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!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

LA Team Effort Launches a New Blog!

LA Team Effort has transitioned to a more advanced blog platform and will no longer be updating this site. So please check out our new and improved LA Team Effort blog!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Low Impact Development Ordinance Meeting on November 4 at 1:30p.m.

Dear Clean Water Supporter,

We invite you to attend a Low Impact Development (LID) Ordinance Stakeholder Meeting. The meeting details are as follows:

Date: Thursday, November 4, 2010
Time: 1:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.
Location: City of Los Angeles, Bureau of Sanitation, Media Technical Center, 2714 Media Center Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90065, Upstairs Training Rooms A & B

At this meeting, City of Los Angeles representatives will provide information on the following:

- An update on the status of the proposed Low Impact Development Ordinance
- An update from the LID Ordinance Handbook Development Technical Committee on the development of the handbook
- Next steps for the proposed LID Ordinance

Please RSVP to lastormwater@lacity.org. We look forward to seeing you on November 4!

Thank you,

Shahram Kharaghani

L.A. Stormwater Program Manager

P.S. If you'd like to get a refresher on what's happened with the LID ordinance, to date, please take a look at our LID blog posts.

A Forgotten Creek Will Lead the Way

For nearly half a century, the North Atwater Creek has been all but forgotten. Set in the Glendale-Narrows portion of the Los Angeles River, this natural creek has become overgrown with non-native grasses and invasive exotic species such as the Mediterranean Castor oil plant. A man-made creek, the soil in its unstable banks is contaminated from decades of toxic runoff draining from an urban area. For decades, this polluted water has collected in stagnant pools at the base of the creek before being discharged into the LA River through four massive graffiti-ridden culverts.

Not exactly the image of a creek that will lead the Los Angeles River revitalization effort – or is it?

As the lead project for the City of Los Angeles’ proposed Los Angeles River Revitalization Master Plan, the restoration of North Atwater Creek and expansion of North Atwater Park perfectly embodies the objectives of Los Angeles’ renewal of the river and is a microcosm of what the City hopes to achieve up and down the LA River’s 51 miles in years to come. Funded in part by Proposition 50 and undertaken in connection with the settlement of two Clean Water Act enforcement actions (Santa Monica Baykeeper v. City of Los Angeles and United States, and the State of California ex Rel. California Regional Water Quality Control Board, Los Angeles Region v. City of Los Angeles), the North Atwater Park Expansion and Creek Restoration project will use both structural and natural solutions to restore this natural creek and expand its park, simultaneously improving water quality and creating welcome green space for local residents and habitat for wildlife.

Polluted runoff flowing from the 40 acres of urban residential neighborhoods north of the creek is a major concern and to address that ongoing issue, the City will install a capturing device at the top of the creek to intercept trash and bacteria. Another issue that plagues the water quality in North Atwater Creek is the horse waste from equestrian facilities adjacent to the site. The project will work to develop site plans to better address the proper disposal of horse manure.

In addition to structural best management practices that will remove trash and bacteria, the project will also restore the creek and expand the adjacent park, which will improve the quality of life for both the local residents and native wildlife living close to North Atwater Creek. Birds like Black Phoebes and Blue Heron have always called the Los Angeles River their home and the renovation of North Atwater Creek, which will create additional habitat, will encourage these feathered friends to stop and rest a while along its banks. Likewise, the expansion of the park will encourage local residents to stop and enjoy the sights and sounds of North Atwater Creek. Recognizing that the renaissance of this creek provides the perfect opportunity to teach local residents about the Los Angeles River, watersheds and the manner in which structural best management practices and constructed wetlands work together here to improve water quality, the project will include an outdoor classroom gathering space and native demonstration garden providing educational opportunities. Interpretive signage dotting the park will further enhance visits by park goers.

So, while North Atwater Creek may not have not received much attention over the last few decades, that’s about to change. This coming winter, construction crews will begin working on North Atwater Creek, and the City forecasts having this project finished within a year, by winter 2011. And, in the process, a forgotten creek will lead the way – towards cleaner water, increased habitat for native birds and wildlife, new educational and recreational opportunities for local residents and a renaissance for the Los Angeles River.

Please join Councilman Tom LaBonge and officials from the Departments of Public Works, Recreation and Parks and Water and Power at the North Atwater Park Expansion and Creek Restoration Ground Breaking Ceremony, 2:00 p.m., Thursday, October 28, 2010, 3900 Chevy Chase Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90039.

Friends of the LA River: Interview with Shelly Backlar

Shelly Backlar is the executive director of the not-for-profit Friends of the LA River (FoLAR), an advocacy group that promotes the restoration and revitalization of the river. She recently spoke with LA Stormwater about FoLAR and some of the issues they are currently tackling.

When and why was the Friends of the LA River (FoLAR) founded?

Friends of the Los Angeles River was founded back in 1986 as a 40-year Art Work to bring the Los Angeles River back to life. FoLAR’s founder, Lewis MacAdams and two friends, Patt Patterson and Roger Wong, cut the chain-link fence in downtown Los Angeles near First Street and walked upstream to the Arroyo Seco / Los Angeles River Confluence – the birthplace of Los Angeles. They decided that someone had to speak on behalf of the River and it would be them. Lewis envisioned the gospel tune, “Let’s All Gather at the River” as his inspiration for the organization. When he started he thought his job would be to convince people that the River had the potential to unite and inspire communities but he soon realized that he had to convince people that there IS a River in Los Angeles. Next year FoLAR will celebrate its 25th anniversary as the original voice of the River. Look how far we’ve come!

What do you currently see as FoLAR’s biggest challenge?

FoLAR’s biggest challenge right now is making sure that we continue to increase our organizational capacity to accomplish everything we want to accomplish with a very small staff. A lot of our success can be attributed to collaborating with other like-minded organizations as we did with the campaigns to transform both the Cornfield and Taylor Yard into state parks – Los Angeles State Historic and Rio de Los Angeles State Parks. We also work very closely with the Los Angeles Conservation Corps’ L.A. River Keepers to implement our outdoor education program, River School, as well as our Great Los Angeles River CleanUp, La Gran Limpieza. We are getting better and better at fundraising, securing grants for programmatic expenses, but can always use general operating funds to keep us moving forward in more and more creative ways.

How about its biggest success?

FoLAR’s biggest success is reflected in the number of stakeholders that are working to make the River and its watershed a better place for us all. The fact that Los Angeles County adopted its Los Angeles River Master Plan back in the ‘90s paved the way for improvements along the River from pocket parks to the Dominguez Gap Wetlands project. The City of Long Beach adopted a vision plan for the River, the Los Angeles River Revitalization Master Plan focuses on a vision for transforming the 32 miles of River within Los Angeles’ jurisdiction and groups like Save L.A. River Open Space are developing plans for restoring wetland habitat in communities like Studio City. Most recently when Lisa Jackson, the EPA’s Administrative Deputy, announced that the Los Angeles River is “a traditionally navigable waterway” she also said "A clean, vibrant L.A. River system can help revitalize struggling communities, promoting growth and jobs for residents of Los Angeles. We want the L.A. River to demonstrate how urban waterways across the country can serve as assets in building stronger neighborhoods, attracting new businesses and creating new jobs." This is what FoLAR and others have echoed for years so to hear the head of the EPA say these words with such enthusiasm, it made me realize that anything is possible.

