge Roesch rejected the state's Demurrer and granted the Writ ordering the Department to “submit a report of waste discharge for water pollution associated with the Carnegie State Vehicular Recreation Area” and to “suspend all off-road highway motor vehicle activity at Carnegie SVRA, including vehicles driving in Corral Hollow Creek” until they “have submitted an RWD and received waste discharge requirements.”

Hopefully, the court's order will prompt the Carnegie SVRA to obtain required permits and begin instituting necessary measures to reduce and eliminate the massive discharge of pollutants into Corral Hollow Creek, as well as prohibiting the extensive motor vehicle activity in the creek itself.  If not, CSPA and PEER are prepared to follow through in seeking sanctions against the Department.