Dry weather diversions – memories up a sh*t’s creek

December 29, 2021 § 3 Comments

Yesterday’s post hurt my brain to write, and it hurts my brain a little to re-read. OK, it hurts my brain a lot. So I suspect it’s not fun for anyone else either. I wish it could be more straightforward.

And then I woke up this morning realizing I wasn’t done with the subject yet. Ugh.

So if this issue of buried streams in the crossfire of clean water regulations and local governments liable for compliance is pertinent to you, bear with me. If you live in a park poor area with buried streams (Angelenos, that’s basically you), it’s pertinent.

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A message from Heal the Bay

April 26, 2012 § 1 Comment

We received – and are forwarding –  an announcement by our friends at the Heal the Bay.  The following piece is from Kirsten James, HTB’s Water Quality Director.

The federal Clean Water Act turns 40 this year. Water quality has come a long way since 1972 but we’ve still got a lot of work to do to ensure that our waters remain safe and healthy. Our nation’s rivers are no longer catching on fire (e.g. the Cuyahoga River, circa 1969) but the battle for our creaks and rivers in Los Angeles rages on.

One of the pillars of the CWA is the stormwater permitting program. Municipal stormwater permits regulate all urban runoff discharge from separate storm sewer systems, so-called MS4s. Because stormwater is the No. 1 source of coastal pollution in California, these permits are a big deal for ensuring public health for those who recreate in our local waters. It’s also a major part of my job – ensuring that water quality regulations are as protective as they can be. And now ocean lovers have a major fight on their hands in Los Angeles County.

In 2001, the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board adopted a municipal stormwater permit for Los Angeles County. The Regional Board is now considering a new permit for the county, after years of delay. As the board begins making critical decisions regarding the new permit, Heal the Bay is concerned about lobbying interests looking to weaken existing protections.

Board hearings over the summer will determine the fate of our local water quality for the next decade or more. We are at a fork in the road in terms of local water quality, with many cities and dischargers fighting hard to relax hard-won regulations that prevent them from dumping pollution into our waterways.

Our Regional Board can do the right thing and place strong protections (including pollution limits or TMDLs and low impact development requirements) in the permit. Or, they can make decisions that could result in dirtier water, and a higher risk of getting sick anytime you swim or surf. Heal the Bay will do everything we can to ensure that they make the right choice. We hope you will join us in the fight!

If you care about protecting the ocean and public health, we need you to make your voice heard. We need beachgoers of all stripes to attend a Regional Board workshop on May 3 designed to gather community input about local water quality regulations.

To fight for clean rivers, beaches and oceans, join our campaign: Taking L.A. by Storm (download flyer).

Attend the May 3 Regional Board workshop, the first of the hearings this summer, and let them know you want to be able safely swim at our beaches or fish in our rivers. Please help protect what you love.

To join us, RSVP with your name, email and ZIP Code.

Congratulations: River Expeditions, Elmer Avenue, and more!

November 18, 2010 § Leave a comment

Recent recognition for some of Los Angeles’ creek freak heroes:

Click to go to the L.A. River Expeditions website where you can sign up for future expeditions

> The American Canoe Association (ACA) has awarded its annual Green Paddle Award to George Wolfe and L.A. River Expeditions. George was the leader of the 2008 boating expedition down the Los Angeles River that proved critical in securing federal Clean Water Act protections.  The national non-profit ACA in its press release stated:

“The American Canoe Association is extremely proud to recognize George and L.A. River Expeditions for their significant accomplishments,” says ACA Chief Operating Officer Chris Stec. “They have set a great example for the nation.”

Elmer Avenue Project - photo by LASGRWC

> The California Stormwater Quality Association (CASQA) presented its Outstanding Stormwater BMP [Best Management Practice] Implementation Project award to the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers Watershed Council for its Elmer Avenue Neighborhood Retrofit Demonstration project. Elmer Avenue is an excellent project – the kind that we creek freaks like to go and visit in the rain!! CASQA also recognized Santa Monica’s Bicknell Avenue green street, the city of Los Angeles’ Stormwater Public Education Program (which also received recognition from the National Association of Clean Water Agencies), and others. Read the full CASQA awards recap here.

Congratulations to George, the Watershed Council, and the cities of Santa Monica and Los Angeles!

Stormwater Harvesting Roundup

November 11, 2008 § 1 Comment

Here are three recent items for folks interested in harvesting rainwater:

>>Today, UC Riverside researchers released a report entitled Capturing Urban Stormwater Runoff: A Decentralized Market-Based Alternative. It shows that decentralized stormwater interventions can be cheaper and more effective than centralized ones. Here’s their press release or download the full 16-page report (PDF) here. From the press release: the cost of building and maintaining these smaller, decentralized devices in urban areas could be 30 percent to 50 percent cheaper than constructing and operating large, centralized stormwater facilities. They also found that the value of the water that could be captured and used to recharge aquifers could amount to 38 percent of the cost of the smaller devices.

>>Via Boing Boing and my friend/neighbor/conspirator Federico: Take a look at this photo showing a beautiful artistic water harvesting system from Kunsthofpassage in Dresden, Germany!

View of Grassy Swale at Broadous School (from TreePeople's report)

View of Grassy Swale at Broadous School (from TreePeople Rainwater as a Resource report)

>>Last year, TreePeople released a report entitled Rainwater as a Resource: A Report on Three Sites Demonstrating Sustainable Stormwater Management. The report, available at TreePeople’s website, details three innovative green watershed management projects: Hall House, Broadous Elementary School, and Open Charter Magnet Elementary School. The report tells the stories behind these projects – site selection, design processes, costs, maintenance, quantification of various benefits from water quality to air quality to flood prevention, and more. The reports tell the stories warts and all! TreePeople has made some interesting mistakes learning opportunities… which should be expected when folks push boundaries with ambitious projects. The report presents plenty of lessons learned and important recommendations for similar projects in the future. Also included are some serious appendices with as-built plans, and details regarding maintenance and inspection.

From TreePeople’s Rainwater as Resource report:

Challenge: In the absence of a written maintenance agreement for the Broadous project, partners whose contractual obligations ended when construction did nevertheless found themselves working without compensation in an effort to maintain the viability of the project. The lack of a comprehensive and easy-to-use operations manual, inadequate communication among the partners and turnover among the district’s operations and maintenance staff exacerbated the problem.
Lesson: It is difficult to get anyone to accept liability as complicated issues arise. Construction and other
liabilities (such as issues of contaminated soils disposal, underground utilities, and construction fencing to ensure student safety) nevertheless have to be adopted. It is advisable to budget extra time, care and resources toward these challenges, and to plan quarterly meetings between representatives from all involved parties for the first year after construction. Written maintenance contracts and clear instructions should be developed and agreed upon before the project is completed.
Despite the intensive resource demands of the planning and implementation phase, the project does not end once construction is complete. The project will only fulfill its purpose if there is sustained interest and a plan for continuity.

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