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Carlsbad to develop water quality improvement plan

CARLSBAD — Continuing its maintenance of water quality within the Carlsbad Watershed, the city will develop a Water Quality Improvement Plan to comply with its permit from the Regional Water Quality Control Board. 

Carlsbad received its latest National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit from the Board on May 8, fulfilling its requirement under the 1972 Clean Water Act, according to a presentation by Carlsbad’s environmental manager Elaine Lukey before City Council at its May 21 meeting.

Under this permit, the city is responsible for ensuring that there are no pollutants in the storm water it releases into local water bodies.

This duty coincides with the city’s work of monitoring water quality within local lagoons and creeks as one of several agencies within the Carlsbad Watershed Management Area.

Lukey noted in her presentation that the new permit allows the city to manage its water bodies differently than previously allowed under earlier permits. Notably, the city is now able to set priorities between the water bodies it manages.

“Under the previous permit, we were expected to do everything, everywhere,” she said.

Currently, there are five bodies of water within the Carlsbad Watershed that are considered to be impaired under state water quality standards due to levels of specific pollutants, according to Lukey. The water bodies, which are Buena Vista Lagoon, Buena Vista Creek, Agua Hedionda Creek, San Marcos Creek and Encinitas Creek, in spite of this, still have healthy ecosystems operating within them and are not considered toxic.

The city will identify where it will focus its main water quality improvement efforts through its Water Quality Improvement Plan, said Lukey.

Carlsbad will hire a private company to help develop its plan and has already released a request for proposals for the project.

The plan will be developed over the next two years as the city and other Carlsbad Watershed agencies continue to monitor the water quality of local water bodies.