If you could tell people in LA two things about how they can best help protect and improve the LA River, what would those be?

When it comes to protecting and improving the Los Angeles River I would ask people to think about the things they do on a daily basis and how their actions can affect the River. For example, if you walk your dog make sure that you pick up after him or her. Animal waste is a source of bacteria and if it washes into the storm drains, through the River and out into the ocean it can cause disease. You can cut down on the number of plastic bags that end up in our neighborhoods and waterways by bringing reusable bags to the market with you and, if you use a plastic water bottle make sure that you recycle it. Little things like that go a long way to keeping the River and ocean ecosystems cleaner and healthier.

What kind of wildlife will you find in and along the LA River?

The Los Angeles River is teeming with bird life and I always feel like a little girl when I spot a great blue heron or an egret or even an osprey. While one would expect to see more birds in the natural-bottom portions of the River, shorebirds can be found along the concrete sections where algae provides a food source. In addition to several different bird species the River also has several fish species such as tilapia, catfish and carp that can be seen spawning at the end of March and early April. You can also see turtles, crawfish, coyotes, raccoons, bullfrogs and even an occasional mountain lion near Griffith Park.

What do you like best about your job?

I love being out on the River listening to the water, seeing the birds and knowing that all of this exists in our urban environment. Being able to share the River with people of all ages is such a thrill. I also really enjoy speaking to groups of all ages about the River’s past, present and future. It is so exciting to think about being able to fish and kayak and even swim in the River. That’s what FoLAR is working for, a swimmable, fishable, boatable Los Angeles River.

Shelly Backlar joined Friends of the Los Angeles River as the Executive Director in 2003. As a member of the Los Angeles River Plastics Industry Task Force, initiated by Ad-Hoc Los Angeles River Committee Chair Ed Reyes, she collaborated with executives and city staff to ensure that plastic bags and fast-food waste do not wind up in the River. Shelly is one of 32 people asked by Councilmember Reyes to join an Advisory Committee to provide review, critique and advice to the City’s Los Angeles River Revitalization Master Plan. Shelly is a member of the Citizen’s Advisory Committee for the Sixth Street Viaduct Seismic Retrofit project, and an Advisory Committee Member for the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers Watershed Council. She was just invited to join the Recycled Water Advisory Group, convened by the Department of Water and Power and the Bureau of Sanitation. Shelly speaks frequently at conferences, with the media and with myriad others about FoLAR’s vision and the issues affecting the future of the Los Angeles River.

*Photo courtesy of the LA Times.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Our Fave 5 Facts about the LA River

We all know what it is, where it is and most of us even know what it does. It’s in the background of our city, but in many ways it’s the heart of LA. It flows through our communities and to the ocean we all enjoy and love. It’s none other than the Los Angeles River.

So what do we really know about the river aside from it being a concrete channel leading runoff to the ocean? Below is a handful of fun and interesting tidbits we thought you’d enjoy.

1. The Gabrielino Indians first inhabited the area near the river. They did so for hundreds of years prior to the arrival of the Spanish. Gabrielino villages numbered over 45 and were located near the Los Angeles River, mostly in the San Fernando Valley.(1)

2. The LA River was at one time our city’s sole water supply.(2)

3. The LA River is the longest paved waterway in the world, running 51 miles out of the San Gabriel Mountains, through municipal jurisdictions (which includes 16 cities), and then flows into Long Beach Harbor. Click here to read about why impermeable surfaces are bad news for water quality.(3)

4. There are more than 120 crossings along the LA River’s entire reach.(4)

5. In 2008, the Friends of the Los Angeles River (FOLAR) documented eight types of fish living within the river: largemouth bass, green sunfish, tilapia, black bullhead, Amazon sailfish catfish, carp, fathead minnow and mosquitofish. Read our interview with FOLAR’s President, Shelly Backlar.(5)

What has been your experience with the LA River? Non-existent? Fond? Mixed? Let us know by scribbling your thoughts below and sharing your pics on our Facebook page.

(1) McCawley, William. 1996. The First Angelinos: The Gabrielino Indians of Los Angeles. Malki Museum Press, Banning, California. ISBN 0-9651016-1-4
(2) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Los_Angeles_River
(3) “Long Beach Shore: The LA River’s Dumping Ground”, Keith Higginbotham, Long Beach Post, May, 27, 2010
(4) Federal Highway Administration 2009 National Bridge Inventory (NBI)
(5) "2008 Los Angeles River Fish Study". Friends of the Los Angeles River. www.folar.org.

*Photo courtesy of Sunset.com

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

QuikScience Challenge 2011!

The USC Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies and Quiksilver, Inc have teamed up for a new science education program that is sure to make a splash!

It is the QuikScience Challenge 2011 and is described as a multi-faceted competition for student teams to spark their interest in science and the ocean. The Challenge will also foster leadership, environmental awareness and stewardship. There are two Challenges, one for middle school teams as well as one for high school teams.

QuikScience Challenge projects will include an ocean science lesson, a community service project, a solution to an environmental problem, a portfolio and a creative presentation of the team’s work.

If you live in California or Hawaii you are eligible to enter the Challenge. First place winners will travel to USC Wrigley Marine Science Center on Catalina Island for an entire week for education and fun! Second place teams will receive a 4 day trip to the same location.

But every team is a winner with many prizes and drawings for all. Who knew science education could be so much fun?

Registration ends October 29, 2010. For more information, please visit the QuckScience Challenge site.

*Photo courtesy of EarthZine.org

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Three Rainwater Harvesting Workshops in Santa Monica

Are you thinking about installing rain barrels around your house? Or do you just want to learn more about rainwater harvesting, like how to reuse the water or a few safety tips? Well, the City of Los Angeles, along with the Cities of Pasadena and Santa Monica are having a few events that are right for you!

To be presented at the Santa Monica Rainwater Fair on Sunday, October 17, the American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association (ARCSA) will be hosting a one-day course on general rainwater harvesting. The session will provide an overview of rainwater harvesting history, methods of applications, including concepts and techniques for uses such as landscape irrigation and wildlife management. This event will be free of charge.

If you are busy on Sunday, there are also two advanced rainwater harvesting events (at a cost of $295 per workshop) to be held on October 18 & 19 by ARCSA at the Santa Monica Library. These courses will provide more in depth harvesting design and installation tips, out-door and in-home rainwater use ideas, as well as rules, regulations and much more!

To register for any of the aforementioned events, please visit: www.arcsa.org

*Photo courtesy of EcologicalGardens.com

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Monthly Events: Be an Eco-Champion this October!

The heat wave is behind us. That means one less excuse for not getting out into the sunshine for a day of eco volunteering. Below are a few great opportunities to build community and help make our city a bit more green.

>On Thursday, October 7th, come out to Park Work Day in Beverly Hills where Tree People and volunteers will be getting rid of unwanted, invasive plants as well as working to reduce slopes from erosion at an area park.

>Saturday, October 9th will also prove to be a great day for volunteering. There are a number of community cleanups and restoration events taking place around the area, from Santa Monica Bay Keeper, Friends of Ballona Wetlands, City of Los Angeles, to name just three.

>CicLAvia will be going strong on Sunday, October 10th. Haven't heard of CicLAvia? Well, come out on Sunday to find out! (Hint: Streets are opened all, and so are our public spaces from Boyle Heights to Downtown, MacArthur Park to East Hollywood!)

