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Monday, December 28, 2009

Community Input Shapes LID Ordinance: What Folks Are Saying & How We’re Listening


So far the City of Los Angeles Stormwater Program has held five public meetings on the Low Impact Development (LID) Ordinance from October-December of this year.

The reason for these meetings is simple: your input is important to us! Without it, we have no way to gauge the support we ultimately need to move forward with this important ordinance.

Many of our stakeholders have chimed in. Folks from neighborhood councils, environmental groups, businesses and local community members have all participated.

Here’s a glimpse of what we’ve heard at the community meetings:

“It would be a good idea if the City and County’s LID ordinances are close/almost identical.”

“The City of LA needs to be careful about imposing costs on residents. Some communities may not have the resources to implement LID.”

“It would be a good idea to show people how easy it is to install some of these BMPs (Best Management Practices). People have no concept of what this is all about. “

“We should be focusing on educating people about how LID BMPs increase property values.”


Again, we thank you for all your input and we hope you will continue to stay engaged with us as we move forward in this process. The proposed LID ordinance was indeed shaped by your input. Overall the sentiment at the meetings was one of support with the details of the ordinance being the main concern. We hope all questions were addressed to the best of our ability.

LID directly affects the community, therefore the community (meaning you!) needs to affect the adoption and implementation of the LID Ordinance. The Board of Public Works is meeting on Friday, January 15, 2010 and the decision to move the LID ordinance forward will be discussed and voted on at that time. We encourage you attend this meeting!

*Photo courtesy of the Surfrider Foundation

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Looking for a Last Minute (green) Holiday Gift?


Have you ever walked or driven past a tree and thought to yourself, “What a wonderful addition to this neighborhood?”

In many ways trees define who we are as people. We climb them, watch their leaves change and sometimes even pick their fruit.

Trees are also about more than aesthetics; they help clean the air by absorbing carbon dioxide, which contributes to climate change. Trees also help replenish the soil and reduce the amount of sediment that runs into our local rivers when it rains.

There is no denying it, without trees the world wouldn’t be the same.

One of the Stormwater Program’s partners, TreePeople, is providing the opportunity for individuals to contribute to the local community by dedicating the planting of a new tree.

That’s right: with just a small donation you can help TreePeople plant a tree in Los Angeles in the name of whatever or whomever you would like.

There is simply no denying it, the more trees that are planted the better off the environment is in our city.

So visit their site to learn more about TreePeople and the opportunity to contribute something tangible to a local neighborhood in need of a tree.

(*Photo courtesy of TreePeople.)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Why is LA proposing a Low Impact Development ordinance?

The City of Los Angeles is proposing a LID ordinance for a number of reasons.

First and foremost, LID will dramatically improve water quality in our city. By capturing and either infiltrating or using rainwater more effectively, on a larger scale, our oceans will be cleaner. Beach goers will thank us, not to mention marine life!

Secondly, LID may save the City and its taxpayer’s money. LID provides residents with the opportunity to use rainwater for outside irrigation needs, offsetting their need for potable water and conserving water in this time of drought. Additionally, many of L.A.’s storm drains are challenged with the amount of runoff they are forced to deal with during heavy rainfalls. Much of LA’s storm drain system was built in the 1930s and is simply not equipped to handle runoff from dense urban development which leads to flooding and an unnecessary burden on the system (see LA Downtown News’ article on the aging system).

However, if new and re- developments implement LID and control stormwater more efficiently by infiltrating or using the water before it reaches our creeks, rivers and beaches, our storm drain system will be less burdened with large amounts of urban runoff and may not require costly system upgrades.

Lastly, Los Angeles residents and businesses benefit from clean streets. Less flooding means more liveable communities and less trash flowing into our creeks, rivers, lakes and beaches. A reliable and functional storm drain system means safer, more vibrant neighborhoods. We all win.

LID is just one tool we have in our toolbox that will help us build the future of a cleaner and safer Los Angeles.

Why not use it?

Please take a look at our other LID-related blog posts:

- Board of Public Works Weighs in on LID Ordinance

- Input Needed - Attend the Low Impact Development ordinance community meeting (12/01)

- What exactly is Low Impact Development?

- How will the Low Impact Development ordinance affect LA’s water quality?

- Why is LA’s Bureau of Sanitation department proposing a Low Impact Development ordinance?

- What folks are saying about the Low Impact Development Ordinance – reactions from community groups, businesses and residents

Thursday, December 17, 2009

City of L.A. Surpasses Trash Limit Milestone of 50% Reduction

After investing nearly $50 million toward retrofitting 30,000 catch basins in the city to reduce trash and debris from entering our storm drains, the City of L.A. recently announced we have achieved an over 60% reduction in trash that enters Ballona Creek and the Los Angeles River.

Trash Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), which refers to the amount of trash pollutants that enter the stormwater system on a daily basis, surpassed the goal of a 50% reduction specified to the City by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Under the Clean Water Act the EPA is authorized to require states to develop lists of polluted water bodies. The law mandates that California establish priority rankings of pollutants (TMDLs) for these waters, that is, the maximum allowable amount of pollutants that are legally able to enter our waterways. In the case of trash, the City of Los Angeles was mandated to reach a 50% reduction. We are currently exceeding our goal in meeting these regulations.

In all it is estimated that over 2,300 tons of trash was diverted from reaching and polluting L.A.’s waterways and beaches as a result of the catch basin screen covers. The City projects that Trash TMDL requirements will be achieved three years ahead of schedule of the mandated 2016 deadline established by the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board (the water quality regulating arm of the EPA).

Thursday, December 10, 2009

LID Ordinance Hearing Date Rescheduled to January 15, 2010

Dear Clean Water Supporter,

Thank you for the excellent feedback and comments regarding the proposed Low Impact Development Ordinance. We greatly appreciate the time and effort everyone has put into reviewing the draft ordinance and providing valuable insight to develop a workable and flexible ordinance.

We have been working diligently to address the many comments and concerns voiced by community members regarding the LID Ordinance and we are still in the process of addressing some of the issues raised. To avoid having to rush this ordinance through without checking back with all the involved stakeholders about the final language of the proposed ordinance, we have rescheduled the Board of Public Works hearing date of the LID Ordinance from Friday, December 11, 2009 to Friday, January 15, 2010.

You have the Bureau of Sanitation's commitment to move this Low Impact Development Ordinance forward. We thank you for your continued support and understanding. To view a copy of the December 11, 2009 Board of Public Works agenda, click here.

For ongoing updates about the LID Ordinance, please visit our blog at www.lastormwater.org/teameffort or join our Stormwater Facebook Fan Page.

And, of course, you can always send us your comments and concerns at lastormwater@lacity.org.

