Welcome to the Clean Water Team!

Thanks for your interest in the City of LA's Team Effort! Together, we are all working towards cleaner neighborhoods and beaches.

Please click here to visit our new and improved LA Team Effort blog!

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

Stormwater Pollution During a Summer Drought? You Betcha...

As the heat rolls into Los Angeles and California enters another period of drought, you may be wondering why stormwater pollution is even an issue during these dry summer months. If there is no rain then there is no urban runoff, right?

Well, not exactly.

It's true that the rainy months in our area increase the amount of water that flows through our city’s creeks and rivers; however, even during months with minimal or no rainfall, approximately 100 million gallons of untreated water still flow from our streets to the ocean every day. That's the equivalent of filling up the Rose Bowl with water 1.2 times.

Where does this water come from? It comes from you and me. It comes from our sprinklers, from our driveways and gardens. Anytime we use water outside our homes and businesses, it has the potential to wash into our storm drains, even in the middle of a dry summer. If you wash your vehicle in your driveway, the soapy water may wash into the street, eventually flowing to the ocean. If you water your lawn excessively, that water, too, may end up flowing to our beaches where it doesn’t belong. Certainly not all the water that enters our storm drains is dirty to begin with, but the chemicals and debris that it picks up along the way are extremely hazardous to our health and safety. Pesticides applied to gardens, fluids leaking from an old car, soap used to wash a new car, StyrofoamÃ’ cups discarded in the gutter by partygoers - urban runoff mixes with all these pollutants creating the toxic soup that flows to our local beaches.

The good news is that by applying a few simple tips we can prevent all of this. This is where good housekeeping practices and water conservation work hand in hand. Not only is it cost effective to limit the amount of water we use, it is also environmentally sound. The less we water our lawns, the less likely we are to contribute to stormwater pollution. Likewise, the less we use pesticides or fertilizer (even if it is organic), the less likely these substances are to enter our waterways.

There are many options available to residents who want to enjoy an attractive garden and reduce their urban runoff footprint. Nurseries can provide gardeners with information about native plants,* as well as creative tips on reducing or eliminating their lawn size, as grass needs a significant amount of water to survive in LA's Mediterranean climate. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the average American family uses 400 gallons of water per day, with 120 gallons of that water used for outdoor purposes. By simply changing outdoor watering habits like installing a drip irrigation system or replanting a portion of a yard with native plant species, each family could potentially decrease or eliminate 840 gallons of water used per week!

Of course in LA where the car is king we all want a clean vehicle, but doing it ourselves in our driveways or on the street creates problems. Not only does it consume quite a bit of water, but the soaps we use, even if biodegradable, can negatively affect water quality, too. When washing a vehicle, consider taking it to a car wash where the water is reused and captured onsite.

These are just a few of the things residents can do this summer to aid the City’s effort in cleaning up our streets and improving our ocean’s water quality. It doesn’t take a great deal of sacrifice to make a significant environmental impact. Our work is dependent on engaged citizens such as yourself to push our city forward. Remember - conserving water and improving its quality is a team effort.


Shahram Kharaghani
Stormwater Program Manager

Click here for the e-newsletter article.

In Brief:

On a dry day, 100 million gallons of water flow to the ocean through the storm drain system. Tips to help reduce storm drain runoff include:
- Reducing sprinkler and landscape watering habits
- Consider replacing grass with native plants
- Reducing water pollution is a community effort and begins with each of us

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

LA Rainwater Harvesting Program Debut: A Huge Success

Yesterday, the LA Stormwater Team attended Mar Vista's Wise Water Expo to start collecting sign-ups for the City's new Rainwater Harvesting Program.

The program offers eligible residents and businesses free installation and materials of rain capture systems. The City either provides rain barrels for on-site irrigation or disconnects downspouts to allow for direct watering routes to permeable surfaces such as landscapes and gardens.

The goal of the program is to minimize the amount of rainwater from entering the streets, where it has the potential to pick up pollutants along the way to the ocean as well as to conserve the use of potable water outdoors.

Mar Vista residents who were eager to save money, conserve water and protect our local environment were the majority of folks who visited our booth. During the event, 60 residents signed up for the program!
We are looking forward to much more participation and success with the launch of this program throughout the City.