>On Wednesday, October 13th the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers Watershed Council's will be hosting a Wildland Weed Strategic Approaches Field Course, where you will get the skinny on all the good ways to get rid of bad weeds.

>Have plans for Saturday, October 16th? Well now you do! Heal the Bay will be in Venice ensuring that the beach is known for its great sand and not trash. Come out to pitch a hand.

>On Sunday, October 17th, the American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association will be in Santa Monica holding a seminar on all things rainwater.

>Tree People will be at it again on Sunday, October 23rd in West LA for a little planting. Volunteers needed, the more the merrier (and the more trees that will be put into the ground).

>The last 3 days of October will prove to be awesome with the Eco Maya Festival where ecological education, culture and health will be the focus. The event will take place at Los Angeles City College.

Do you plan on attending any of the upcoming cleanups or events? Which cleanups or events will you be checking out this month? Also, be sure to check out a complete list of October’s upcoming events.

*Photo courtesy of the California Coastal Commission

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Riverdale Green Street Project: Ribbon Cutting & Neighborhood Celebration on 9/29

Who among us hasn’t experienced the joy of planting a seed, nurturing the seedling and proudly watching it blossom into a young tree or flowering shrub. And so it goes with ideas. An idea is planted, nurtured and supported, and in time, that idea grows into a movement that positively changes lives and neighborhoods.

The City’s Stormwater Program is undergoing a similar transformation with new ideas for how to responsibly manage rain flows at the neighborhood level. So come join us as we unveil one of these projects that embody this new vision and approach.

The Elysian Valley’s Riverdale Green Street Project will celebrate its recent completion on Wednesday, September 29 with a ribbon cutting, and you are invited!

For more information on the time and location of the event, click here for a downloadable flyer.

For decades, runoff from storms was viewed as a liability; a community danger that needed to be diverted to storm drains as quickly as possible to avoid flooding and damage. Sadly, the runoff was often times contaminated with a wide array of pollutants ranging from pet waste to trash to used motor oil, and this runoff flowed untreated through our creeks and rivers, sending a toxic stew to area beaches.

Now, in this era of mandatory water conservation and economic challenges, the idea of rethinking the management of rainwater and using that water for irrigation purposes or infiltrating it back into diminishing ground water supplies is taking root. And with that new way of thinking, came the Riverdale Avenue Green Street Project.

Following in the footsteps of Oros Green Street and Elmer Avenue Green Street, this pilot project seeks to plant the seeds for a greener LA by creating a new green street standard here in the southland.

The Riverdale Green Street Project, initiated by the City of Los Angeles and whose major funding source is the California Coastal Conservancy, utilizes stormwater parkway planters to treat and infiltrate polluted urban runoff.

Completed in early August 2010, the primary goal of this project is to create a model for a new standard of residential street design. The project retrofited the existing parkways on both sides of Riverdale Avenue, between Crystal Street and its terminus at the west side of the Los Angeles River, with infiltration units that will capture and treat stormwater runoff from 14 acres of residential land. Parkway landscaping featuring drought-tolerant natives will be planted above these buried devices.

This new way of constructing city streets and parkways will serve the dual purpose of treating contaminated urban runoff while simultaneously irrigating the parkway vegetation. Lauded by the environmental community and residents alike, this project will provide improved water quality in the Los Angeles River and, ultimately, San Pedro Bay. The City plans to monitor the quality of water flowing into the LA River from this project with the hope that it will provide a very real model in developing sustainable standards for future street design.

So join us on celebrating the Riverdale Green Street’s completion. It’s literally a road to a green future.

*Photo courtesy of LA Creek Freak

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Tale of Two Green Streets

All across America, the idea of “going green” has taken off. Everywhere people are beginning to understand that our day-to-day actions have had a cumulative impact on Earth. And, with that understanding comes the desire to reduce that effect with a greener lifestyle. “Green” has become the new gold standard for how we live our lives to ensure the future health and sustainability of our world.

It won’t be too long before the term “green streets” will join the ranks of household ideas promoting environmental consciousness. When we speak of “green streets,” some may think that we’re talking about ripping up streets and reverting back to the days of dusty country roads. Here in LA, the second largest city in the US, we’ll never be able to go back to those days of yesteryear. Instead, the term “green streets” refers to a new way of thinking, a new and sustainable way of constructing streets to promote the management of polluted stormwater runoff.

Two streets in the Elysian Valley community are paving the way towards creating a new green streets standard here in LA. Three years ago, the City of Los Angeles and community group North East Trees partnered together to build the Oros Green Street Project with funding from the California Water Quality Control Board and Proposition O, LA’s Clean Water Bond. Using cutting edge technology, this model project constructed five stormwater gardens in Oros Street’s parkway to capture and infiltrate storm water runoff. Today, this project continues to demonstrate that green streets will help Los Angeles reach its goal of reducing pollutants in our local rivers, creeks, lakes and beaches.

The Oros Green Street Project proved that stormwater management within our city streets was possible. The next project – the Riverdale Avenue Green Street Project – works towards establishing the City standard.
The Riverdale Avenue Green Street pilot project, initiated by the City of Los Angeles and whose major funding source is the California Coastal Conservancy, utilizes stormwater parkway planters to treat and infiltrate polluted urban runoff. Completed in early August 2010, the primary goal of this project is to create a model for a new standard of residential street design. The project retrofits the existing parkways on both sides of Riverdale Avenue, between Crystal Street and its terminus at the south side of the Los Angeles River, with infiltration units that will capture and treat stormwater runoff from 14 acres of residential land. Parkway landscaping featuring drought-tolerant natives will be planted above these buried devices.

This new way of constructing city streets and parkways will serve the dual purpose of treating contaminated urban runoff and simultaneously irrigate the parkway vegetation. Lauded by the environmental community and residents alike, this project will provide improved water quality in the Los Angeles River and, ultimately, San Pedro Bay. The City plans to monitor the quality of water flowing into the LA River from this project with the hope that this demonstration project will provide a very real model in developing sustainable standards for future street design.

Since the beginning of time, roads have provided humanity with a means to get to a new destination. It’s appropriate then that green streets are providing Angelenos with cleaner communities and water ways – paving the way towards a more sustainable future for all of Los Angeles.

*Riverdale Ave. photo courtesy of LA Creek Freak

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Countdown to California Coastal Cleanup Day!

On Saturday September 25, 2010 the 26th Annual Coastal Cleanup Day will be held across California. Last year’s turn out for the largest marine environment event in the country was enormous here in the Golden State. Over 80,600 great volunteers collected over 1.3 million pounds of trash and recyclables.

This year promises to be just as successful!

California Coastal Cleanup Day is made possible by the California Coastal Commission's Adopt-A-Beach program. From 9 a.m. to Noon this coming Saturday, volunteers will be congregating at over 50 locations in LA County alone. And it’s not too late to join in the cause to pick up unwanted litter before it makes its way into our waterways!

Heal the Bay along with the Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors are the LA County coordinators for the cleanup events. Check out Heal the Bay’s webpage to find a location near you and help make 2010 as successful as 2009.

The ocean will thank you!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Stormwater Partner Earns Pioneer Woman of the Year!

The City of Los Angeles Stormwater Program would not be successful if it weren’t for our gracious, committed partners. Our work’s outcome is enhanced due to the amount of talent and knowledge we are privileged to work with every single day.

