[permaculture] Los Angeles might require rainwater capture

Patrick forgeadams at yahoo.com
Thu Feb 4 04:25:47 EST 2010

I want some Andy Lipkis commentary on this. Do any LA folk on list with insight into this proposal?

Patrick O'Connor

A proposed law would require new homes, larger developments and some
redevelopments in Los Angeles to capture and reuse runoff generated in

The ordinance approved in January by the Department
of Public Works would require such projects to capture, reuse or
infiltrate 100% of runoff generated in a 3/4 -inch rainstorm or to pay
a storm water pollution mitigation fee that would help fund off-site,
low-impact public developments.

The fairly new approach to
managing storm water and urban runoff is designed to mitigate the
negative effects of urbanization by controlling runoff at its source
with small, cost-effective natural systems instead of treatment
facilities. Reducing runoff improves water quality and recharges

 Board of Public Works Commissioner Paula Daniels,
who drafted the ordinance last July, said the new requirements would
prevent 104 million gallons of polluted urban runoff from ending up in
the ocean.

Under the ordinance, builders would be required to
use rainwater storage tanks, permeable pavement, infiltration swales or
curb bump-outs to manage the water where it falls. Builders unable to
manage 100% of a project's runoff on site would be required to pay a
penalty of $13 a gallon of runoff not handled there -- a requirement
the Building Industry Assn. has been fighting.

"The Building
Industry Assn. is supportive of the concept of low-impact development
and has invested a lot of time and energy in educating our members on
those techniques and advancing those technologies," said Holly
Schroeder, executive officer of the L.A.-Ventura County chapter of the

 "But when we now start talking about using LIDs as
a regulatory tool, we need to make sure we devise a regulation that can
be implemented successfully."

Schroeder said that some building
projects, such as those in downtown L.A. or areas where the soil is
high in clay, would have difficulty with the 100% retention rule and
that the $13-a-gallon mitigation fee is too high. A one-acre building
on ground where runoff could not be managed on site, Schroeder said,
could pay a fee as high as $238,000.

"We're seeking flexibility to reflect the site circumstance," she said.

At the urging of business groups opposed to an earlier draft, the Board of Public Works has acquiesced on some points.

worked out something with the business community that they can release
the runoff if they first run the water over a high-efficiency
bio-filtration system," Daniels said. "In other words, they have to
clean it first."

The board also decreased the per-gallon
mitigation fee from $20 to $13. The mitigation fees would fund public
low-impact developments, such as the Oval Street project planned for
Mar Vista, where 24,000 linear feet of parkway will be retrofitted with
porous pavement, bio-retention basins and other water infiltration
strategies designed to capture 2 million gallons of storm water that
would otherwise flow to the ocean.

The ordinance next moves to
the Energy and the Environment and the Planning and Land Use Management
committees of the City Council, before going to a council vote and the

Daniels said she hoped the ordinance would be approved in the next six months and go into effect by 2011.

"I don't want to waste another rainy season," she said.


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