May 5, 2011 Vol. 1, No. 2
The Stormwater Report is a monthly e-newsletter that highlights advanced practices, cutting-edge research, policy updates, and current events pertaining to stormwater. Look for The Stormwater Report on the first Thursday of every month.
Los Angeles Comes Together on Common Ground
Four years ago, Commissioner Paula Daniels of the Los Angeles Board of Public Works assembled an interdepartmental team called the Green Streets Committee. The goal was to increase stormwater infiltration in order to improve water quality and simultaneously enhance groundwater recharge within the Los Angeles Basin.
While each public works bureau has different objectives to meet, such as construction, sanitation, maintenance, and stormwater management, “many of them come together around streets,” Daniels said.
By focusing on Los Angeles’ streets and sidewalks, the committee generated ideas that evolved into low-impact development (LID) pilot projects, and eventually into the city’s recently passed ordinance, which calls for LID elements in all new commercial construction and redevelopment. Even single-family residences larger than 46 m2 (500 ft2) will include new components for capturing stormwater.
As part of this initiative, Los Angeles is the first in the nation to create pre-approved standard LID development plans, of which the city now has six. The city also has created an LID manual called the Best Management Practices Handbook. “We are providing developers with more and more tools to make implementing LID easy,” Daniels said.
For most of the 20th century, Los Angeles considered stormwater a flooding risk, so the city was designed to rapidly convey stormwater to the ocean, explained Daniels. In contrast, LID treats stormwater onsite by allowing water to filter into the soil. Although retrofits can be costly, implementing LID for new construction and redevelopment simply provides a new direction for developers, said Daniels.
“We now want to capture, retain, and reuse stormwater by weaving the texture of nature into the urban fabric,” she said.
Daniels said the city’s pilot projects were a key to rallying support from stakeholders. The projects — which include three residential retrofits with LID elements such as bioswales, rain barrels, pervious pavement, and drought-tolerant landscaping — exemplify the many benefits of LID and gave city staff implementation experience.
Projections from these pilots showed that converting all public property in the area to LID standards would allow Los Angeles to meet 40% of its regulatory requirements to clean polluted runoff. In addition, through groundwater capture, the city could save 50 million to 102 million m3 (41,000 to 83,000 ac-ft) of water that otherwise would be imported from northern California.
To learn more about LID in Los Angeles, check out the technical session “Green L.A. Stormwater Infrastructure” at WEFTEC® 2011, which will be held in Los Angeles Oct. 15–19.
For more information, contact
Robert Vega (Robert.Vega@lacity.org),
Shahram Kharagani (Shahram.Kharagani@lacity.org),
or Michael Scaduto (Michael.Scaduto@lacity.org).
Collection Systems 2011: Rehab or Roulette: Is Our Environment at Risk?
Raleigh Convention Center
Stormwater Utility Seminar
Hyatt Regency McCormick Place, Chicago
Member Association Events
Chesapeake Water Environment Association
“Meeting the Challenge of Achieving Bay Area Stormwater Requirements”
Linthicum Heights, MD
Ohio Water Environment Association
SW Green Infrastructure Tour
Oakley Square, Cincinnati
Mississippi Water Environment Association Annual Conference
Vicksburg Convention Center
Vicksburg, Miss. Stormwater programming on each day of technical sessions
Michigan Water Environment Association Annual Conference
Shanty Creek Resort
Watershed Management (Session 4) 8:30 a.m.–12 p.m. on June 28
Stormwater Track Added to WEFTEC 2011 Technical Program
Technical sessions and exhibitor information are now available for the Water Environment Federation’s Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC®) 2011. Visit My WEFTEC Planner to begin scheduling your WEFTEC experience, or find stormwater specific programming here.
