Environmental groups sue California water boards to force compliance with Public Records Act

Publisher: Capitol Reports -- Environmental News Link
Reporter: No Byline

OAKLAND, CA (03/28/05) -- Three environmental group have sued the State Water Resources Control Board and all nine Regional Water Quality Control Boards to force compliance with the California Public Records Act. Riverlaw, As You Sow and the San Bruno Mountain Watch filed the lawsuit in Sacramento Superior Court.

The groups claim the state and regional water boards have violated state law by implementing policies contrary to the Public Records Act. Specifically, the groups charge the boards have violated the Public Records Act by 1) preventing inspection of public records at all times during the boards' office hours, 2) burdening requesters with the task of retaining commercial services to obtain copies of the boards' public records, 3) neglecting to make requested public records promptly available, 4) failing to limit charges for copies of public records to the direct costs of duplication, 5) limiting the number of public records that may be reviewed, and 6) limiting the types of public records available for review.

The groups also say the water boards have also not forwarded their policies on access to public records to the California Office of Administrative Law for required review.

"Government transparency is vital to democracy," said Iryna Kwasny, Director of RiverLaw. "The water boards' restrictive policies seriously burden all Californians, including environmental organizations, who wish to monitor the effectiveness of our state's water policies."

RiverLaw is an alliance of the Environmental Law Foundation, Friends of the River and the South Yuba River Citizens League. As You Sow is a non-profit foundation dedicated to the protection of the environment and human health and the improvement of worker and consumer safety, and it promotes environmental education and corporate accountability. More information is available at www.asyousow.org. San Bruno Mountain Watch is a 2100-member nonprofit organization dedicated to the protection and restoration of San Bruno Mountain and its unique resources.