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California water laws took center stage in a recent verdict

Water is the lifeblood of many ecosystems, making it one of the earth’s most precious commodities. Accordingly, local, state, and federal authorities take water quality protection seriously.

For example, wastewater from manufacturing or other industrial operations must be discharged in compliance with environmental regulations. If a company’s activities do contaminate local drinking water sources, it may find itself facing an environmental lawsuit and substantial cleanup costs.

In a recent example, the California city of Clovis recently obtained a $22 million award against Shell Oil Co. over allegations of drinking water contamination. The city alleged that Shell Oil failed to protect the drinking-water wells of around 108,000 Clovis residents from a chemical called 1,2,3-trichloropropane, or TCP. A byproduct of making plastic, the chemical may be linked to health ailments including cancer, liver and kidney damage.

In the lawsuit, the city alleged that Shell Oil was aware of the adverse health risks at the time it designed fumigants containing TCP, yet it failed to warn consumers about those risks. The fumigants are injected into the ground to kill tiny worms, which is how the chemical seeped into drinking wells.

Our California law office has helped clients understand the local, state and federal regulations that might apply to their business operations. The laws may govern the use of water in California, or in other cases, be designed to protect water quality. Our consultations may help protect clients from violating applicable laws or regulations. If wastewater is involved, we can help clients obtain the necessary permits. If a dispute has arisen, we can also provide a strong defense, representing clients before the California Water Resources control or in other forums.

Source: The Fresno Bee, “Clovis wins $22 million against Shell Oil over toxic drinking water,” Andrea Castillo, Dec. 21, 2016

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