In the mid-1990s, the NRDC and Baykeeper filed a federal lawsuit claiming the county violated clean water standards by failing to control storm water polluting Santa Monica Bay. The two sides settled in 1996 with the county promising to develop a program to find the type and source of pollutants. In 1999, the same conservation groups sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for failing for 20 years to ensure that state waters were clean. In a settlement that year, the EPA agreed to set pollution limits for the 156 water bodies in Los Angeles and Ventura counties. In this latest round of legal action, the NRDC and Baykeeper say the county and Malibu have routinely violated clean water standards by discharging contaminated water and urban runoff into coastal waters. County data showed that Malibu Creek and the Santa Clara, Los Angeles and San Gabriel rivers repeatedly exceeded safe levels of cyanide, aluminum and fecal coliform. The groups’ notice seeks imposition of penalties for violations of the Clean Water Act ranging from $27,500 to $32,500 per day dating to May 2002. Some of the area’s most famous beaches have been plagued for years by water quality problems, which can make people sick. Los Angeles County had 2,213 beach closings in 2005, the notice said. Christi Hogan, the Malibu city attorney, called the threat of legal action an “unfortunate confrontation” at a time when the city has been spending a lot of time and money to put together a clean water plan. “When have you ever gotten clean water out of a courtroom?” Hogan said. “Of course we didn’t know this was coming. I just opened my mail and bam!” Mark Pestrella, assistant deputy director of the county Department of Public Works, said he was disappointed by the legal action. “The Santa Monica Baykeeper has been a partner in many of the county’s efforts to prevent stormwater pollution, particularly in the north Santa Monica Bay,” Pestrella said in a statement. “Our staff is often side-by-side at the table with the Baykeeper working on solutions, so this announcement does come as a surprise.” 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! LOS ANGELES – A decade after environmental groups settled a federal lawsuit with a plan to control pollution flowing into Southern California coastal waters, they have filed an intent to sue again – this time to force local agencies to actually clean up the water. The Natural Resources Defense Council and the Santa Monica Baykeeper used Los Angeles County’s data to show how the county and the city of Malibu potentially owe millions of dollars in fines for violating the Clean Water Act. The notice, which was sent on May 31, is the first step in filing a federal lawsuit. “This lawsuit focuses explicitly on results measured at the beach and in local waters,” said David Beckman, senior attorney for the NRDC. “No longer could the county merely file a paper program to be in compliance with the Clean Water Act. It would have to actually clean up the water to be in compliance with the Clean Water Act.” The federal law required pollution limits to be set by 1979 for all water in the United States considered unsafe for people and aquatic life.