For more information on the program , including sign-up details, please visit http://www.larainwaterharvesting.org/ or call Codi Harris at (562) 597-0205.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Mar Vista Rec Center Groundbreaking Ceremony and Open House

Join us for a groundbreaking ceremony, celebrating the kickoff of the Mar Vista Rec Center construction.

Thursday, July 23, 2009
Open house – 10 a.m.
Groundbreaking ceremony – 11 a.m.

East side of the Mar Vista Recreation Center on the 3400 block of Sawtelle Boulevard between Rose Avenue and Palms Boulevard.

This project will divert off‐site surface runoff from an existing storm drain in Sawtelle Boulevard to an underground hydrodynamic separator for removal of heavy sediments, oil, grease, and trash, then to a detention tank under the existing tennis courts for further treatment before being released back into the storm drain system.

Click here for the event flyer.

For more information, contact Michelle Vargas at michelle.vargas@lacity.org or visit http://www.lapropo.org/

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Two Upcoming Public Meetings to Discuss City Restoration Efforts

1. Proposition O Citizens Advisory Committee Meeting

Wednesday July 15, 2009

2:00 p.m.

City Hall East, 15th Floor
Room 1500
200 North Main Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Projects discussed will include:
  • Inner Cabrillo Beach Bacterial Water Quality Improvement project
  • Westchester Stormwater BMP project
  • Allocation of available Prop O funds
For more information, visit www.lapropo.org or contact:
Mark Tullai - (213) 473-7567 /Charles Modica - (213) 473-5704

2. Los Angeles River Revitalization Update and Design Project Workshop
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Meeting One: 1:00 to 3:00 pm
Meeting Two: 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Los Angeles River Center and Gardens
The Atrium in the California Building
570 W. Avenue 26
Los Angeles, CA 90065

Additional Information:

Join us to discuss implementation of the Los Angeles River Revitalization Master Plan
(LARRMP) and to share your input on possibilities for future River projects. To accommodate diverse schedules, two duplicate meetings will be held on the same day—one in the afternoon and one in the evening.

Our two goals are (1) to provide brief updates of various projects and other activities related to the City’s River revitalization efforts and (2) to gather input on future project possibilities through an interactive workshop.

The meetings will first provide updates on current projects (by staff from public agencies and other organizations). The second part of the meetings will be a design charrette workshop to gather input on potential future projects in anticipation of federal support. Your input at the start of this new phase of partnership with the federal government will guide our work in preparing for future funding opportunities.

Updates on a variety of topics related to the LARRMP will be provided, including: the River Improvement Overlay (LA-RIO) District; the Cornfields Arroyo Seco Specific Plan (CASP); the River Revitalization Corporation; the River Keepers; the River Bikeway; River Ecosystem Restoration Feasibility Study; Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) demonstration project opportunities; and various other River projects and activities. Updates by other organizations and groups are welcomed!

Please direct questions to Carol Armstrong or Larry Hsu of the City’s Los Angeles River Project Office: (213) 485-5762, Carol.Armstrong@lacity.org
(213) 485-4562, Lawrence.Hsu@lacity.org

Fore more information on the ongoing LA river efforts, visit www.lariver.org.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

LA Stormwater Reminds You to Help Prevent Pollution This Holiday Weekend

On Saturday, we celebrate another year of our nation’s independence with summer sun, backyard barbeques and firework displays throughout our neighborhoods. The City wants to wish all Angelenos a fun and safe 4th of July and remind everyone to put stormwater pollution prevention tactics to the test this weekend. Make the commitment to join the Team Effort this holiday and keep our City clean for all residents and visitors to enjoy.

We encourage all residents to pick up after themselves when outside during the weekend events. Make sure all litter is properly disposed of in trash and recycling receptacles, so that we can all enjoy clean neighborhoods and beaches throughout the summer. Be sure to sweep up any remaining debris (instead of using a hose) and place it in your trash.

This is also important for the remnants of fireworks and other festive displays (ie: cardboard encasements, shells, packaging), because they contain harmful chemicals that can enter our storm drain system if left on the ground. Perchlorate, a common firework ingredient, remains in water for a long time, polluting our swimming and drinking water, and can also affect thyroid functioning in fish. To avoid beach pollution and storm drain clogs, please pickup any leftovers you see on the streets, beaches and parks.

Thanks for your efforts and Happy 4th of July!

Click here for a list of 4th of July events througout the City and County.