That’s why we are pleased to announce that Sherri Akers, a community environmental advocate and supporter of the Stormwater Program who lives in Mar Vista, was recently awarded the 2010 Pioneer Woman of the Year in Council District 11 by Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl.

“I am truly honored to accept this award as it recognizes that each of us can make a difference. I feel very lucky to be part of a community that is dedicated to public service and shares my passion for conservation and environmental change,” said Akers after she received the award. “We have the perfect ingredients n strong civic support from Councilman Rosendahl, the Mar Vista Community Council and an engaged community with an environmental focus. It’s exciting to see our efforts seeding action in other communities.”

To read more about Sherri’s great work and the award she worked so hard to earn, please check out this great piece in The Argonaut.

The Stormwater Program congratulates you Sherri Akers!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Third Ballona Creek Watershed Meeting Scheduled for Tuesday, September 21st

The City of Los Angeles Stormwater Program, on behalf of the Ballona Creek watershed, invites you to participate in the third workshop for the development of Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL) Implementation Plans for the Ballona Creek watershed on Tuesday, September 21st.

The two previous workshops discussed the identification and prioritization of pollutant hotspots and opportunities for water quality improvement projects in the Ballona Creek watershed. With your great input, this resulted in two Implementation Plans for the Ballona Creek Bacteria and Metals TMDLs. The third workshop will be dedicated to the development of the third Implementation Plan for the Ballona Estuary Toxics TMDL.

The workshop topics will include:

•Multi-pollutant and sustainable, green approach to water quality improvement and TMDL compliance

• Proposed distributed and regional projects for implementation in the Ballona Creek watershed

• Results of Toxicity Identification Evaluation special study

• Proposed strategy to address the specific requirements of the Ballona Estuary Toxics TMDL

In addition, Stormwater Program staff will present preliminary concepts of several stormwater projects identified in the Implementation Plans.

We look forward to meeting with you at this workshop!

When: September 21, 2010 from 10:00am to 11:30 am

Where: Hyperion Treatment Plant, Conference Room 116
12000 Vista Del Mar, Playa Del Rey, CA, 90293

For more information and to RSVP, please contact Ida Meisami at Ida.Meisami.Fard@lacity.org or (213) 485-3999 with your name and the names of any additional guests.

*Photo courtesy of Ballona News

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Sun Valley Stormwater Tour Wants You!

Want to check out some of the area’s most advanced stormwater projects?

This month you are invited to come out to Sun Valley where the City of LA Department of Public Works and the Prop O Citizens Advisory Committee will take you on a tour of three fantastic sites (Strathern Wetlands Park, the Sun Valley Multi-Use Facility and Elmer Avenue Green Street).

Please RSVP by September 10th. For more information, please email BPW.PAO@lacity.org, or call (213) 978-0333.

When: Sept. 15, Wednesday, 10 a.m.

Where: Sun Valley Recreation Center, 8133 Vineland Ave., Sun Valley

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Monthly Events: Kick-start Fall with a Little Community Building!

What better way to welcome the change in seasons than with a volunteer or community event this month? If you didn’t have a chance to lend a hand for the environment this past summer, it’s not too late to jump right in to help green L.A. this fall. And if you did volunteer, we’re sure you are all rested up and ready to go again! Here’s a taste of what’s in store for September!

>On Saturday, September 4th, come on out to Santa Monica where Surfrider will be hosting a beach clean up. Some fun in the sun is always great, just be sure to bring that sunscreen!

>Saturday, September 11th is packed full of green goodness. Two tree care projects spearheaded by TreePeople will be taking place in Altadena and El Monte. There will also be a fabulously fun Environmentalist rendezvous including a picnic and film in Pasadena.

>It’s not exactly a volunteer event, but that’s okay, it’s still great for the community. On Sunday, September 12th LA Streets Blog will be closing down streets in L.A. for a cool street fair. Bring bikes, skateboards or just your walking shoes. No cars allowed!

>Do you like the famous Santa Monica Pier? How about pets? Well, there will be a great pet festival hosted by Best Friends on Sunday, September 19th, at the Santa Monica Pier. The event is being held to help raise awareness for homeless pets in our area.

>On September 19th, there will also be a cool street tree care event in Mid City organized by TreePeople, that is sure to be a hit! You won't want to miss it.

>On Tuesday, September 21 the cities that make up the Ballona Creek watershed are holding a workshop with the City of L.A. at Hyperion Water Treatment to educate the public about cool stuff like water pollution and sustainable, green approaches to water quality improvements. You should come on out!

>Saturday, September 25 will be a fun one. It is Coastal Clean Up Day! Do you know what that means? Well, we’ll tell you. Heal the Bay will be coordinating over 50 cleanup locations throughout L.A. County! Yep, that’s a lot and there is sure to be one near you.

>Check out all of September’s events that aid stormwater by visiting our calendar at http://www.calendarwiz.com/calendars/calendar.php.

And if you have any upcoming events, please send them on over to us and we will be happy to include them in our community calendar.

*Photo courtesy of Heal the Bay

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Echo Park Lake Clean Up Hits the Airwaves

The City’s effort to clean up Echo Park Lake was covered by a local National Public Radio affiliate earlier this month. The City of Los Angeles is in the planning stages of rehabilitating the lake to address the trash and pollutants that have impaired this
water body. The lake, well-loved by the community, was last drained
and cleaned shortly before the 1984 Summer Olympics.

Currently stormwater drains directly into the lake, which eventually leads to the Los Angeles River. So a cleaner lake means a cleaner river, and ultimately a cleaner ocean. Public comments on how the City should best utilize Prop O funds to remediate the lake is fast approaching, so check out how you can chime in.

To listen to the segment online, please visit Southern California Public Radio’s home on the web. Also check out the great video clip below that depicts the historic Echo Park Lake throughout the years.

*Photo courtesy of LapPhoto1

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

State & County Move to Ban Single-Use Plastic Bags

Plastic bags do not biodegrade. That means if they are littered they can wash into the storm drain system and end up being dumped into our ocean waters.

There, plastic bags can become a problem for aquatic life for decades on end. Turtles and other creatures often mistake plastic bags for food, and birds and fish can get wrapped up in the bags causing death and severe injury.

In order to address the problem, Santa Monica State Assemblywoman Julia Brownley has proposed a bill (AB 1998) that would ban single-use bags at check-out stands at most stores in the state, including grocery, drug and other types of convenience stores.

On June 28, 2010 the California State Senate Environment Committee supported Sen. Brownley’s legislation, which makes the bill one step closer to becoming law, which Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger says he supports.

“I commend the Assembly for passing AB 1998, which would make California the first state in the nation to ban plastic bags,” said Governor Schwarzenegger. “This bill will be a great victory for our environment and I applaud Assemblywoman Brownley for working on this effort.”

More recently, in late July, Los Angeles County Supervisors also put forth their own proposal to ban single use plastic bags in LA County.

As such, plastic bags in our region may soon be checking-out for good.

How do you feel about banning single use plastic bags?

UPCOMING: This Sunday, August 22nd head on out to “Bag It! A Film Festival” at UCLA’s James Bridges Theater. Screenings will begin at 4pm and run until 7pm. You can RSVP by clicking here. And if you go, be sure to let us know what you thought of the film festival.

