File art. water-permeable pavement installed at library parking lot. Dan Watson Jan 14, 2017

15 chosen by county to recommend best ways to capture stormwater

If you were not convinced that every drop of water in the Santa Clarita Valley matters, consider this:

Santa Clarita Valley water users have the SCV Water Agency as their water steward, ensuring a reliable supply of high-quality water.

At the same time, the state has its SCV Groundwater Sustainability Agency — with an advisory group — monitoring and managing SCV’s water underground as part of the Santa Clara River Valley East Sub-Basin, which stretches west from Agua Dulce to the Ventura County line and from the northern reaches of Castaic Lake to Calgrove Boulevard.

Now, Los Angeles County has a committee of 17 seats, and its members are expected to recommend projects to preserve and, hopefully, increase the water supply of the Santa Clara River watershed by capturing stormwater and urban runoff.

The steering committee is expected to develop guidelines and select programs that would prioritize funding through Measure W, which was approved by voters last year.

Measure W

The Safe, Clean Water Act — a parcel tax for impermeable surfaces — was approved by voters by a 69.45% margin on Nov. 6, 2018. 

The special tax applies to parcels located in the Los Angeles County Flood Control District, throughout most of Los Angeles County, at a rate of 2.5 cents per square foot of impermeable area. 

This encompasses paved or built-in surfaces — like concrete patios and driveways — that prevent stormwater and urban runoff from entering the earth.

Anyone in the Santa Clarita Valley who owns a parcel of land that inhibits rainwater entering the ground must pay 2.5 cents for each square foot of impermeable land — land that prevents water returning to the ground.

Someone who has a driveway measuring 100 square feet pays $2.50 in taxes.

The tax money then goes into a pot earmarked for projects that best capture stormwater.

Recommended projects 

Those projects are recommended to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors for approval by those people chosen for the steering committees.  

The committee overseeing the Santa Clara River watershed is one of nine watersheds identified in Los Angeles County.

The Safe Clean Water Act program is a “multi-benefit” stormwater and urban runoff capture program intended to increase water supply, improve water quality and provide community investments, said Matthew Frary, spokesman for the county’s Safe Clean Water Act program. 

“When it comes to the programs we look at three big areas — water supply, water quality and community enhancement,” Frary said Monday.

“A committee might recommend a good concept,” he said. “But, it should have multi-benefits — not simply a program that just lets water soak into the ground.”

Water-permeable pavement

One “good concept” endorsed by the county and the city is water-permeable pavement. The “permeable” parking lots are designed to act as much as possible like a natural environment so that when it rains, the rainfall collects in the soil instead of running into storm drains.

One of the parking lots ripped up and replaced with porous pavers was the Newhall Library’s. Permeable pavement was also put in at the tennis courts of Valencia Glen Park.

The parking lot looks like giant Rice Krispies squares made of concrete, allowing rain water to pass through and recharge the groundwater. 

The local steering committee is expected to hold its next meeting late October or early November, Frary said.

Each meeting will be open to the public, he said, noting county public works officials are expected to staff the meetings.

County supervisors hope the program puts Los Angeles County on a path to water resiliency and economic security.

And, they hope to accomplish through the vision of carefully chosen water experts who — through “equity-focused strategies” and policies — could increase drought preparedness and improve water quality.

Steering committee

The 17 members of the steering committee eyeing programs that promise to enhance stormwater capture are divided into three representative areas: agency stakeholders (five members), community stakeholders (five members) and municipal members (of which there are seven).

Members of the steering committee monitoring the Santa Clara River watershed include:

  • Dirk Marks, SCV Water Agency
  • Steve Cole, SCV GSA
  • Julian Juarez, Los Angeles County Flood Control District 
  • Kristen Ruffell, SCV Sanitation District
  • Janine Prado, City of Santa Clarita
  • Hunt Braly, the law firm of Poole & Shaffery LLP.
  • Wayne Crawford, local business, Santa Clarita Concrete
  • Sandra Cattell, local chapter of the Sierra Club
  • Jason Gibbs, local business GP Strategies
  • Dianne Erskrine-Hellrigel, SCV Community Hiking Club
  • Paul Alva, Los Angeles County
  • Darren Hernandez, City of Santa Clarita
  • Heather Merenda, City of Santa Clarita
  • Robert Newman, City of Santa Clarita
  • Tom Cole, City of Santa Clarita

Alva represents three seats assigned to represent the county. Those seats could and likely will be assigned to their own individual representative.

[email protected] 

661-287-5527 

On Twitter @jamesarthurholt 

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