Welcome to the Stormwater Initiative home page. Here you will find information on the Stormwater Initiative plus the latest updates. There are also additional materials, such as staff reports, letters, PowerPoints, and white papers, developed for outreach or informational presentations that can be used as templates for similar purposes.
The Stormwater Initiative
Stormwater is a vital resource! Polluted stormwater impacts public and environmental health and its infrastructure protects properties from flooding. Proper management of stormwater and its infrastructure is critical for the health and economic prosperity of our society. We need to provide utility status and dependable funding for stormwater so, as a resource, it can be managed efficiently and reliably like a water or wastewater utility manages our drinking water resources and wastewater resources. Currently, water and wastewater districts can raise revenue through a noticed public hearing, resulting in their vital systems working well today and into the future. The Initiative will provide that utility status for stormwater, our most precious resource.
The Stormwater Initiative is an effort to pass a Constitutional Amendment through the California Legislature that would put a ballot measure before the California voters. The ballot measure would provide the opportunity for California voters to decide if “Stormwater” infrastructure and services should be funded
The ballot measure will also include provisions for allowing water districts, wastewater districts, and stormwater agencies to charge conservation rates and lifeline rates to their customers. Passage of this ballot measure would allow California to manage
Is This Important?
When it comes to rain in California two things are certain. There will be droughts and there will be floods, and a changing climate will make these natural disasters more intense. Is it important to manage stormwater as a resource like our drinking water and wastewater? The following are just some of the reasons for giving stormwater a priority and establishing an equal stature with drinking water and wastewater in California.
- Mercury and other chemicals in stormwater are ingested by fish impacting their health and the health of people who eat the fish.
- Polluted stormwater causes beach closures impacting beach related economies which, in LA County, is a $3.5 billion annual industry.
- 1.8 million people get sick every year after swimming in polluted stormwater at LA County beaches.
- One in five Californians live in a floodplain and have some risk of flooding.
- $575 billion in structure value is exposed to flood hazards statewide.
- Many of our rivers and streams in California are listed as impaired due to pollution levels.
stormwater relatedillnesses in LA and Orange Counties result in $51 million in annual health care costs
What is Stormwater?
In California, water is divided into three sectors; drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater. Managers in all three sectors are busy removing pollutants, building and maintaining a collection and conveyance system, and building and maintaining treatment facilities. Our drinking water resource is managed by water utilities (water districts) and our wastewater resource is managed by wastewater utilities (sanitary districts). Our stormwater resource is managed by a variety of local government agencies, most typically cities, counties, and flood control districts, but there are also a myriad of other unique special districts that play a role in managing this resource. In the stormwater sector, stormwater services include stormwater quality, stormwater retention and infiltration (groundwater supply), and local and regional stormwater drainage infrastructure. These elements of the stormwater sector are described in more detail below.
Stormwater Retention, Infiltration, and Groundwater RechargeNot enough rainfall soaks into the ground in many areas, which threatens the health of our
Local Stormwater Drainage Infrastructure
Each community has a series of gutters, ditches, and underground pipes to collect stormwater and protect homes, businesses, and properties from flooding along local streets and waterways. Many of these facilities are old and will need to be replaced, presenting an opportunity to incorporate stormwater treatment into the drainage system. “Green Streets” projects that divert stormwater into grassy areas for infiltration and treatment is one example, as is modifying drainage inlets in streets to capture trash before it enters our creeks. We need to develop and operate local stormwater drainage infrastructure to improve water quality and protect property values.
Regional Flood Protection Infrastructure
The planning necessary to protect communities from watershed-scale flooding requires a regional effort usually performed by a Flood Control District. Large-scale flooding can destroy business districts, schools, and other institutions essential to a community’s prosperity and well-being. Flood Control Districts provide regional facilities to protect communities from this kind of large-scale flooding. Many of our iconic rivers and streams include flood protection facilities. Replacing these aging systems will allow modifications to include enhanced habitat value and increased stormwater retention and infiltration. We need to develop and operate regional drainage infrastructure to improve ecosystem health and protect communities from flooding.
If California voters approve the ballot measure, stormwater agencies will have the ability to establish or raise rates in a manner similar to water districts and wastewater districts. However, passage of the ballot measure, by itself, will not raise any revenue for agencies that provide stormwater services. If a city, county, or stormwater agency is interested in implementing the initiative, it must be done through a public process, and if a city, county, or stormwater agency is not interested they can decide to do nothing; the choice is theirs. There will also be an opportunity, should communities desire, to organize stormwater services around what may be more efficient and effective models in their area. For example, communities could organize around County boundaries, watershed boundaries, or integrated regional water management boundaries.
Listed below are white papers, resolutions, PowerPoint presentations, letters of support, and other materials related to the Initiative, that provide more detailed information on specific aspects of the Initiative. Feel free to use any of these materials. If you intend to use these for reference, presentation, or a handout, please check this website before-hand and make sure you have the most up-to-date version. All materials have a date on the bottom of the last page and you can check that date against the latest date on the Library list below. The exception would be a PDF document. You may want to check the library regularly. New items will be posted as they are developed.
- What is Stormwater (May 13, 2015)
- Importance to Local Government (May 13, 2015)
- History of Stormwater Funding (March 25, 2015)
- Why Now? (March 30, 2015)
- Lessons Learned - Clean Water Initiative (November 14, 2013)