Best Regards,

Shahram Kharaghani





L.A. Stormwater Program Manager

Friday, December 4, 2009

Who will be affected by LA’s Low Impact Development ordinance?

You may be wondering how you and your community may be affected by LA’s proposed Low Impact Development (LID) ordinance.

Here’s how.

The proposed Low Impact Development Ordinance will require that all new construction or redevelopment projects within Los Angeles capture the first ¾” of rain generated by a storm. This rainwater, once captured, will then need to be infiltrated into the groundwater or utilized on site. If these requirements cannot be met, project applicants will have the option to build mitigation projects in other locations including public right of way within the same sub-watershed to offset the runoff or pay a fee to the city to fund additional projects that reduce stormwater pollution in the watershed.

Homeowners that are redeveloping or building new structures (1 acre or less in size) will be affected as well, albeit to a much lesser degree. These smaller projects will be also need to capture and use the first ¾” of rain from storms. Homeowners will be required to implement two best management practices on their proposed project site – a rain barrel, permeable driveway, and grassy swales are just a few examples – to capture and use the rainwater. The City will develop a companion guidance LID Handbook to assist the City developers and residents in implementing LID techniques and strategies.

These little improvements, if implemented, could drastically reduce the amount of stormwater that enters our creeks, rivers and lakes every day. In fact, LID has multiple benefits; it will replenish groundwater supplies and conserve potable water used for outdoor irrigation.

Please take a look at our other LID-related blog posts:


- Board of Public Works Weighs in on LID Ordinance

- Input Needed - Attend the Low Impact Development ordinance community meeting (12/01)

- What exactly is Low Impact Development?

- How will the Low Impact Development ordinance affect LA’s water quality?

- Why is LA’s Bureau of Sanitation department proposing a Low Impact Development ordinance?

- What folks are saying about the Low Impact Development Ordinance – reactions from community groups, businesses and residents

Thursday, December 3, 2009

How will the Low Impact Development ordinance affect LA’s water quality?

A few of the water issues we face in Los Angeles such as stormwater pollution and water shortages will be positively impacted by the Low Impact Development (LID) ordinance.

LID, of course, is not a cure all and implementing the tenets of LID will not eliminate stormwater pollution. However, as demonstrated by community-based projects like the Proposition O-funded Oros Green Street project, when stormwater is handled at its source instead at the end of the pipe (i.e. the ocean), it can be a very effective way to address stormwater pollution and improve LA’s water quality.

The proposed LID ordinance will require that all new developments and redevelopments of certain size utilize existing technologies, such as barrels that capture rainwater or permeable driveways that infiltrate the water into the soil. By capturing and using rainwater for future irrigation needs, LID will produce and encourage water conserving practices. The infiltration of rainwater into the soil will produce the much-needed replenishment of groundwater supplies during this time of drought.

If households and developments begin to use these low impact development practices for capturing, infiltrating and using rainwater, Los Angeles could become a model for how large cities successfully make the most of a most precious resource – water.


Please take a look at our other LID-related blog posts:


- Board of Public Works Weighs in on LID Ordinance

- Input Needed - Attend the Low Impact Development ordinance community meeting (12/01)

- What exactly is Low Impact Development?

- How will the Low Impact Development ordinance affect LA’s water quality?

- Why is LA’s Bureau of Sanitation department proposing a Low Impact Development ordinance?

- What folks are saying about the Low Impact Development Ordinance – reactions from community groups, businesses and residents

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

What Exactly is Low Impact Development (LID)?

Low Impact Development (LID) may seem like an oxymoron since development has to have some kind of impact. Right? Certainly any construction does impact its surroundings, but the effect development has on the local environment can actually be negative or positive.

In laymen’s terms, LID refers to land planning and engineering practices that mitigate the impact of stormwater pollution on the local environment.

In many cases, such as urban areas like Los Angeles, land has already been developed, yet up to date pollution controls are not always in place. In other instances when newer developments implement LID at the onset of construction, water pollution from urban runoff can be greatly decreased.

Examples of LID implementation may be bioswales, or areas where water is caught by natural vegetation or other sources before it reaches the storm drain. Another example is rain barrels, which can be attached to a residential home’s downspout in order to capture water before it runs through the streets to the stormwater system.

In short, LID not only improves water quality, it helps to improve our communities by decreasing pollution.

For more detailed information on LID, please visit our website at http://lastormwater.org/Siteorg/program/LID/lidintro.htm

Please take a look at our other LID-related blog posts:

- Board of Public Works Weighs in on LID Ordinance

- Input Needed - Attend the Low Impact Development ordinance community meeting (12/01)

- What exactly is Low Impact Development?

- How will the Low Impact Development ordinance affect LA’s water quality?

- Why is LA’s Bureau of Sanitation department proposing a Low Impact Development ordinance?

- What folks are saying about the Low Impact Development Ordinance – reactions from community groups, businesses and residents

Monday, November 23, 2009

Board of Public Works Weighs in on Low Impact Development Ordinance

This is the first in a series of Low Impact Development (LID) Ordinance updates. Your input and engagement is vital to this process so please stay tuned.

On Friday, November 13, the Board of Public Works discussed the Bureau of Sanitation’s proposed Low Impact Development (LID) ordinance. A total of 30 community members attended the meeting and spoke during the public comment period. In a 2-1 vote the Board decided to postpone their decision about the ordinance until December 11, 2009.

The proposed ordinance calls for all new or re-development projects to capture, infiltrate and use the runoff that is a result of a storm of .75 inches or less. This will prevent pollutants from leaving the development site. If developers are unable to meet these requirements they would be required to provide mitigation projects at other sites or pay a fee to the City to fund other pollution prevention projects.

While the Board agrees that the LID ordinance is important, they would like to allow for more direct, public input on the issue. The Stormwater Program will therefore be hosting an additional community meeting (similar to the October meetings) to encourage public comment.

A meeting will be held on Tuesday, December 1 at 6:30-8:30 at the City of Los Angeles, Bureau of Sanitation, Media Technical Center (2714 Media Center Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90065) to allow residents to provide input on the matter. All are welcome to attend!

Please stay tuned for these upcoming LID-related blog posts:

- Board of Public Works Weighs in on LID Ordinance

- Input Needed - Attend the Low Impact Development ordinance community meeting (12/01)

- What exactly is Low Impact Development?

- How will the Low Impact Development ordinance affect LA’s water quality?

- Why is LA’s Bureau of Sanitation department proposing a Low Impact Development ordinance?

- What folks are saying about the Low Impact Development Ordinance – reactions from community groups, businesses and residents

Friday, November 20, 2009

Your Input Needed! Attend the Low Impact Development Ordinance Meeting (12/1)

Dear Clean Water Supporter,
If you weren't able to attend one of October's Low Impact Development community meetings, you still have a chance to provide your input!

