L.A. County’s Department of Public Health has just released rainwater harvesting guidelines that could help transform the region’s management of stormwater runoff. The guidelines apply to rainwater harvesting projects, including rain barrels and cisterns, and they significantly shift the region’s approach from treating rainwater as a pollution source and flood control problem to managing it as a critical resource.
The guidelines were released at the site of a massive Proposition O project at Penmar Park in Venice. A giant pit and a huge dirt mound served as the backdrop Tuesday for the modest press event (the Conrad Murray verdict occurred an hour earlier). The Penmar Park project will capture runoff from the watershed from south-east Sunset Park in Santa Monica and the Santa Monica Airport and the Rose Avenue neighborhood near Walgrove Avenue. The cistern will store approximately 1 million gallons of runoff, which will then be disinfected and used for irrigation at the Penmar golf course and park.
The rainwater harvesting guidelines were negotiated over a two-year period with the City of Los Angeles, Santa Monica, and the environmental community, led by Heal the Bay and Treepeople. They provide clarity and certainty to project developers on how to move forward with projects that capture and reuse rainwater. L.A. County Public Health, especially Angelo Bellomo and Kenneth Murray, earn major props for moving the guidelines forward.