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Los Angeles may require new homes to capture rainwater

David Gutierrez
Natural News
May 31, 2010

The City of Los Angeles is considering a law that would require all new homes and large developments, along with some redevelopments, to harvest all rainwater that falls on site.

The new law would require developers to capture 100 percent of the rainwater falling onto a site in a three-quarter-inch rain storm. Builders would have to use techniques such as permeable pavement, infiltration swales, curb bump-outs and storage cisterns to infiltrate water into the soil or store it for use. In addition to reducing demand on local aquifers and wastewater treatment plants, the measure would keep 104 million gallons of polluted runoff out of the ocean each year, according to its author Paula Daniels, commissioner of the Board of Public Works.

Runoff from pavement and other hardscapes produced by urban sprawl is a major source of water pollution, washing contaminants from yards, buildings and roads into waterways and eventually into the ocean.

Builders who fail to reduce their runoff to zero would be required to pay the city $13 per gallon. This money would be used to fund low-impact public developments such as the retrofitting of 24,000 linear feet of parkway in Mar Vista to infiltrate an additional two million gallons of storm water each year.

The measure has come under strong opposition from the Building Industry Association, which already fought successfully to get the per-gallon fine lowered from $20 to $13.

“We worked out something with the business community that they can release the runoff if they first run the water over a high-efficiency bio-filtration system,” Daniels said. “In other words, they have to clean it first.”

The association remains fundamentally opposed to the law, however.

The Department of Public Works approved the ordinance in January. To become law it must be adopted first by the City Council’s Energy and Environment committee and its Planning and Land Use Management committee. At that point, it would need to be approved by the city council and mayor.

Sources for this story include: www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-ra….

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