The Stormwater Program invites you to an evening community meeting to encourage public participation and comment on the proposed LID Ordinance for the City of Los Angeles.

Please join us in supporting clean water and clean neighborhoods:

What: City of Los Angeles LID Ordinance Community Meeting

When: Tuesday, December 1, 20096:30 pm - 8:30 pm

Where: City of Los Angeles Bureau of SanitationMedia Technical Center 2714 Media Center Drive Los Angeles, CA 90065

Who: Los Angeles homeowners, developers, environmental groups and all interested parties are encouraged to attend


Please direct questions and your RSVP to lastormwater@lacity.org.


Your input and engagement is vital to this process, so please stay tuned for upcoming LID-related posts.


Sincerely,

Shahram Kharaghani


L.A. Stormwater Program Manager

Monday, November 9, 2009

LOS ANGELES AND EL SEGUNDO CELEBRATE A COMPLETED WATER QUALITY PROJECT

Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl of District 11, El Segundo Mayor Kelly McDowell, Public Works Commissioner Paula Daniels and other dignitaries celebrated today the completion of the Imperial Highway Sunken Median Stormwater Best Management Practices (BMP) project. A gathering was held on Imperial Highway between Pershing Drive and Main Street, and was concluded with theplanting of a tree named "Fred" by Tree Musketeers youth manager Julian Poyourow.

The project was conceptualized by the City of Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation as one of the 32 stormwater improvements funded by the voter-approved Proposition O Clean Water Bond. The project installed a biofiltration system comprised of vegetated swales and an infiltration trench that will collect runoff from a 7.5-acre area and remove bacteria, oil, trash and suspended solids from stormwater that would otherwise be discharged to Santa Monica Bay. Shrubs and trees were also planted in the project area, and an automated irrigation system that uses recycled water was installed.

For more information about this project, visit www.eng.lacity.org/iuprs or call the Department of Public Works, Public Affairs Office at (213) 978-0333. To learn about the Tree Musketeers, see http://www.treemusketeers.org/.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

CA Legislature Passes Water Conservation Bill

The state Legislature finished with one piece of a multi-part water package Tuesday when the Assembly approved a bill mandating a statewide drop in per capita water use. The package, which includes an $11.1-billion bond that must go before voters, would nudge California in new directions on water policy while giving something to each of the major factions that have warred over the state's supplies.

The bond sets aside $3 billion for new storage and $2 billion for ecosystem restoration in the deteriorating Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.
It would also fund recycling and groundwater cleanup important to Southern California, pay for Salton Sea restoration, and watershed projects on the Los Angeles and San Gabriel rivers.

For more information, go to the LA Times article.

Monday, November 2, 2009

FREE Planter Boxes for Businesses (Est Value: $4,500)

We’ve received an overwhelming number of residential applicants for the L.A. Rainwater Harvesting Program, so we thank you for your interest and commitment to protecting water quality!

We do still have available spots for businesses that are interested in receiving a FREE, custom-made planter box. These tailored planter boxes help beautify the property and treat rainwater by capturing and filtering it, thereby reducing the flow of toxic runoff flowing to the ocean. These custom planter boxes are valued at $4,500, but they will be provided at no cost to the businesses for this pilot program! There are less than 10 spots available, so please make sure to sign up soon.

Eligibility requires that the property be a business located within the Ballona Creek Watershed (see green outline).

Visit http://larainwaterharvesting.org/ to sign-up online and please pass this message along to any friends you think may be interested!



Friday, October 30, 2009

Enter Your Pooch In Our Photo Contest

We're getting into the Halloween spirit with a doggie photo contest! Just submit a holiday themed photo of your favorite four-legged friend to our Facebook page (no later than November 9) and you could win a gift card to Eco-Pet LA.*

Not on Facebook? That's OK, you can also email us at LAstormwater@lacity.org



* Thanks to Eco-Pet for the donation. You guys rock!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

LA Prepares for Tricks & Treats this Season

October marks the beginning of the rainy season here in Los Angeles. It is also the time of year when we celebrate a culturally popular holiday – Halloween. As we enter the wet winter months ahead, Los Angeles faces some potentially frightening challenges. Will the El Niño conditions predicted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientists create monstrous storms knocking at LA’s door? How will the devastation left behind by the destructive Station Fire impact the quality of urban runoff in our watersheds? How can bacteria – a hideously hidden pollutant in urban runoff – potentially impact the health of beach goers and marine life?

In this issue of LA Stormwater, we highlight these challenges with a Halloween twist. The articles will feature very real obstacles facing Los Angeles in the months to come, but as you’ll see, every challenge presents an opportunity for Los Angeles to continue in its role as an environmental leader.

In July, NOAA scientists announced the arrival of El Niño, the periodic warming of central and eastern tropical Pacific waters. It is a climate phenomenon with significant influence on global weather and ocean conditions. El Niño’s chilling characteristics have typically included menacing winter storms in the Southland, causing severe flooding, mudslides and compromised water quality from the witch’s brew of polluted urban runoff flowing through creeks, rivers and lakes to our local bays. Even so, regular rainfall is a welcome occurrence in our dry climate. We need water for our crops, our rivers and our soil. It is a vital component of our ecological health. However, too large of a dose all at once can cause serious ramifications to our local waterways, if we're not prepared. Go to this article.

As the school year began in September, Los Angeles experienced the wicked Station Fire. Charring more than 250 square miles in LA County and the Angeles National Forest, this fiendish fire created a smoldering, barren moonscape that could have a devastating impact on water quality in the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers’ watersheds. The rains may loosen sediment and rocks, send mudslides through foothill communities, and clog LA’s storm drain system. Go to this article.

During this season of ghosts and goblins, we are often scared by the monsters that we can see. But in urban runoff, it is an unseen pollutant that can cause the most harm. Bacteria are a hidden pollutant in urban runoff that can cause illnesses in beach goers and marine life alike. In this issue, we’ll explore the causes of bacterial pollution and the problems it can create in our waterways. Go to this article.

Despite the monstrous challenges facing us on this Hallows Eve, opportunities abound to meet and exceed these obstacles. Yes, an El Niño year presents LA with the threat of increased rainfall, but by adopting a few simple good housekeeping practices, homeowners can minimize El Niño’s impact. The damage created by the Station Fire has the potential to create mudslides and sediment flows, but Los Angeles crews are trained and prepared to meet this challenge. And, while bacteria remain a major pollutant of concern, Los Angeles continues to lead the way in developing programs and projects to combat this contaminant.

Enjoy this Halloween issue of LA Stormwater! I remain hopeful that the upcoming rainy season will be filled with more treats than tricks.

