Storm water strategic initiative

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, Aug. 15, 2014

Recently, the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) unveiled a proposed program dubbed its “Storm Water Strategic Initiative”. It is essentially a framework of how the board staff would move forward in a different way than in the past now that storm water permits have been recently updated. The staff needs a commitment to this process from the Board for resources.

Over the next several months the state and regional water boards will engage with stakeholders through a collaborative process to identify and discuss storm water program issues and approaches to address them. The product of this collaboration will be a prioritized list of potential Water Board actions that identifies ways to expand the breadth of the storm water program to better integrate watershed management, multiple-benefit solutions, source control and improvement in regulatory program efficiency and effectiveness.

Potential actions will focus on the following three main elements:

    1) Utilize storm water as a resource – Improves water quality and supply, by protecting and restoring key watershed processes such as overland flow, groundwater recharge, and pollutant uptake. When done properly it can help reduce flooding, mitigate storm water pollution, enhance habitat, and improve water use efficiency.

    2) Remove storm water pollutants by true source control – Preventing introduction of pollutants into the environment through product bans, product substitutes, legislative phase outs, and coordination with other agencies. True source control is aimed at preventing use of pollutants instead of removing them from the storm water through treatment.

    3) Improve Water Board program efficiency and effectiveness – Increases the rate of productivity while concurrently achieving progress towards desired environmental outcomes of improved water quality, reliable water supply and healthy watersheds.

SWRCB staff are in the middle of the developing and drafting phase expected to conclude by the end of September. They hope to have a final document by the end of November. The next phase of this project, implementation, will require the development of a strategic workplan, or a series of workplans, for the highest priority projects.

CMTA members need to pay particular attention to element #2 above.  At a recent meeting of the W.A.T.E.R. (Workable Approach to Environmental Regulation) coalition there was considerable discussion with SWRCB staff supervisor Greg Gearheart about the pitfalls of them getting into source control.

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