UPDATE: The Plastic Bag Ban bill (AB 1998) failed passage on August 31, 2010, stalling in the California State Senate with a 14-21 vote.

*Photo courtesy of the Sydney Morning Herald.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Los Angeles Stormwater E-Media Program Garners NACWA Award

The City of Los Angeles’ Stormwater Program is proud to be the recipient of a National Environmental Achievement Agency (NEAA) Award from the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), for outstanding achievement in the Stormwater E-Media Program. The prestigious NEAA Award recognizes Los Angeles’ E-Media Program for its innovation in educating and engaging residents and stakeholders through a multi-pronged approach that includes web sites, a Facebook page, an e-newsletter and blog.

Los Angeles’ Bureau of Sanitation’s Assistant Director Adel Hagekhalil was present at the July 20, 2010 evening award ceremony held in San Francisco, CA to receive the award. Recently, LA Stormwater sat down with Adel to ask him a few questions about the award, its significance to the City and future plans.

LA Stormwater: What do you see as the significance of LA Stormwater receiving this award?

Adel: NACWA’s Public Information & Education Awards honor agencies for inventive efforts to inform and involve their communities. Receiving this prestigious national award confirms that we at the Bureau of Sanitation are national leaders in our environmental programs providing first class service deserved by a first class city. We share this national award with our many clean water partners across the Country.

Since stormwater pollution is mainly incidental to poor human behavior, public outreach and education continue to be important tools in mitigating stormwater pollution. The NACWA award signifies and recognizes the City's effort on this matter, and the leadership role that the City is playing in this worthwhile endeavor.

LA Stormwater: Do you have experience with social media? How do you see it helping the City's efforts?

Yes, I use Facebook, Twitter, e-groups, etc. as part of my personal life and at work. Social media is today's way of communicating with a vast majority of the City population. Consequently, we at the Bureau are taking advantage of this communication tool to reach our targeted audiences. We believe that more City residents are relying on the internet to get their information. Most of our audiences are members of the younger generation who rely on social media and electronic communication tools. Furthermore, it is a very cost effective method in today's world where so much emphasis is placed on cost-conscious policies.

LA Stormwater: What other award winning projects caught your eye at the NACWA ceremony?

Adel: All of the awards were very innovative and creative, but two of the projects that caught my eye were:

- The Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District's Greenseams Video that uses real-life examples of green infrastructure to educate the public on cost-effective ways in which the utility is addressing the complex issues of water pollution, stormwater run-off, and flooding. This compelling educational tool uses vibrant photography and easy to understand storytelling to illustrate the natural, environmentally beneficial solutions that the Greenseams Program offers.

- The Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County's creative campaign entitled Wrongville/Rightville. This informative community outreach program utilized newspaper advertisements and posters to educate school children and the general public about the watersheds of Los Angeles County, and what they can do to keep them clean.

LA Stormwater: What does the future hold for the Los Angeles Stormwater's E-Media Program?

Adel: We are planning a complete redesign of our http://www.lastormwater.org/ web site in 2011. This web site was on the cutting edge of e-media when it was first developed 12 years ago in 1998. We are excited to utilize new technology to freshen up the site and create a resource that will continue to educate and inform the three million people that visit the site annually.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Monthly Events: End Summer in Style by Volunteering for Cleaner Water

Summer is coming to an end. Well almost, and if you haven’t had a chance to volunteer to improve our water quality by planting a tree or picking up trash, you still have plenty of time! This month is chock full of fun events and opportunities, so here’s a peek!

>On Tuesday, August 2nd head on over to Echo Park Library for a presentation on the lake’s rehab, hosted by the City of LA.

>If Tuesday is too busy, but Echo Park is a place you want to venture, check out an event hosted by the Echo Park Trash Abatement Project on Saturday, August 7th to pick up trash before it enters the storm drain.

>TreePeople is holding an event on August 11th and 12th at Pasadena’s Eaton Canyon Nature Center for a two-day environmental service learning workshop.

>The City of LA is having a volunteer event out in Wilmington on August 21st, which will be a morning full of satisfying work. On that same Saturday Heal the Bay will be hitting the sands of Pacific Palisades for a sure-to-be-fun beach clean-up.

>Your last chance to volunteer this month comes on August 28th as Friends of Ballona Creek will be in Playa del Rey for a wetlands restoration day. Volunteers are always welcome, so mark your calendars and make a commitment to do your part to better our environment.

>Check out all of August’s events that aid cleaner water by visiting our calendar at http://www.calendarwiz.com/lateameffort

And if you have any upcoming events, please send them on over to us, and we will be happy to include them in our community calendar.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Transforming F’s to A’s – One Beach at a Time

Ah, summertime. A season filled with warm balmy nights, backyard barbecues, Little League games, and weekend trips to the beach. Each of us has favorite summer memories, and I’d venture to guess that those recollections involve a beach, river or lake – we just naturally gravitate towards water during hot months. We’ve all enjoyed that morning bike ride along Santa Monica Bay, been mesmerized by the festive sights of Echo Park Lake’s Lotus Festival, watched the kids splash in the waves at Dockweiler Beach or explored Cabrillo’s tide pools.

So what better way to say thank you to the places that have been so memorable than by creating a new summer tradition that gives back. Make the pledge, like some Sanitation employees already have, to participate in one clean-up event this summer to keep those special places clean for generations to come. It’s easy to do. There are clean-up events happening year round here in Southern California. A few hours of your time can make a positive impact on those beaches, lakes and rivers we love.

In this issue of LA Stormwater, we focus on the beaches that are so much a part of LA life this time of year. Just before Memorial Day, Heal the Bay published its annual Beach Report Card. Everyone agrees that while beach conditions are steadily improving, we still have a lot of work to do. I’m pleased to announce that this summer 71% of Los Angeles County beaches received an A grade in summer 2009. That’s a 26% jump from 2005 when only 46% of county beaches garnered the top grade.

As a part-time college professor, I know how much hard work goes into pulling up a grade. As the City’s Stormwater Program Manager, I see the tireless work that the City’s team puts into developing projects that transform beaches. One especially noteworthy project is the low-flow diversion program. Every summer day, 23 low-flow diversions along the Santa Monica Bay coastline redirect hundreds of thousands of gallons of polluted urban runoff into our sanitary sewer system for treatment. We are tackling next the pollution that flows to Santa Monica Bay during the winter months. Recent Proposition O-funded upgrades will make for eight City-owned low-flow diversions that will redirect contaminated urban runoff during dry winter days improving water quality year round.

So this summer, get out there and enjoy LA’s beautiful beaches! Because of our team work, our beaches are cleaner than they’ve been in a generation. And, with your ongoing support, our beaches will continue to improve for generations to come.

Best Regards,

Shahram Kharaghani, Stormwater Program Manager

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Win Two FREE Tickets to Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach!

Subscribe to the LA Stormwater YouTube channel and post "I love clean water" in the channel comments section from now until August 16th, 2010 and you will be entered to win 2 FREE tickets to the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach!

Big thanks to the Aquarium of the Pacific's sustainable seafood initiative - Seafood for the Future - for donating the tickets!

Winner will be announced on August 17th in LA Stormwater's channel comments section, so make sure to check back on that date.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Coast is Clear(er)

We live in an age where cutting edge technology is everywhere, making our lives and its related challenges easier to solve. Often times we aren’t aware or able to understand the technology that makes our lives easier. It just happens in the background, without us knowing. We simply reap the benefits.

