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Sensible Management of Storm Water Runoff

July 27, 2002

Re "Finally Cleaning Up Its Act," editorial, July 20: In commending the Orange County Sanitation District, The Times states: "Now that water quality agencies are imposing strict rules on urban runoff, city officials in most of Southern California already are talking of 'not needed' and 'too expensive.' "

Not needed? On the contrary, cities throughout Southern California support strict guidelines to improve storm runoff and drainage systems and are fully committed to cleaning up the region's storm drains. But we need regulations that have a reasonable chance of succeeding. Similar plans in Orange and San Diego counties have failed. Why? Because it's unfair to force cities to penalize residents for washing their cars in the driveway or local businesses for hosing bird droppings from their sidewalks. And who will cite the child who drops a candy wrapper into the storm drain?

Too expensive? You bet. The L.A. regional water board failed to conduct a cost-benefit analysis to tell if these regulations will deliver results. A state-commissioned study sets the costs for new regulations at $54 billion over 20 years and almost $200 million in annual operating costs. The L.A. board's plan is based on flimsy science, where a single test site determined the guidelines for all communities. As a result, city budgets will be devastated. Thousands of Californians will lose jobs. Businesses will incur significant new costs. And for what? Even the L.A. board staff concedes that its rules will not be effective.

Is there a better way? Yes. A watershed approach to storm water management would deliver measurable results based on sound science and water engineering, and at a reasonable taxpayer expense.

Randy Bomgaars

Council Member

Bellflower

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