Sincerely,


Shahram Kharaghani

Stormwater Program Manager

Taking the Boo out of Bacteria

You can’t see it but it’s there, hiding out, just waiting for you in the storm drain. It's not a ghost or a scary monster, although it is certainly frightening.

It's bacteria.

Unlike other stormwater pollutants such as oil and litter, bacteria cannot be seen with the naked eye. While most environmental microorganisms are part of a natural healthy ecosystem, there is a small percentage of them, found in dog waste and bird droppings, that threaten the health of our environment. And, because animal waste is, unfortunately, prevalent in our cityscape and can be easily broken down by rain and picked up by excess water flowing off of yards, bacteria are often found lurking in our rivers, creeks and lakes. When these harmful microorganisms find their way to our coastline, authorities are forced to close beaches.

As you may know, we have two water drainage systems in Los Angeles, one for wastewater (sanitary sewage system) and one for stormwater (regional storm drain system). Wastewater from our homes (showers, sinks, toilets, etc.) is treated before it is released back into the environment. Harmful bacteria are removed in the process. However, this is not the case with stormwater, which travels untreated through our regional waterways to the ocean.

To reduce the amount of bacteria in our city's urban runoff and to ensure compliance with state regulations (Bacteria Total Maximum Daily Loads, or TMDLs) regarding acceptable harmful bacteria levels in Ballona Creek and Los Angeles River, the City is employing an array of projects and programs to deal with this hidden hazard. "The first step in this process is to find out where the bacteria are hiding and that means ongoing monitoring of LA's rivers, creeks, lakes and shoreline," says Vivian Marquez, Environmental Supervisor with the City's Watershed Protection Program, in describing the City's strategy to first understand the nature of bacteria, its sources (human, warm-blooded animals or avian) and their hotspots. "Once we identify the type of bacteria in a certain waterbody, then we can figure out their source and develop and implement a best management practice that will successfully reduce the level of bacteria. You must know the beast first before you can slay it," continued Marquez.


Partnerships with other regional agencies have also been key in the fight to reduce bacteria levels along Santa Monica Bay. From Castlerock to Imperial Highway along Southern California's coast, 19 low-flow diversions, owned and operated by the City of Los Angeles, City of Santa Monica and County of Los Angeles, divert bacteria-laden urban runoff during the dry summer months to the City's Hyperion Wastewater Plant for treatment before discharge. Annually, these low-flow diversions redirect millions of gallons of polluted urban runoff away from our beaches and into our sanitary sewer system for treatment.

To address the bacteria challenge at the community level, the City recently implemented a pilot Take a Bag, Leave a Bag program in three communities. Working with community leaders in the Elysian Park, Ascot Hills and Sepulveda Basin areas, the City installed permanent dog waste bag dispensers in parks and on trails frequented by dogs and their owners. Partnering community groups agreed to maintain the dispensers by keeping them filled with reusable plastic bags. “We have to work together to reduce the waste and debris that carries harmful bacteria,” says Joyce Amaro, City of Los Angeles Stormwater Public Education Manager. "A big part of this is making dog waste bags accessible to dog owners so that it is convenient for them to always pick up after their dogs," Amaro continued. It is the City's hope to be able to expand this partnership program in future years.

There are several easy ways residents can team with the City to reduce bacteria levels in urban runoff. First, always pick up after your dog. In addition to carrying baleful bacteria which can cause illnesses in people, dog waste can also carry viruses such as Canine Distemper and Canine Parvovirus that are harmful to dogs. Second, only spot apply fertilizers (even if organic) and never use fertilizers or pesticides before a forecasted rain event. This will prevent the fertilizer from being washed off your lawn and into our creeks, rivers and lakes.

Reducing pollution in our creeks, rivers and lakes is a team effort. Utilizing evaluation, engineering and education, the City is doing its part to lower the levels of bacteria in our regional waterways to create a safer and healthier Los Angeles. Yes, bacteria may be a spooktacular pollutant, but together we can take the "Boo!" out of bacteria.


Are you a dog owner? Make sure you're signed up to receive our doggie eUpdates. Simply click here to update your profile, and check "I own a dog" under user preferences.

Wicked Wildfires with Wet Weather...Watershed Woes

Wicked wildfires and frightful floods are a natural and challenging part of the ecological cycle here in California. Fire is essential in Mediterranean ecosystems with certain species of native plants needing fire to guarantee their existence. All too often, however, these fires take place in the fall when the flames are fanned by fierce Santa Ana winds that hauntingly howl through our canyons. These fires leave behind ashy moonscapes and barren areas of land devoid of vegetation. It is these desolate landscapes onto which winter's first raindrops fall, and while rain is always welcomed here in Southern California, vast areas without groundcover mixed with heavy rain produces a new threat - mudslides. The fact that a high percentage of Los Angeles neighborhoods are within the Wildland Urban Interface (or WUI) - areas where homes meet forest or wildland - California's fire and flood cycle presents homeowners with added challenges.

The recent Station Fire vividly demonstrated the devastating impact that fire can have here in the Southland. It claimed two lives, destroyed dozens of homes and scorched a staggering 250 square miles in the foothill communities of La Canada-Flintridge, Altadena, Pasadena and Angeles National Forest. The next challenge we face with an El Niño winter predicted is the increased potential for flooding and mudslides. Barren hillsides and increased rainfall create a calamitous combination for destructive debris flows that can threaten communities, clog our storm drain system and create flooding in LA's watersheds.

In September, Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) teams from the U.S. Forest Service assessed the burn area and its potential for mudslides. The LA Times reported that scientists' concern revolves around a process called "entraining" which is when rain falls on bare ground and washes away topsoil, sand, small rocks and burned plant material creating an unstoppable avalanche.

"As a result of the recent wildfires there will likely be a larger than normal quantity of debris and pollutants captured by our storm drains this winter," says Robert Potter, with the City of Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation. He adds, "In preparation for this season's rain, all City-owned catch basins and debris basins have been cleaned to minimize the possibility of flooding. Sanitation crews will be ready to respond to storm-related emergencies should they occur."

Earlier this month, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) issued a study stating that rainstorms could cause massive debris flows in our local waterways with even the slightest rain falls in the San Gabriel mountains this winter.

"We have calculated really high probabilities of really big flows," said Susan Cannon, a geologist for the USGS. "Some of the areas burned by the Station Fire show the highest likelihood for big debris flows I've ever seen."

Although the Station Fire has ceased, LA's fire season is far from over and our rainy season is just beginning. Residents can do their part to prepare.

Fire Preparedness and Prevention:
- Develop a home fire evacuation plan and discuss it with your family.
- Create a defensible space around your home. Manage the vegetation surrounding your property by removing dead plants and maintaining a 200 foot perimeter between structures and foliage.
- Keep rooftops and gutters free of flammable debris such as leaves or pine cones.
- Heed evacuation order when issued by authorities.