And so it is in our ongoing fight to combat ocean pollution. On any given summer day here in Los Angeles more than 100 million gallons of polluted urban runoff flow untreated to Santa Monica and San Pedro Bays. To put this amount into perspective, 100 million gallons is enough water to fill the Rose Bowl to the brim. This flow easily increases to one billion gallons during a normal storm event.

Unbeknownst to many Angelenos, the City of Los Angeles has been employing state-of-the-art technology all along Pacific Coast Highway to address the urban runoff issue plaguing Southland beaches. This technology comes in the form of low flow diversion (LFD) projects. Here’s the gist: during low rainfall periods (like summer months) water still flows through the storm drain system. This water ends of flowing to the ocean. However, when this water hits LFD installations bacteria and other pollutants get removed.

Since the late 1990s, 23 LFDs have been operating under the ground and under the radar to improve Santa Monica Bay’s (SMB) water quality. They are the unsung heroes of the ongoing urban runoff pollution challenge, working tirelessly during the summer months when the level of polluted flow is relatively low, to improve water quality at LA beaches. Behind the scenes, these low flow diversions quietly re-direct polluted storm water runoff from our storm drains into our sanitary sewer system, keeping the pollution from ever reaching beaches. Once in LA’s sewer system, the polluted runoff flows to the Hyperion Wastewater Treatment Plant where it is treated before being discharged into the bay. In fact, these low flow diversions have been so instrumental in improving water quality that Heal the Bay noted in their 2007 Beach Report that LFD projects resulted in long stretches of beaches in our area receiving consistently good grades. This recognition was a first in Heal the Bay’s history.

However, like everything in this tech age, there’s always room for an upgrade and the LFDs are no different. The City is taking advantage of funding available from Proposition O, the Clean Water Bond passed in 2004, to improve eight City-owned and operated low flow diversions to be able to re-route polluted storm water flow to sanitary sewers for treatment year round during dry weather. These upgrades have been in progress since October of 2009. Several of which will be completed later this summer with the remaining LFD upgrades to be complete and operational by fall 2010.

These improvements will translate into increased capacity and system reliability that means we can prevent any kind of polluted dry-weather flow, summer or winter, from flowing to the ocean making life in and around Santa Monica Bay life a little easier and our coast a little clearer.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Kids Ocean Day Through the Eyes of a Teacher

Hi there, I’m Natalie Guerboian, Special Education teacher here at Newcastle Elementary school, which participated in Kids Ocean Day 2010. It was a first time experience for me and my students, as I am a first year teacher. It was something special to see thousands of students coming together to help keep our oceans clean.

A few of my students were amazed to see the amount of trash left behind and washed up on the beach. They really enjoyed picking up the trash and having an impact on cleaning up a small part of our coastline. The experience of cleaning the beach taught them why it is important to recycle and throw away trash. I enjoyed watching their debates and reasoning as to why one item should or should not be recycled.

As one of my students said, “Ms. Guerboian, why is it so hard for people to just throw their trash in the trash cans?” It is so true. There is trash and recycling bins conveniently available for us, therefore there is no excuse for not properly dispensing trash.

I would like to see beach clean-ups take place more often, but that doesn’t mean we should only clean on “clean-up” days. My students and I witnessed how simple it is to clean up a beach. All you need is a garbage bag! We shouldn’t have to wait to be told to clean up; we should just do it ourselves.

When kids participate in these hands-on events, I feel it gives them a firsthand experience and a positive influence. In addition, they have a sense of accomplishment where they can say, “Hey, I’ve just saved a dolphin’s life by recycling that coke can”. My students and the rest of the millions of children out there are our future. They need to be aware about the effects of marine debris on animals. They need to utilize the three R’s (reduce, reuse, recycle) in their everyday life.

This planet is our home and it is our responsibility to maintain its beauty and care for it on a daily basis.

Natalie Guerboian is a first-year special education teacher at Newcastle Elementary School. Her classroom was one of the hundreds of such that participated in Kids Ocean Day, bringing the total number of students who attended the annual clean-up event at close to 4,000. Below you can see a video of Natalie talking about her and her students' experience.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Great L.A. River Cleanup: An Interview with Sofia Mohaghegh

In May 2010 Sofia Mohaghegh, an Environmental Engineering Associate II with the City of Los Angeles' Watershed Protection Division volunteered with other City Sanitation employees during La Gran Limpieza (or the Great Clean-Up) an annual spring Los Angeles River clean-up event organized by Friends of the Los Angeles River. Sofia recently answered a few questions about the event and the day's enviro-happenings.

City of Los Angeles: Was this your first clean-up event or do you regularly volunteer at these types of events?

Sofia Mohaghegh: I have been participating in clean-up events since I was in college, and I carried the habit with me from then on. It's just a great way to invest yourself in the community. I've attended Coastal Cleanup Day at a different site every year since 2005, and also a few other events that occur sporadically at different times throughout the year.

City of Los Angeles: What is your motivation for participating in this type of event?

Sofia Mohaghegh: I want to do my part to help clean up our waterbodies, especially since it is related to my day job. I want to see how well we're doing and if our projects are working. I also live in LA near the LA River and bike there sometimes, so I want to be proud of my river and be able to enjoy it for what it should be - a river and not a dump site!

City of Los Angeles: Was there anything that struck you about La Gran Limpieza?

Sofia Mohaghegh: This was the first time I attended La Gran Limpieza, and I was really impressed by the work ethic of the people that attended. Everyone got right to work and really did a good job cleaning our section of the river. All that hard work and no pay - you've got to admire those people that are dedicated to improving their community!

City of Los Angeles: Approximately, how many people attended? What types of trash did you pick up?

Sofia Mohaghegh: There were probably around 50 people (best guess by looking around, not an official count) at the Los Feliz Blvd site. The number one item collected at the event was plastic bags. We've got to do something about those plastic bags. There were also some remnants of abandoned homeless encampments that needed to be cleaned up.

City of Los Angeles: Are there any other events that you're planning on volunteering for?

Sofia Mohaghegh: I am planning to attend a beach cleanup at Dockweiler with the Sierra Club and Heal the Bay in July. And of course, I will be doing Coastal Cleanup Day in September!

City of Los Angeles: What would you say to encourage people who are considering volunteering
at an event like this?

Sofia Mohaghegh: Don't consider it - Do it! It's hard work, but a lot of fun, and you'll meet other people who are friendly and as caring about the environment as you are!

Sofia Mohagheh is an Environmental Engineering Associate who has been with the City of Los Angeles for five years. She works on projects related to reducing pollutants in LA's regional waterways. When she's not working to improve the quality of water in LA's rivers and lakes, she leads hikes for the Sierra Club and gives art tours for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

The LA River was recently designated as navigable, read more about how this will impact the river.

*Photo courtesy of Tenky on Flickr.com

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Consideration of LID Ordinance at Energy & Environment Council Committee

Due to a scheduling conflict, the proposed Low Impact Development (LID) Ordinance will not be considered by the Energy and Environment Council Committee at their July 20, 2010 meeting. The Committee will schedule the LID Ordinance for a future meeting once the City Council returns in September from their recess.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused and will continue to notify you as early as possible about upcoming LID Ordinance related meetings.