U.S. EPA Releases Updated Strategy on Green Infrastructure
In early April, the Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) partnered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to identify barriers and solutions to implementing green infrastructure. WEF will continue working in partnership with the agency on its Green Infrastructure Strategic Agenda and community partnership effort, which was announced April 29. So far, EPA has selected 10 municipalities to showcase green infrastructure benefits and work out implementation details. These cities include: Austin, Texas; Boston; Cleveland, Ohio; Denver; Jacksonville, Fla.; Kansas City, Mo.; Los Angeles; Puyallup, Wash.; Syracuse, N.Y.; and Washington, D.C. and neighboring Anacostia Watershed communities. Read more in EPA’s memo supporting green infrastructure.
Administration Releases Guidance Document on U.S. Waters
The Obama administration recently released a national clean water framework to outline responsibilities of several agencies in protecting U.S. waters. It includes a guidance document drafted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers defining which U.S. waterbodies are subject to Clean Water Act regulations. The Water Environment Federation initiated a conference call and other professional associations and EPA during which the agency reiterated that comments are needed to improve the guidance document and proposed rule-making. The guidance document will soon appear in the Federal Register for a 60-day public comment period. See the April 29 issue of This Week in Washington for more information.
U.S. EPA Proposes New Construction General Permit
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released a draft Construction General Permit (CGP), which regulates stormwater discharges from construction sites. This is a modified version of the 2008 CGP that contains more provisions for protecting water quality. The new CGP would require all construction sites to implement management practices that prevent pollution and erosion by stabilizing sediment. For larger construction sites, it would impose a recalculated numeric turbidity limit and require compliance monitoring. The Water Environment Federation will be submitting comments to EPA, which are due by June 24. See the Federal Register as well as the April 29 and April 15 issues of This Week in Washington for more information.
U.S. EPA Requests Comments on Healthy Watersheds Document
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Healthy Watersheds Initiative is a proactive, systems approach to protecting unimpaired U.S. waters. In shaping this initiative, the agency is looking for comments on a draft version of Identifying and Protecting Healthy Watersheds: Concepts, Assessments, and Management Approaches. This document provides “an assessment framework for identifying healthy watersheds, examples of management approaches, sources of national data, and key assessment tools.” The Water Environment Federation will submit comments through its Watershed Management Committee. Comments are due by June 3, and the final document is scheduled for release in October.
WERF and NFWF Partner To Reduce Stormwater Pollution in the Chesapeake Bay
The Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF; Alexandria, Va.) has partnered with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) to reduce sediment and nutrient delivery to the Chesapeake Bay. With a 6-year grant from the NFWF, WERF will coordinate studies on nutrient and sediment reduction, program management, source controls, monitoring, and receiving water effects. This will compliment WERF’s ongoing research on stormwater best management practices, and the partnership will utilize WERF’s International Stormwater BMP Database. In addition, WERF will organize a stormwater symposium in 2011 to highlight case studies. Check here for more information.
Concens About PAH Contamination Could Lead To Sealant Ban
On April 14, the Water Environment Federation co-sponsored a Capitol Hill briefing on U.S. Geological Survey studies about polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) from pavement sealcoat. Stormwater washes these PAHs into lakes and streams, where they can pose risks to humans and wildlife. In response to these and similar studies, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and localities are considering tar sealant bans to limit water contamination with PAHs. Some cities, such as Washington, D.C., and Austin, Texas, already have banned the sealant. See the April 15 issue of This Week in Washington for more information.
Sen. Cardin Introduces Legislation to Reduce Roadway Runoff
Sen. Cardin (D-Md.) will today reintroduce legislation aimed at reducing runoff from highways and roads. The goal of the bill—the Safe Treatment of Polluted Stormwater Runoff (STOPS Runoff) Act—is to decrease water pollution resulting from roadways, which includes contaminants like brake dust, oil, road salts, heavy metals and more. STOPS Runoff would require federally funded highway and road projects—new and rehabilitated—disturbing five or more acres to meet performance-based standards for preventing runoff. The bill encourages stormwater mitigation through preservation of natural landscapes. The Water Environment Federation worked with Cardin on this legislation and will be crafting a letter of support.
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