Flooding Preparedness and Prevention:
- Remove or secure loose debris on your property to prevent it from entering our waterways.
- Avoid outdoor watering on rainy days to conserve water and prevent street flooding.
- Use sand bags to direct mud flows away from property.

While the fires and floods here in Southern California are part of a natural cycle we have little control over, we can prepare and minimize their potentially devastating impacts. "The City is a partner with residents," Potter said. "Together we can promote public health and safety during LA's fire and flood season."

For information about fire prevention tips:

Public Works Department Residential Advisory Site: http://dpw.lacounty.gov/care/

City of LA Fire Department: http://lafd.org/

US Forest Service: http://www.fs.fed.us/fire/prev_ed/prevention/index.html

LA County Fire Department: http://www.fire.lacounty.gov/


For information about the connection between fires, flooding and water quality:


Los Angeles Times: Concerns rise about mudslides in areas burned by Station Fire


LA Creek Freak: Invasive plants: like pouring oil on water – and setting it on fire


Rambling LA Blog: Nature-loving Southern Californians are endangering the landscapes they love


National Public Radio: Long Recovery in Store for Scorched Calif. Hillsides

El Nino-He's Back...

In July, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientists announced the return of El Niño, a climate phenomenon with significant influence on global weather. Occurring, on average, once every two to seven years and typically lasting 12 months, El Niño is the warming of central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean waters. Generally, an El Niño event will produce increased rainfall across the east-central and eastern Pacific and drier than normal conditions over northern Australia, Indonesia and the Philippines. The phenomenon was first recognized by South American fishermen who noticed unusually warm Pacific Ocean waters occurring near the beginning of the year. Because it typically happened around Christmas time, it was given the Spanish name El Niño meaning "the Little One."


Here in Southern California, El Niño’s creepy characteristics have typically included multiple menacing winter storms with the potential to cause severe flooding and mudslides. Additionally, the threat of major ocean pollution here in Los Angeles is very real in an El Niño year. "Even on the driest day here in LA, 10 million gallons of urban runoff flows through our rivers, creeks and lakes," states Enrique C. Zaldivar, director of the Bureau of Sanitation. "During one heavy rainstorm the quantity of stormwater runoff flow can increase to one billion gallons," continued Zaldivar. This rainwater unintentionally picks up lecherous litter, dastardly dog droppings and chilling car chemicals, creating a toxic witch's brew that flows untreated to our local bays where it threatens human and environmental health.

During a drought, rain is undoubtedly a welcome occurrence. The key is to ensure that we are treating that rain as a resource instead of a liability. Here are a few simple measures that we can adopt to minimize El Niño’s impact:



  • Organize a clean up in your own community. Remember that all storm drains lead straight to the ocean so picking up litter in your own neighborhood will create a cleaner ocean. For a listing of community clean-ups, visit LAStormwater.org/teameffort


  • Make sure all drains and gutters on your property are debris free and functioning properly. Check the storm drain at the end of your street. If it’s clogged, report it to the City’s Stormwater Hotline at (800) 974-9794.


  • Make sure your yard does not have large bare areas that could create mudflows during a storm. Autumn is a good time to put down mulch and establish native plants.



Yes, El Niño is back, but by adopting a few good housekeeping practices this winter we can work as a team to keep El Niño from becoming the monster that knocks down LA’s door.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Call for Comments on LID Ordinance

The City of LA wants to thank everyone who participated in the Low Impact Development (LID) workshops earlier this month.

A total of 66 program stakeholders attended the workshops, including representatives from a variety of organizations (business/development community, environmental community, neighboring cities and Los Angeles neighborhood councils).

The draft of the LID ordinance is now ready for your review and comments. Please email your comments directly to LAstormwater@lacity.org.

Low Impact Development (LID) is a relatively new approach to managing stormwater and urban runoff while mitigating the negative impacts of development and urbanization. The City has been in the process of developing this ordinance and accompanying Low-Impact Development (LID) manual to provide guidance for Low-Impact Development Standards.

The Stormwater Program is seeking public comments to be received no later than end of day November 6th. The LID ordinance will be presented to the Board of Public Works on November 13th.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Stormwater Reuse Bill Passes in California

A new California bill seeks to expand the role of stormwater management to incorporate strategies that will use it as a resource. The Stormwater Resource Planning Act, SB 790, allows municipalities to tap funds from two of the state’s existing bond funds and use the money for projects that reduce or reuse stormwater, recharge the groundwater supply, create green spaces and enhance wildlife habitats.

With California facing both a budget crisis and a water crisis – the state is currently enduring a third year of drought – the competition will likely be fierce among the many government agencies that manage the state’s stormwater.

LA will of course be one of the cities vying for the extra help. According to Wing Tam, assistant division manager of our Watershed Protection Division (WPD), the money will fund an expansion of the rainwater harvesting projects and green infrastructure, including large cisterns, stream restoration, biofiltration and downspout disconnections.

For more information and stories on this bill, check out L.A. Times's Greenspace Blog.

Rain Barrel Expert Needed ASAP!

The City of Los Angeles is seeking a rain barrel installation expert willing to participate as an instructor in a City of Los Angeles “How To” video.* The video will serve as a tool for residents who are looking to install a rain barrel at their property. The video will be available online as well as in DVD (by request).

Participation will include an announcement of your name and business in the introduction of the video. Please allow a full day (8 hours) of availability for production.

If interested, please send an email no later than Thursday, 10/22/09 to Codi Harris at charris@sga-inc.net with the following information:
How many years have you been installing rain barrels?

About how many rain barrels have you installed?


The following questions are applicable, only if you own or are affiliated with a business that installs rain barrels:

  • What is the business name, address, website?
  • Does the business service clients in the greater Los Angeles area?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Public Invited to Prop O COAC Meeting (10/21)


On Wednesday, October 21, the Citizens Oversight Advisory Committee (COAC) will be hosting a Prop O general meeting where they will be discussing Prop O funded projects such as Echo Park Lake’s rehab and the Westchester Stormwater best management practices project.

The public is welcome to attend this open forum meeting and will be given a slot on the agenda to allow for time to share their thoughts and concerns about Prop O related projects (see agenda items listed below).