For the latest information on the LID Ordinance and a copy of the latest draft of the proposed ordinance, please visit our LA Stormwater LID Page.

Best Regards,

Shahram Kharaghani
L.A. Stormwater Program Manager

New Bacteria Limits Set for LA River

On July 9, 2010, The Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board (LARWQCB) held a hearing in Glendale to decide the Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) for bacteria in the LA River.

TMDLs establish the maximum amount of pollutants that are allowed to enter a particular water body in order to comply with federal water quality standards. LARWQCB approved a new bacteria TMDL for the LA River during dry weather seasons over the next 25 years in order to meet already established goals.
The adoption of new TMDL standards came after a two-year long stakeholder process called Cleaner Rivers Through Effective Stakeholder-led TMDLs (CREST). The City of Los Angeles spearheaded the group’s discussions.

“This was the first TMDL adopted AFTER completion of significant scientific study, with detailed assessment of implementation strategies to meet the waste load allocation, and their costs,” said Catherine Tyrrell of Malcolm Pirnie, one of several individuals on the CREST consultant team.

This fix will help to keep dangerous strains of bacteria like E. coli from entering the stormwater system and then entering the LA River where it is dumped into waters off of Long Beach. Such pollutants can harm human and aquatic life.

Inland cities will have to comply with the standards by adopting a number of different techniques from best management practices to treatment facility construction.

*Photo courtesy of LAist.com

Friday, July 9, 2010

L.A. River to Receive Protections under the Clean Water Act

This past week a big change occurred in how the Federal government views the L.A. River. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson visited Southern California and announced that the river would be designated as 'traditional navigable waters'. That may not mean much on its surface, but it certainly means a lot for those that want to see the river repaired.

"We're moving away from the concrete," Jackson told more than 200 residents and government officials as she stood next to Compton Creek, one of the LA River’s main tributaries, and one that has been marred by chronic pollution. “We want the L.A. River to demonstrate how urban waterways across the country can serve as assets in building stronger neighborhoods, attracting new businesses and creating new jobs."

Check out when Lisa Jackson announced the great news (footage courtesy of Creek Freak’s Joe Linton).

With the ‘navigable’ designation, the L.A. River will now receive protections under the Clean Water Act, which the community hopes will be a step toward cleaning up the watershed. Ultimately the goal will be to make the river safe for humans and for wildlife.

The Los Angeles Times explained its significance:

“Protection under the Clean Water Act sets the stage for a multitude of ambitious plans, including removing the concrete liners and using modern technology to provide both flood protection and natural habitat that can attract wildlife and encourage human recreation. Plans to create badly needed parks and green spaces along the river — which also would attract new shopping and other commerce — would receive priority consideration. Proposed developments near the headwaters in the San Fernando Valley and along tributaries could neither pollute the river nor bury or harm its tributaries.”

Check out Creek Freak’s five part series on significance of navigability in our local waterways.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Monthly Events: Sunshine and Volunteering: A Recipe for a Great July

Summer is in full swing here in Southern California. This month is packed full of great events and volunteer opportunities, so pick a weekend to check out a local eco event or donate a few hours of your time to a good green cause!

>On Saturday, July 10th there are a number of events to choose from. Check out the Eco Fest in Venice, the Lotus Festival in Echo Park or hop on over to Topanga Canyon for a creek side tree planting. You might want to check out the Green Expo, hosted by The Metropolitan Water District, where 40 environmental exhibits will be ready for the browsing. You could also put on your boots and help Santa Monica Baykeeper restore Stone Canyon Creek near UCLA.

>If Saturday is too busy, come out on Sunday, July 11th where Surfrider is putting on an event in Los Angeles in conjunction with Green Garden Group in a hands-on workshop about landscaping and water use.

>Want to share your gardening expertise? Help maintain trees that were planted by TreePeople and volunteers two years ago in San Pedro on Tuesday, July 13th.

>Saturday, July 17th is another busy day for nature lovers. Prune some fruit trees in Sylmar or chip in for some hearty mountain restoration in Calabasas. Or come out to Venice and join Heal the Bay in saying no to trash by picking up litter to ensure that sand is the only thing gracing the beach.

>If you are a fan of clean streets and are looking to volunteer a couple of hours, you may want to mark off Sunday, July 18th on your calendar and head to Highland Park to weed, mulch and trim street trees in the area.

>If your weekends are too full come out on Thursday, July 22nd, where TreePeople will be at it again in Coldwater Canyon Park in the late morning for a cool park project.

>Help the City reach the goal of the one million trees planted inPalms on July 24th. Friends of Ballona Wetlands will also be tackling a restoration project in Playa Del Ray.

>Or how about checking out a Farm Work Day in Los Angeles on Monday July 26th, to help maintain the Normandie Ave Elementary School’s and John Muir Middle School’s learning gardens?

>Lastly, if you can’t squeeze out any time earlier in the month, your last chance comes on July 31st, where you help TreePeople take care of some new trees in Studio City.

Check out all of the month’s events that aid stormwater by visiting our calendar at http://www.calendarwiz.com/calendars/calendar.php

And if you have any upcoming events (volunteer or otherwise), please send them on over to us and we’d be happy to include them in our community calendar!

*Photo courtesy of beach.freedomblogging.com

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Low Impact Development (LID) Ordinance and Handbook Update

Legislative action, meetings, committees selected - we have a lot to update you on regarding the City of Los Angeles Low Impact Development Ordinance and its related handbook. Here is what's going on:

Mayor's Office Completes Review of LID Ordinance

We're pleased to report that the Mayor's office has completed its review of the proposed Low Impact Development (LID) Ordinance and has forwarded it onto the Los Angeles City Council for their review. The first Council committee reviewing the proposed ordinance will be the Energy and Environment Council Committee, possibly in the later part of July. We'll notify you when the date of the hearing has been announced. This is another major milestone reached on the path towards enacting Los Angeles Low Impact Development legislation.

Kick-Off Meeting gets LID Handbook Project off on the Right Foot

On Thursday, May 20th, 55 contractors, consultants, officials, non-profits and active residents came out to the LA River Center for an informational and impassioned kick off-meeting for the LID Handbook Project. Several presentations from City representatives as well as an involved Q & A session comprised the launch meeting for the Handbook Project.

Vik Bapna of California Watershed Engineering stated "As a whole, I think the meeting went pretty well. We've got a lot of people here with a significant amount of experience in a lot of different arenas. I think that we're going to be able to put together something that gets LID in Los Angeles off on the right foot."

LID Handbook Committee Begins Working

On June 29, the LID Handbook Technical Partners committee met to begin writing the manual that will accompany the LID Ordinance. Representatives from the City of Los Angeles, environmental organizations, the building industry and engineering firms were in attendance. In the meeting, committee members reviewed a proposed table of contents for the draft LID Handbook, reviewed the proposed timeline and divided themselves into two sub-committees to address the individual requirements of smaller residential developments and larger residential and commercial developments.

It's our goal to send regular updates via e-blasts regarding the Low Impact Development ordinance and related handbook project so stay tuned!

Thank you,

Shahram Kharaghani
L.A. Stormwater Program Manager

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

5 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Venice Beach

We all know that Venice Beach is a funky sort of renaissance amusement park along the beach in West Los Angeles. The boardwalk is known for its eclectic street vendors, artists, musicians, muscles and some of the best surf in LA County. But did you know the following about one of our favorite summer spots?

