The Ripples Behind and the Waves Ahead – A Message from the Stormwater Program Manager

It’s hard to believe that I’ll commemorate a decade with the Stormwater Program in 2010. It’s even harder to consider that Los Angeles’ Stormwater Program celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. Time sure does fly!

The City’s Program has grown significantly in the past 20 years. In 1990, the original staff of the then-named Stormwater Group was comprised of just two people working to meet early stormwater regulations that were the result of the 1987 amendment to the 1972 Clean Water Act. Since those early days, the division has matured to more than 80 dedicated staff members implementing a comprehensive watershed protection program that includes education, engineering, enforcement, research and development, monitoring, and conducting scientific studies. And, in the process, the program has become one of the national leaders in stormwater management garnering the respect of agencies throughout the country with award winning projects and programs.

Of course, like all programs, we’ve also had our share of challenges, and we are currently facing some daunting issues that will test us for years to come. As our program enters its third decade, we face obstacles that range from multiple and increasingly stricter federal regulations to recent budget deficits that force us to do more and more with fewer resources.

These obstacles, however, are also opportunities for the program to grow and mature. Stricter water quality goals also mean greater impact on the work we do, which in turn speeds up the process to achieving these objectives. This of course, does not come without hard work, but I believe our staff and community partners are up to the challenge.

As we enter this new decade, I’m encouraged by a paradigm shift that I’m seeing and the opportunities afforded by this change. More and more in this era of drought, people are realizing that rainwater is a resource that can be used or infiltrated back into decreasing groundwater supplies, instead of a liability that needs to be diverted and removed as quickly as possible. The overwhelming residential support we’ve enjoyed with our pilot Rainwater Harvesting Program and the recent collaborative work we’ve done with the community to craft a workable yet flexible Low Impact Development (LID) ordinance demonstrates the desire on the part of City residents to do their part in conserving this most precious resource.

In this issue of the LA Stormwater newsletter (sign up here), we’ll take a glance back at the last 20 years and provide a look ahead at the future of the City’s program. You’ll enjoy interviews with a few of the Stormwater Survivors, those dedicated staff members who have been with the City’s Program through most of its history. We’ll also feature an article by guest-writer Mark Gold, President of Heal the Bay, who will provide an environmnetalist’s viewpoint. Lastly, we’ll issue a challenge to you – the community – to make a few simple rainwater resolutions as we enter a new decade.

Even after 20 years, the solution to clean water remains the same. It calls for a team effort, with the City and community working together to bring about the change we all want – cleaner creeks, rivers, lakes and beaches for our families and children.

To all, a healthy and prosperous 2010!

Best Regards,

Shahram Kharaghani, Stormwater Program Manager

Click here to view all of the articles in Issue 9 of the LA Stormwater newsletter.

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