The meeting will take place at 2:00 p.m. at the following location:

City Hall East, 15th Floor

200 North Main Street, Room 1500

Los Angeles, CA 90012


Agenda:

1. Approval of the Minutes for September 29, 2009 special meeting

2. City Administrative Officer (CAO)/Chief Legislative Analyst (CLA)/Citizens Oversight Advisory Committee (COAC) representative update on Proposition O (Prop O) issues and Administrative Oversight Committee (AOC) meetings

3. Discussion and Possible Action: Westchester Stormwater BMP project

4. Discussion and Possible Action: Peck Park Canyon Enhancement project Front-funding for Prop 50 grant o Cultural Affairs 1% Arts Fee requirement

5. Discussion and Possible Action: Echo Park Lake Rehabilitation project design update

6. Discussion and Possible Action: Bureaus of Sanitation and Engineering Update on TMDL compliance and project schedules

7. Discussion: Bureau of Engineering Monthly Reports – September 2009

8. Discussion and Possible Action: Biennial Report to City Council

9. Discussion: Low Impact Development Ordinance

10. Discussion and Possible Action: Future agenda items

11. General Public Comment

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

It's Raining, It's Pouring...The Barrels Are Working!


Today's rain has put those newly installed Rainwater Harvesting barrels to work! All of you who have already received your barrels know that they fill up quickly. One good thing to note is that the barrels come equipped with spouts to allow for additional barrels to be hooked up and collect overflow. Also, we've read blog posts about people filling up buckets (during lulls in the rain) to water plants and also hooking up hoses to help divert some of the water to permeable surfaces.

Read some Mar Vista bloggers who are talking about their experience:

http://marvistagreengardenshowcase.blogspot.com/2009/10/our-barrels-runneth-over.html
http://marvistamom.com/2009/10/13/this-just-in-rain-barrels-do-collect-rain/

(Photo from Sherri Akers' barrel)

Rainwater Harvesting to Stop Accepting Applications

Tomorrow is the last day (for residents) to submit an application for the Rainwater Harvesting program. If you have not yet submitted your application, please make sure to do so ASAP at www.larainwaterharvesting.org Please note that businesses are still encouraged to apply after tomorrow's deadline.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

LA WATERSHED PROTECTION DIVISION MANAGER NAMED OUTSTANDING CIVIL ENGINEER

The American Society of Civil Engineers, Metropolitan Los Angeles Branch (ASCE MLAB) named Dr. Shahram Kharaghani, manager of the City of Los Angeles Department of Public Works Bureau of Sanitation Watershed Protection Division, as 2009 Outstanding Civil Engineer in Government. The honor is given to public servants who promote and implement innovative concepts, research and materials to help advance the field of civil engineering.

As manager of the City’s stormwater pollution abatement programs and flood control infrastructure, Shahram ensures the City’s compliance with the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permit and Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL). He is also responsible for the implementation of five stormwater model programs in the areas of Illicit Connection/Discharge, Public Agency, Construction, Planning and Engineering.

Shahram is also credited for the successful passage of Proposition O, the $500-million clean water bond that funds more than 25 stormwater projects that improve water quality in the City of Los Angeles. A stormwater expert with more than 25 years of experience in various aspects of engineering, Shahram is a registered professional civil engineer in the State of California and board-certified environmental engineer.

Shahram will receive the award at the organization’s awards banquet on October 8 at the Tom Bradley Tower in downtown City Hall.

For more information about Shahram and the Watershed Protection Division, visit http://www.lastormwater.org/.

Also be sure to sign up for our e-newsletter to get news from Shahram and our Stormwater Program team.

Monday, September 28, 2009

2009 Stormwater Mitigation Handbook for LA Builders and Developers

The City of Los Angeles recently produced a new Standard Urban Stormwater Mitigation Plan (SUSMP) handbook entitled How to Build Protection for Mother Nature Into Your Project for local designers and developers. To view or download the handbook, click here.

Depending on the type of project, either a Standard Urban Stormwater Mitigation Plan (SUSMP) or a Site Specific Mitigation Plan is required to reduce the quantity and improve the quality of rainfall runoff that leaves the site. Developers are encouraged to coordinate with the City’s SUSMP Public Counter staff during the design phase of their projects to ensure compliance with these regulations. The handbook also provides information on stormwater mitigation features such as vegetated filter strips, porous pavement, flow-through planters, parking lot tree wells, infiltration swales, and rooftop water capture systems.

SUSMP or Site-Specific Mitigation Plans are required as part of a project plan submittal package. Project applicants should contact the City of Los Angeles’ SUSMP Public Counter before submitting a building permit application to the City’s Department of Building and Safety. The City’s SUSMP Public Counter is located at 201 North Figueroa Street, 3rd Floor, Station 18, Los Angeles. CA. SUSMP staff can be reached by calling (213) 482-7066.

Additional information about the City’s Stormwater Program can be found at http://www.lastormwater.org/.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Two Important Stormwater Update Meetings Next Week

1) PROPOSITION “O” GENERAL OBLIGATION BONDS CITIZENS OVERSIGHT ADVISORYCOMMITTEE (COAC)
SPECIAL MEETING
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
1 p.m.
ECHO PARK RECREATION CENTER
1632 Bellevue Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90026
Contact: Mark Tullai - (213) 473-7567
2) TEMESCAL CANYON STORMWATER PROJECT UPDATE
Thursday, October 1, 2009
6 p.m. - 8p.m.
PALISADE BRANCH LIBRARY
861 Alma Real
Los Angeles, CA 90272
Contact: Maria Martin -(213) 485-5753

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Coastal Cleanup Day This Saturday at Locations Throughout LA County

Be a part of the largest volunteer day on the planet on Coastal Cleanup Day!

Date: Saturday, September 19, 2009
Time: 9 am - 12 noon
Who: You + 12,000 other volunteers!
Where: Over 60 locations in L.A. County
Supplies: All cleanup supplies are provided – bags, gloves, data card, pencil, etc.
How to volunteer: Just show up! Learn more

*For other California locations, please visit the California Coastal Commission website at http://www.coastal.ca.gov/

Coastal Cleanup Day (CCD) began in 1985 and has grown into a huge annual event. Every state with a coastline participates, including the Great Lakes states, and even some inland states clean river and lake shores. The one-day cleanup is international—at last count, over 60 nations participated—and may be the largest volunteer day on the planet. Heal the Bay and the Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors are the Los Angeles County coordinators for the state of California's Coastal Cleanup Day. We bring out over 10,000 volunteers to cleanup sites each year in L.A. County to over 60 sites along Santa Monica Bay and along inland creeks and waterways.

Coastal Cleanup Day involves individuals, schools, community and company volunteer groups. Volunteers in Los Angeles County typically collect tens of thousands of pounds of trash and recyclables during a three-hour period. By filling out the trash "data cards" during the cleanup, volunteers are helping to identify and stop polluters in the future. Most people clean at the beach and on foot, but there are also special cleanups for inland creeks, boaters, kayakers, and divers. By far the most common item picked up are cigarette butts. Some of the more unusual items found in recent years were a chandelier, a briefcase full of graham crackers, and a bridal gown.