* Venice (formerly Venice America) was founded as a beach resort by tobacco millionaire Abbot Kinney in 1905.

* Venice Beach has been the location of over sixty movie sets, dating back all the way to 1915.

* Over 450 oil wells used to operate in Venice, with the first oil derricks constructed in the 1920s. Oil was pumped in Venice until the 1970s.

* Venice Beach is the second most popular tourist destination in Southern California, only trailing Disneyland. An estimated 150,000 tourists walk the boardwalk every weekend. That's almost 8 million annual weekend tourists alone!

* According to Heal the Bay, Venice Beach has an A+ water quality grade at all four locations where samples are taken.

The beach is closed from 10:30pm to 5:00am. When the boardwalk is open, bring along the entire family as there is sure to be something entertaining for everyone: rent bikes, surf, play volleyball, paddle ball, basketball or simply just stroll around and enjoy the sunshine and the entertaining street vendors.

Please feel free to share your Venice Beach experiences with us and post pictures of your fondest memories.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Take the Pet Pledge and Win a $25 Gift Card!

Are you on Facebook? Well the LA Stormwater Program sure is!

Join our Facebook page and post "I pick up after (enter your dog's name here)" on our wall from now until June 30th and you will be entered into our drawing to win a free $25 Gift Card donated by Modern Dog!

Winner will be announced July 1st.

Find out all the hip pet news in our latest pet email newsletter.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Why Ocean Day Matters

The LA Stormwater Program attended the 17th Annual Kids Ocean Day with thousands of local students to help reduce and prevent coastal pollution in Los Angeles. Listen to a few City staffers, kids and a teacher talk about the importance of the event and why the City was so excited to take part in the day’s clean up event at Dockweiler Beach.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Monthly Events: Start the Summer off Right and Volunteer for a Cleaner LA

The year is half over, have you volunteered yet? Well, if you have, thank you. If you haven’t yet had a chance, let June be your month! For more info on the following events, including time and location, please visit the embedded links or check out our calendar.

>Come out on Saturday, June 5th and help the Echo Park Trash Abatement Project clean up litter along Sunset Blvd. Tree People will also be at it in Topanga Canyon planting trees.

>On Sunday, June 6th join hundreds of residents in celebration of 10 years of Riding the River. The day of family events will support the cleaning up and revitalization of the LA River!

>Tree People will be busy on June 12th in Harbor City and out in Sun Valley planting 1 million trees! Join the effort to make LA a greener, more tree happy place to live.

>If the first part of the month doesn’t work for you, there are plenty of events in the latter part of June that might be a good fit! On June 19th Tree People needs your help cleaning up the beach in Playa Del Rey and planting trees in South LA on the 26th.

>Tree planting isn’t your cup of tea? How about surfing? If so, surfers are uniting on June 20th in Santa Monica to cheer on International Surfing Day. Surfrider will be on hand promoting awareness for the sustainability of our ocean resources. Cowabunga!

>If your weekends are packed, there is also a volunteer event on Thursday, June 24th in Coldwater Canyon. Tree People supporters will be amassing to support Park Work Day by cleaning up a popular park in the area.

Please consider volunteering! A few hours of your time can make a great impact on the city we love.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

5,000 Los Angeles Kids Cleanup Dockweiler State Beach, Form Human Mosaic Calling to "Sustain Life"

PLAYA DEL REY, CA—Confirming their commitment to protecting marine life, 5,000 area students and their teachers participated at the Adopt-A-Beach Cleanup and formed an aerial artwork in celebration of Kids Ocean Day. The event was hosted by the Malibu Foundation for Environmental Education, the California Coastal Commission, the City of Los Angeles, Keep Los Angeles Beautiful, and Whole Foods Market.

The day’s activities began with a program kick-off involving dignitaries, including: Michael Klubock of the Malibu Foundation for Environmental Education; Sara Wan of the California Coastal Commission; Cynthia M. Ruiz of the City of Los Angeles Board of Public Works and Keep Los Angeles Beautiful; City of Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation Director Enrique Zaldivar; Whole Foods Market marketing supervisor Lena Pereira; and actress and environmentalist Wendie Malick (Just Shoot Me!, Fraiser, Baywatch). Students picked up trash at the beach, and capped the day by forming a human mosaic that depicted the ocean and spelled “Sustain Life.” The message highlighted the connection between the health of oceans and human life, and also reflected the United Nations’ Millenium Development Goal to ensure environmental sustainability.

"The vitality of Los Angeles and the rest of our planet depends on the health of the ocean for the oxygen we breathe, the food that we eat, and a livable climate," said Cynthia M. Ruiz, president of the Board of Public Works and chairman of Keep Los Angeles Beautiful. "Los Angeles kids understand the environmental and moral responsibility of caring for the ocean to which we are all connected, no matter how far inland we are. Let us follow their example and be active stewards of the ocean and the environment by starting in our own neighborhoods."

Kids Ocean Day is celebrated at six other locations along the California coast, extending from Humboldt County to San Diego. The event honors World Ocean Day that will be celebrated globally on June 8.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

LA’s Efforts to Transform Water Quality at Three Heal the Bay F-Grade Beaches

Today the local environmental group Heal the Bay issued its annual beach report card in time for the start of the summer beach season, providing beach goers with important water quality information. Without fail, over the last few years, Santa Ynez Beach, Castle Rock Beach and Inner Cabrillo Beach have received poor grades when it comes to their water quality.

That is about to change.

Working with regional partners including the County of Los Angeles, the Cities of El Segundo and Santa Monica and environmental groups such as Heal the Bay, the City of Los Angeles has built various structural best management practices at each of these locations to significantly improve their water quality.

There are currently 23 low-flow diversions, or structures that divert dry-weather polluted urban runoff from storm drains to the sanitary sewer system, dotting the Santa Monica Bay coastline. Using funds from Proposition O, the water quality bond measure passed in 2004, Los Angeles is in the process of upgrading eight of these diversions to handle dry weather flow year round. The upgrade of these low-flow diversions has the added benefit of ensuring the City’s compliance with federal water quality mandates related to dry weather flow. Other locations along Santa Monica Bay, most notably, Castlerock and Santa Ynez Canyon, whose low-flow diversions are owned and operated by the County of Los Angeles, have experienced recent maintenance issues. The City has been working closely with the County to resolve those challenges.

Inner Cabrillo Beach has been a bigger challenge and while the City hasn’t achieved full compliance with water quality mandates for this location yet, it is dedicated to reaching that goal. The City of Los Angeles has spent $20 million over the last seven years in projects ranging from public outreach to repairing sewer lines to the replacement of sand to improve water quality at this popular beach. Currently, the Los Angeles Harbor Department is preparing to construct a bird exclusion structure that will be completed for the 2010 summer season. Ongoing monitoring efforts are planned to determine the success of this latest water quality improvement project.

“We recognize that these three beaches have been problematic in years past but we are committed to working with our community partners to find solutions that will improve the quality of water in our rivers, lakes and beaches,” stated Enrique Zaldivar, Director of the Bureau of Sanitation. “Clean water in Los Angeles is a team effort,” continued Zaldivar.

For more information about the City’s Watershed Protection Program, please visit LAStormwater.org and join us at facebook.com/lastormwaterprogram.