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Judge Reverses Ruling on Pollution at Surf Beach

LOS ANGELES (CN) - A federal judge sided with Los Angeles County in a environmental dispute over whether it caused the discharge of sewage onto Malibu's Surfrider Beach.

The National Resources Defense Counsel and Santa Monica Baykeeper had previously won summary judgment for some of its claims against the county, which they say contributed to sewage discharge and violated several provisions of a permit regulating urban runoff in Los Angeles.

According to an earlier court ruling from March 2010, the county did not dispute that runoff from municipal storm sewers was one of the sources of fecal bacteria found at the beach. The bacteria in question had exceeded imposed limits "dozens of times in the summer months since 2006," the filing states. But the county had also argued that "there are many other sources of bacteria at Surfrider Beach" and that "none of their storm drains discharge directly to Surfrider Beach."

In the latest development in the case, U.S. District Judge A. Howard Matz threw out the March ruling, finding "the permit no longer contains the operative language upon which the court based is grant of summary judgment to plaintiffs." Matz also concluded that the groups failed to sufficiently link the Surfrider Beach violations to the county for a genuine issue of fact that could stand trial.

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