For all other information, visit www.healthebay.org/ccd

Monday, September 14, 2009

Low Flow Diversion Projects Throughout LA Get Upgrades and Good Grades

Starting in October, five low-flow diversion (LFD) structures located along Pacific Coast Highway in Pacific Palisades will be simultaneously upgraded. Approximately $30 million from Prop O funds will be spent for the upgrades, which will allow the structures to operate year-round during dry weather, as well as for the installment of a new sewer line.



The five LFDs include:

Santa Monica Canyon

Palisades Park at Potrero Canyon

Temescal Canyon

Bay Club Drive

Marquez Avenue


During the dry season (April to October), water run-off funnels into these structures before traveling to the Hyperion Water Treatment Plant near El Segundo, where it is cleaned and released into the ocean.



To date, the five LFDs have been successful in helping three Will Rogers beaches earn high marks from Heal the Bay during the dry season this past year.


For more information on Low Flow Diversion and what the City is doing, click here.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

September 17th: Scoping Meeting for Machado Lake

The Machado Lake Ecosystem Rehabilitation project needs the support of the community to meet the goals of clean water, wildlife improvements, and healthy parks for Los Angeles.

Please come join us and participate in a scoping meeting:

Thursday, September 17
6:30 – 8:30 pm
Kaiser Permanente Hospital Conference Room and Education Center
Located on Normandie Avenue between PCH and Permanente Way
Conference Rooms A1 and A2
Harbor City, CA 90710


The Machado Lake ecosystem, which includes Wilmington Drain, has been negatively impacted by trash, proliferation of invasive plant species, eutrophication, and sediment and nutrient accumulation, which has resulted in degraded water quality, fish and wildlife habitat, and hydraulic capacity.

To address these problems, the City is proposing to implement a variety of measures designed to improve water quality; help meet adopted and future Total Maximum Daily Loads criteria; enhance riparian, wetland, and upland habitats; improve hydrologic and hydraulic conditions; and restore existing recreational amenities as well as develop new ones.

Click here to read more information on the Environment Impact Report and for further details of the scoping meeting.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Elmer Ave Construction Tour Held Next Week

The Elmer Avenue Project is part of the Los Angeles Basin I Water Augmentation Study, a long-term research project led by the Los Angeles & San Gabriel Rivers Watershed Council in partnership with eight local, state, and federal agencies to assess the practical potential to improve surface water quality and increase local groundwater supplies through infiltration of urban storm water runoff.

On July 14th, 2009, construction started on the Elmer Avenue Neighborhood Retrofit Demonstration project. The project, located in Sun Valley, is demonstrating multiple alternative storm water Best Management Practices including infiltration trenches, bio-swales, and permeable surfaces, to create a Green Street.

The construction crew has been making great progress and the residents are excited to see this project moving forward. To date installation of catch basins and the southern infiltration trench have been completed.

As a project partner or supporter of the Elmer Avenue Construction project, the Watershed Council and the Water Augmentation Study Technical Advisory Committee would like to invite you to take a tour of the progress next week:

Elmer Avenue Construction Tour
Thursday, September 3rd, 2009
10am to 11:30am
Elmer Avenue at Keswick Street, Sun Valley, CA 91352

*Please RSVP by August 31st to edward@lasgrwc.org*

Friday, August 21, 2009

Listen to the Rainwater Harvesting Podcast

The Homegrown Evolution blog, kicked off its very fist podcast with a story about the LA Rainwater Harvesting program! Erik Knutzen interviews Wing Tam (LA Stormwater) about the program in the second half of the podcast. The show is concluded with a reaction to the Rainwater Harvesting program from Joe Linton (LA Creek Freak blog). Listen at http://www.homegrownevolution.com/2009/08/homegrown-evolution-podcast-episode-1.html#comments

Thursday, August 13, 2009

LA Rainwater Harvesting Program Generating Community Action and Buzz

The good news keeps on coming! We’ve had over 300 people who have submitted LA Rainwater Harvesting applications thus far and those sign-ups are currently being reviewed for eligibility. The installation stage (where we hook up free rain barrels, reroute downspouts or install free planter boxes) is slated to begin early September.

We want to thank everyone for making the program such a success to date and encourage you to continue to share this exciting Los Angeles Rainwater Harvesting momentum with your friends, families and neighbors! We still need your help in spreading the word.

You may have already seen us highlighted in some of our favorite and trusted blogs including L.A. Creek Freak, Green LA Girl, Mar Vista Green Gardens Showcase, LAist, Chance of Rain, Apartment Therapy, Inspire the Change and Your Daily Thread.

So whether it is via your blog, facebook or twitter, please remind people that every rain drop counts and let them know that they can join in on this win win Rainwater Harvesting pilot program. Direct them to our web site http://larainwaterharvesting.org./ to find out more.

Free rain barrel, downspout disconnect, or planter box. Check.
Free installation. Check.
Save on your water costs. Check.
Save our ocean! Yes!

Monday, August 3, 2009

California Beach Pollution Still on the Rise














Information taken from LA Times article:
California beaches face a rising tide of pollution, study finds

by: Amy Littlefield



The National Resource Defense Council (NRDC) reports a 4% increase in beach pollution violations from 2007-2008.



According to the NRDC report, which collects data through the Enviromental Protection Agency, 10% of water samples at California beaches last year contained more human fecal bacteria than the state allows, creating health and sanitary issues for all beachgoers.



Bacteria can flow into beach water from sewage accidents such as the spill that forced
closures in Long Beach on Monday, but also through stormwater flowing through urban areas. The "urban runoff" pick ups animal waste, fertilizer, motor oil and other contaminants that are dumped into the ocean through our untreated waterways.



Although researchers linked 9% of contamination to sewage and 3% to storm water, the
vast majority (81%) came from unknown sources



These high bacteria levels lead to sickness and beach closures at some of the most popular tourist destinations in Southern California.

For more information on beach water quality, be sure to check out Heal the Bay's Beach Report Card.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Are You Eligible for the FREE Rainwater Harvesting Program?

What's the Rainwater Harvesting Program?

Eariler this month, the Stormwater Program rolled out the City’s first Rainwater Harvesting pilot program that will provide free assistance to residents and commercial businesses willing to collect rainwater for storage and use for their private property irrigation. The program aims to reduce the polluted rainwater that goes into the ocean and help conserve the use of potable water.

“We Angelenos, living in a 'dry' climate, have heard that urban runoff is the greatest source of ocean pollution, and we want to do our part; but we often don't know what we can do to make an impact on such a large problem,” says Pamela Brestler of G3, The Green Gardens Group. “As neighbors disconnect their downspouts and reconnect with each other in communities throughout Los Angeles, the larger pollution problem is significantly reduced and the individuals will feel the power and fun of working with their neighbors to make a difference in their communities,” adds Brestler.

