Now Is the Time to Fund Stormwater Projects in Los Angeles County
By Corinne Bell
This November, voters in Los Angeles County will have the opportunity to help address the largest source of pollution to surface waters in our region: stormwater. Measure W would finally create a funding stream to pay for projects necessary to address stormwater pollution and flooding.
These projects would also increase local water supply, improve air quality and reduce the urban "heat island" effect, among other benefits. Measure W ensures that the communities that typically bear the burden of environmental harms will get their fair share of these beneficial projects, as the Measure seeks to provide Disadvantaged Community (DAC) benefits in proportion to the DAC population in the County.
Stormwater has been a major problem in our region for decades, but storm drain systems, unlike drinking water and wastewater systems, have gone without a dedicated funding stream because of California's Proposition 218. Prop 218 requires that stormwater fees survive a protest hearing and either a majority landowner vote or supermajority electorate vote. Without a dedicated revenue stream, projects to address stormwater pollution and flooding must be built by piecing together funding from various sources, including inconsistent sources like cities' general funds. Now, Measure W seeks to remedy this issue.
LA's Stormwater Problem
Much of Los Angeles' urban and suburban landscape is covered by impervious surfaces (e.g., roads, rooftops and parking lots), which do not allow rain to soak into the ground. The rainfall runs off these surfaces and picks up harmful contaminants, such as trash, pesticides, heavy metals, automobile oil and bacteria along the way. This polluted mixture, known as "stormwater runoff," enters storm drain systems which then discharge the runoff—untreated—into the ocean, rivers and other waterbodies.
Urban runoff is the leading source of surface water pollution for the Los Angeles area. Polluted runoff not only harms aquatic life, but also poses serious human health risks. We've known since at least 1996 that urban runoff is "a source of fecal bacteria and a public health concern at swimming beaches." It causes hundreds of thousands of excess gastrointestinal illnesses and is responsible for between 119 to 278 million dollars of public health costs annually. The Los Angeles Regional Water Board has stated that "[p]olluted storm water and non-storm water discharges … are a leading cause of water quality impairment in the Los Angeles Region."
The tax imposed by Measure W is based on the amount of impervious surface on a property and will cost the average homeowner about $83 per year. It is up to landlords whether or not they pass the tax on to their renters. The tax will generate approximately $300 million annually, and property owners can apply for a tax credit if they reduce impervious area and/or install and maintain a stormwater project on site.
Vegetated bioswales slow, infiltrate and filter stormwater flows, and provide other benefits to communities.EPA.gov
Measure W will help fund projects that reduce stormwater pollution, increase the area's local water supply and thus decrease our reliance on costly imported water, and provide other environmental and community and public health benefits. Funded projects could be small, such as residential rain gardens, or larger projects such as parks.
Watts Green Streets Plan
The Measure prioritizes projects that decrease water pollution and increase water supply, and those that are nature-based, which rely on plants and soils to slow, filter and infiltrate stormwater. Such projects provide additional community benefits, such as increasing access to green space, while strengthening LA's resilience to climate change.
This November, voters have the opportunity to help finance these projects in their own neighborhoods and reduce the amount of polluted runoff that harms our communities and ecosystems. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity, and voters should take advantage of it by voting yes on Measure W.
If you are interested in learning more about Measure W, you can visit the campaign website at: https://www.yesonwforcleanwater.com/.
Wildfires, Heat Waves, Sea Level Rise to Be Increasingly Destructive to California, State Climate Change Report War… https://t.co/rfdL1RyBck— actcoastal (@actcoastal)1535555743.0
Corinne Bell focuses on stormwater runoff and green infrastructure in Los Angeles and beyond, as well as the water-related impacts of climate change, for Natural Resources Defense Council.
At first glance, you wouldn't think avocados and almonds could harm bees; but a closer look at how these popular crops are produced reveals their potentially detrimental effect on pollinators.
Migratory beekeeping involves trucking millions of bees across the U.S. to pollinate different crops, including avocados and almonds. Timothy Paule II / Pexels / CC0<p>According to <a href="https://www.fromthegrapevine.com/israeli-kitchen/beekeeping-how-to-keep-bees" target="_blank">From the Grapevine</a>, American avocados also fully depend on bees' pollination to produce fruit, so farmers have turned to migratory beekeeping as well to fill the void left by wild populations.</p><p>U.S. farmers have become reliant upon the practice, but migratory beekeeping has been called exploitative and harmful to bees. <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/10/health/avocado-almond-vegan-partner/index.html" target="_blank">CNN</a> reported that commercial beekeeping may injure or kill bees and that transporting them to pollinate crops appears to negatively affect their health and lifespan. Because the honeybees are forced to gather pollen and nectar from a single, monoculture crop — the one they've been brought in to pollinate — they are deprived of their normal diet, which is more diverse and nourishing as it's comprised of a variety of pollens and nectars, Scientific American reported.</p><p>Scientific American added how getting shuttled from crop to crop and field to field across the country boomerangs the bees between feast and famine, especially once the blooms they were brought in to fertilize end.</p><p>Plus, the artificial mass influx of bees guarantees spreading viruses, mites and fungi between the insects as they collide in midair and crawl over each other in their hives, Scientific American reported. According to CNN, some researchers argue that this explains why so many bees die each winter, and even why entire hives suddenly die off in a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder.</p>
Avocado and almond crops depend on bees for proper pollination. FRANK MERIÑO / Pexels / CC0<p>Salazar and other Columbian beekeepers described "scooping up piles of dead bees" year after year since the avocado and citrus booms began, according to Phys.org. Many have opted to salvage what partial colonies survive and move away from agricultural areas.</p><p>The future of pollinators and the crops they help create is uncertain. According to the United Nations, nearly half of insect pollinators, particularly bees and butterflies, risk global extinction, Phys.org reported. Their decline already has cascading consequences for the economy and beyond. Roughly 1.4 billion jobs and three-quarters of all crops around the world depend on bees and other pollinators for free fertilization services worth billions of dollars, Phys.org noted. Losing wild and native bees could <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/wild-bees-crop-shortage-2646849232.html" target="_self">trigger food security issues</a>.</p><p>Salazar, the beekeeper, warned Phys.org, "The bee is a bioindicator. If bees are dying, what other insects beneficial to the environment... are dying?"</p>
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