A federal court ruled that Washington, D.C. and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have to determine within a year maximum levels of E. coli that can be released into the city’s waters per day.
The District currently does not have a daily limit for E. coli discharge into the Anacostia and Potomac rivers that run through the city.
WUSA9 reported on Tuesday that U.S. District Judge Christopher R. Cooper concluded that the E. coli limits for both rivers are in violation of the Clean Water Act and annulled D.C.’s previous regulations, saying that the EPA failed to approve them according to federal and local laws.
The judge gave the EPA one year to comply with the law as part of his memorandum opinion.
Potomac Riverkeeper Network, an environmental non-profit dedicated to protecting the Potomac River; Anacostia Riverkeeper Inc., a non-profit working to protect and restore the Anacostia River; and Kingman Park Civic Association had filed a federal lawsuit against the total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) approval in August 2016.
TMDLs establish a maximum amount of a pollutant permitted to enter a body of water per day.
The groups asserted that D.C.’s waters could show dangerous levels on any given day if no absolute daily limits are set.
E. coli is a type of fecal bacteria that helps to measure pathogens in rivers, which can cause vomiting, indigestion, diarrhea, and fever, as well as earaches, pink eye, rashes, and skin infections.