Defend The Bay maintains the largest legal program focused on water quality protection and advocacy in Orange County.

Founded in 1995 in opposition to a plan by the Irvine Ranch Water District to dump treated sewage into Newport Bay, Defend The Bay’s initial legal success underscored the reality that effective environmental advocacy requires skilled legal capacity.

Defend The Bay’s attorneys work to assure that the Clean Water Act and other environmental protection statutes are faithfully implemented and enforced to protect local waters.

The Legal Team. Defend The Bay  

The heart of Defend The Bay’s legal program is our joint project with the Natural Resources Defense Council. Started in 2000, our effort teams one of the finest national environmental organizations with Defend The Bay’s proven local track record of legal success. The NRDC helped write the Clean Water Act. Their experience helps us defend our Bay and all coastal waters in Orange County.

Our Track Record. Our legal victories include:

Defend The Bay v. U.S. EPA A precedent-setting 1997 victory in federal court against the Environmental Protection Agency, leading to a consent decree bringing Total Maximum Daily Loading restrictions to Southern California. TMDLs are pollution limits required by the Clean Water Act to restore and protect polluted waters such as Newport Bay.

Defend The Bay v. Irvine Ranch Water District. A state court victory in which Defend The Bay defeated an ill-conceived plan to dump wastewater into an already impaired Newport Bay. This was Defend The Bay’s first, and best-known, legal action.

Defend The Bay v. The Irvine Company. A state court victory in which Defend The Bay defeated an attempt by the largest developer in Orange County to build a 600-acre industrial and commercial development upstream of Newport Bay on some of the last remaining strawberry fields in the County. Defend The Bay proved that the project had not received proper environmental review. The Superior Court struck down project approval.

Defend The Bay v. IRWD. Underscoring the need for vigilant legal oversight, when IRWD again ignored the serious concerns Defend The Bay raised about a new plan to fill now-empty San Joaquin Reservoir with wastewater, Defend The Bay returned to court. A Superior Court judge recently agreed, again, with Defend The Bay, and invalidated the plan because of a lack of adequate environmental study.

• Defend The Bay / Department of Transportation. Before the State Water Board, we obtained a precedent-setting decision restricting the discharge of polluted runoff into marine reserves such as Newport Coast’s Crystal Cove State Park. This decision protects not only exquisite local resources but nearly thirty other protected marine reserves that dot the California coast.

4101 Birch Street, Suite 150
Newport Beach, California 92660
Tel. (949)757-0017