Residents that sign up for the program will be eligible for complementary installations of rain barrels and downspout disconnections, or planter boxes for businesses. The captured rainwater will then be either routed to pervious surfaces or used for on-site irrigation. The program allows residents and businesses to become part of the solution in transforming rainwater from urban runoff to a natural commodity.

Who is Eligible?

The program aims to enlist 600 Los Angeles property owners in the targeted neighborhoods by fall 2009, and will set goals for citywide participation (download our brochure here).

What are the Environmental Benefits?

A typical Los Angeles home directs an average of 14,000 gallons of water down its downspouts and into the storm drain system annually. This water may collect pollutants, including trash, pet waste, oil and grease or other chemicals. As an alternative, the Rainwater Harvesting program will allow homeowners to collect the rainwater and reduce the amount of rainwater pollution entering the Santa Monica Bay. The captured rainwater will be maintained on individual properties to irrigate lawns and gardens thereby also helping residents comply with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s recently-mandated water conservation requirements.

Wing Tam, City of Los Angeles Rainwater Harvesting program manager says, “This program sets an important first step for future citywide roll-out. Our hope is that the pilot areas will begin the momentum needed to generate interest in harvesting rainwater throughout the entire community. Ultimately, the beauty of the program is that it establishes community members and the City as collaborators, both working together for a more sustainable water supply and a clean ocean.”

How is the Program Being Funded?

This program is being funded by the Safe Neighborhood Parks, Clean Water, Clean Air and Coastal Protection Bond Act of 2000 (Prop 12) through the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission and the California Coastal Conservancy.

How Do I Sign-Up?

For more information about the Rainwater Harvesting program and enrollment, including an online sign-up option, please visit LArainwaterharvesting.org or call (562) 597-0205.
Click here to view the e-newsletter article.

Mandatory Water Conservation Hits Los Angeles

Southern California is facing a water supply shortage for the third year in a row. Most of Los Angeles’ water supplies are imported and the sources of this water are greatly impacted by drought and regulatory restrictions. As a result, the City of Los Angeles is calling for drastic water conservation.
Due to this water shortage, on June 1 the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (LADWP) initiated billing changes to Los Angeles customers. Under these new rate changes, the amount of water DWP rate payers are able to purchase at the lowest price – as indicated on monthly bills as “Tier 1”, will be reduced by 15%. Customers already conserving 15% of their Tier 1 allowance will not be affected. However, customers who exceed their monthly Tier 1 allotment will be charged the more expensive Tier 2 rate for every gallon used over Tier 1. These customers will see their water bills rise.

"Los Angeles, quite famously, has imported most of its water since the advent of the Los Angeles Aqueduct almost 100 years ago. Today, with both a natural drought statewide and a regulatory drought due to restrictions placed on the importation of water from the Delta, our water supplies are significantly reduced. We have no choice but to enact mandatory conservation," said David Nahai, LADWP Chief Executive Officer and General Manager. "We all must do our part to cut back on our use of water - especially outdoors, where water can most easily be saved."

The shortage rates program being imposed by LADWP is not the same as water rationing. Under a water rationing program the LADWP would allot a certain amount of water for each customer. Instead, the LADWP is implementing a shortage year rates program. Each customer is allotted 15% less water at the lowest Tier 1 rate, and if the household does not exceed this fixed amount of water, they will avoid paying a higher rate. This “price signal” is intended to encourage customers to conserve water.

In addition to the shortage year rates program, a sprinkler ordinance also went into effect on June 1, making it illegal to water lawns on any day except Mondays and Thursdays. The City now prohibits watering landscaping between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., which includes water that could flow to the storm drain. Also prohibited is the washing off of sidewalks, driveways and the washing of vehicles with a hose unless it has an automatic shut off device. Restaurants have also been impacted; when dining out, patrons will only be served water if they specifically request a glass. LADWP encourages everyone to work together to conserve water. A LADWP water conservation hotline has been set up to report violators. Call (800) DIAL-DWP (800-342-5397) to report someone wasting our city's most precious natural resource.

“It is our hope that these restrictions and rate increases will help individuals conserve water, which is not an endless resource in Southern California,” says Stormwater Program Manager Shahram Kharaghani. “It is the joint goal of the Stormwater Program and the Department of Water and Power to reduce the amount of water consumers use, and in turn help to reduce stormwater runoff contributed by individual households during our dry summer months.”
For easy household water conservation tips, please visit http://www.bewaterwise.com/.

Click here for the e-newsletter article.

Rainwater Gets a Second Chance

Planning efforts for the Proposition O funded Westside Park Rainwater Irrigation Project are currently underway and runoff from 3,700 acres of land adjacent to South Fairfax Avenue will be targeted in an effort to reduce stormwater pollution that currently flows into Ballona Creek and Santa Monica Bay.

Once completed this project will help to reduce beach closures, increase tourism, benefit marine habitat and enable the City to meet stormwater pollutant reduction goals while using stormwater to irrigate the park’s landscape.

“One of the big benefits of the Westside Park Rainwater Irrigation Project is how it will reduce the need for outside water sources for irrigation in this park,” says Wing Tam of the City of Los Angeles Stormwater Program. “In a drought year, using rainwater for irrigation will drastically reduce potable water use in the area and cut our expenses significantly.”

Reusing rainwater is at the heart of the Westside Park Rainwater Irrigation Project. Off-site surface runoff will be diverted from an existing storm drain to a lift station that will filter water through a screen removing floatable waste and heavy sediments. A filtration system consisting of a two-acre network of sub-surface irrigation pipes will provide water to the park's natural vegetation through root uptake. Excess filtered stormwater will be stored in a series of underground chambers. Once these chambers reach their capacity, the surplus water is discharged towards a dry creek and back into a storm drain.

In addition, the Westside Park will benefit the surrounding neighborhood. A playground, that will be financed through sources other than Proposition O, will be developed providing children and their families with a Universally Accessible Playground to romp and play on during a sunny weekend afternoon. An outdoor fitness center featuring exercise equipment will draw health-enthusiasts of all ages. Lastly, a new solar-powered lighting system and fencing will make the surrounding community a safer place for the Angelenos who call the La Cienega/Fairfax area their home.

It is multi-beneficial projects like this that make our communities better," says Cynthia Ruiz, president, Board of Public Works. "It is exciting that we are moving forward with this important stormwater improvement project that will not only affect Westside Park, but the neighborhood at large.”

Construction on the Westside Park Rainwater Irrigation Project will begin in July 2010 and end in July 2011.

Click here to view the e-newsletter article.


In Brief:

Planning begins for Fairfax Proposition O-funded Stormwater project

- Rainwater reuse eliminates using potable water for outdoor irrigation

- Community improvements also include a new, safer park

- Construction will be completed in July 2011