In a document released by California’s Water Board entitled Strategy to Optimize Resource Management of Stormwater (STORMS), released November 2, 2015, Water Board officials are taking a very strong position on stormwater as a valuable resource. In fact, within the 27 page STORMS document, stormwater is mentioned 15 times as a “resource” and specifically as a “valuable resource” 8 times. This is a decidedly new position for California where some areas of the State still consider stormwater a waste or nuisance to be conveyed away from property and people as quickly as possible. The first of 3 goals outlined within STORMS states the following intent, “Change the perspective that Stormwater is a waste or hazard and treat it as a Valuable Water Resource.”
While this outdated paradigm is still embraced by some California officials, not all regulators see stormwater in such negative terms. For instance, many parts of southern California, including the Los Angeles area, have been utilizing stormwater as a resource for many years. As discussed in a previous blog, the City of Los Angeles can’t seem to design and construct green infrastructure (GI) projects fast enough. GI projects, which fall under the low impact development (LID) umbrella, have many benefits, such as increased open space, reduced downstream flooding and erosion, and increased aquifer recharge. City officials responsible for the most recent GI projects are using stormwater capture and aquifer recharge as the top talking points, moving other benefits like reductions in flooding, erosion, and waterway impairments to footnote status.
As a drywell installer, Torrent Resources has been singing the “stormwater is a valuable resource” tune for many years. Other areas of the country, including the Pacific Northwest, are decades ahead in their treatment of stormwater and promote infiltration as a primary method of stormwater management. As with any change, transforming entrenched beliefs about stormwater that once provided the perspective from which all stormwater regulations were written will take time and education. It’s great to see California’s Water Board, which is the top water policy maker in California, changing the dialog about stormwater to something that will reap massive rewards for the State’s water resources going forward.
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