Clean Water, Clean Beaches

UPDATE 3/12/13: After a strong show of support for "Clean Water, Clean Beaches," the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to postpone the measure to work out remaining details. We are pleased to see that the majority of L.A. Supervisors are committed to a healthy local water supply and look forward to seeing a report back to the Board on progress in 90 days.  Contact your Los Angeles County supervisor to voice your support the "Clean Water, Clean Beaches" measure. Learn more about next steps

 

Board directed staff to report back within 60 days on the duration of the parcel fee, effects on local school districts and credit programs for property owners who already have implemented stormwater mitigation improvements, among other issues. Heal the Bay staff will continue to consult with Public Works staff and our environmental partners to make improvements to the measure and bring it to voters as soon as possible.

Why It's Needed

  • Polluted runoff fouls our ocean and sickens citizens and marine life. 
  • A strong local economy is dependent on healthy, vibrant shorelines
  • L.A. can’t safely rely on importing water to meet future needs.

The Clean Water, Clean Beaches Measure is an opportunity for Los Angeles County residents to reduce harmful trash and pollution in our waterways and protect local sources of drinking water from contamination. The measure, to be voted on by parcel owners next spring, would provide $270 million in funding for innovative stormwater projects that would create multiple economic and environmental benefits for the entire region.

THE PROBLEM

L.A. County is like an enormous concrete bowl, tilted toward the sea. Rainstorms and everyday urban runoff carries billions of gallons contaminated water into our rivers, creeks, lakes, bay and coastal waters. This polluted soup of trash, chemicals, metals, pesticides and infection-causing bacteria puts public health at risk and fouls our open spaces. The unchecked runoff can also lead to substantial fines that impact businesses and municipalities alike.

Currently Los Angeles County depends on importing costly and increasingly scarce water from Northern California and the Colorado River. If we fail to identify and secure regional sources of drinking water, we may not be able to fulfill our current and future water demands.

What It Does

  • Keeps toxins and trash from reaching L.A.'s valuable beaches and ocean
  • Protects local sources of drinking water from contamination
  • Captures and cleans stormwater so it can replenish local groundwater supplies

THE SOLUTION

The County of Los Angeles Flood Control District is proposing to establish an annual clean water fee to fund the Clean Water, Clean Beaches Program. If passed by voters, a fee would be assessed on parcel owners based on the amount of runoff generated by their property. A typical single-family residential fee would be $54 annually. Some 75% of commercial properties would pay less than $420 each year.

The fees would provide dedicated funding that could only be used for pollution prevention, cleaning up local waterways and safeguarding local drinking supplies from pollutants.

Equally important, the measure would fund innovative infrastructure projects throughout the region that capture stormwater before it enters our waterways. Instead of spewing pollutants and trash into the sea, runoff can be held, filtered and cleansed naturally in groundwater basins. Stormwater becomes an asset, rather than a liability.

Clean Water, Clean Beaches LogoTHE BENEFITS

  • Protects the region’s most valuable and identifiable natural  resources – our beaches and ocean
  • Safeguards L.A.’s $20 billion coastal economy
  • Secures a reliable, safe and less expensive source of drinking water
  • 75% of all funds to be spent locally
  • Creates thousands of local jobs in engineering, construction and environmental cleanup
  • Cleanup now staves off costly state water quality regulations and fines in future

SPECIFIC PROGRAMS

  • Development of wetlands, parks and open spaces that can capture stormwater and recharge local groundwater supplies
  • Installation of stormdrain screens and filters to keep toxins and trash from reaching ocean and beaches.
  • Recycling and reuse of stormwater to irrigate neighborhood parks, ball fields and school grounds
  • Public education programs about steps citizens can take to keep pollutants out of our water system.

HOW THE MEASURE WORKS

All properties generate water runoff. The more hard surfaces that a parcel has, such as buildings or pavement, the more runoff it generates. Under the measure, property owners will be assessed an annual fee based on the runoff their parcel generates – based on the size of the parcel (not its value) and its use (residential, commercial/industrial or undeveloped). 

  • Typical single-family residential fee: $54
  • Typical convenience store: $250
  • Typical big box store: $11,000 
  • Incentives for property owners who construct on-site capture and treatment facilities

STRICT FISCAL SAFEGUARDS

  • All funds by law must be spent on local water quality improvement projects
  • Funds cannot be diverted to Sacramento or be used for any other purpose.
  • An Oversight Committee of scientists, property owners and citizens reviews all expenditures
  • Fees cannot be raised for any reason without another vote of the people.
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