Southern California environment news and trends

Stormwater runoff plans: state moves to keep water, not let it go

Still picking through the carcass of the end of legislation season, and finding interesting developments. Fran Pavley's SB 790 passed AND passed muster with the Governor: he signed into law the bill that encourages new stormwater runoff management - a big deal for southern California, where so many of our streets send the nasty into, say, the LA River, for one.

Pavley's law - which Andy Lipkis and TreePeople pushed too - will authorize grants for stormwater management projects. And it will encourage local agencies and cities to make stormwater management plans that include groundwater recharge, local infiltration, water flows that mimic natural systems, low impact development, and capturing water for use locally.

TreePeople has been big into this with its demo cistern (which, if the skies are any indication, will get a little more full in the next few days). The City of LA has also worked on this issue, with the partnership that yielded Oros Green Street a few years ago, and the rain barrel pilot project program I profiled yesterday (with timing so good I didn't even know it!).


Brown barrels full of water that's...grey? Not exactly

"Well, there we get into a gray area." "How gray?" "Charcoal."

I always understand greywater by what it is not: blackwater has sewage or bacterial contaminants in it. Potable water is drinkable. In between, it's grey. Or is it?

Over at the rain barrel story itself, a reader correctly points out that most people don't think of everything that's in between as greywater. Greywater is often understood as being from domestic processes - laundry, your kitchen sink, etc.

I was using the word in a way that's broadly accurate, but specifically misleading. I simply wasn't thinking about rainwater as potable. My reference to what rolls off the roof as grey had to do with its drinkability. Certainly the city of LA isn't treating this water as drinkable, nor are these residents. Still, in California, greywater has become an industry term - as a market evolves to help people modify their existing water systems.


A veto pen stabbing the lobster fishery

Assemblywoman Lori Saldana had proposed AB571 to establish a Lobster Management Enhancement Supplement fee - 300 bones - that commercial lobster fishermen and women would be required to pay for lobster management activities. It would have lasted only until 2015.

Governor Schwarzenegger veteoed the bill, saying: "In addition to increasing by almost 90 percent the cost of a commercial lobster permit, thereby potentially driving some permitees out of the fishery, the bill would also impose new mandates and obligations upon the Department that still would not be adequately funded."

Except, it seems the industry supports it. It's not a big fishery: 140 people. Going after these guys:

Here's a signed letter to the editor on the topic, from July, from the San Diego U-T:

Contrary to the implications of your editorial [opposing the legislation], Assembly Bill 571, by Assembly member Lori Saldaña, is a bill that is aimed at sustaining a viable lobster-fishing industry and the jobs and economic benefits associated with it.

Because there are 140 lobster fishermen in California contributing millions of dollars to the state’s economy, this legislation will have considerable economic impact locally. A healthy and sustainable lobster fishing industry helps generate money and jobs for regional wholesale, retail, food service and fishing support and supply industries.

As president and members of the California Lobster and Trap Fishermen’s Association, or CLTFA, we feel that is why our industry sponsored and supports AB 571, and that is why we feel its support by the Legislature in these tough economic times is something that should be commended rather than condemned.

San Diego

Santa Barbara


Schwarzenegger goes HIS way on RPS

More on new laws - and Schwarzenegger's vetos - as I wade through announcements. But, little surprise, the Governator rejected Assemblyman Paul Krekorian's AB21.

Schwarzenegger says, "As a world leader in climate change and renewable energy development, California needs a regional approach that provides streamlined regulatory processes and compliance flexibility that facilitate the timely construction of in-state resources. This legislative package does the opposite – adds new regulatory hurdles to permitting renewable resources in the state, at the same time limiting the importation of cost-effective renewable energy from other states in the West."

Last month, state lawmakers passed a mandate for California utilities: 33 percent of their power must come from renewables. Schwarzenegger ignored this; he signed an executive order with a similar mandate that's more generous with credits for out of state offsetting.


No Erin Brockovich, but plenty of drama in Carson

The Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board held a meeting tonight about an investigation it's opened at the former Kast property site in Carson, CA.

Public officials are raising concerns about whether hazardous and sometimes cancer-causing chemicals have contaminated soil and groundwater in an area about 50 acres big between East 244th Street, Lomita Boulevard, Marbella Avenue and Panama Avenue.

I'll have a full story soon. But I'm including a picture I took in the Carson Community Center for a couple of reasons.

1. Boy, that's a fancy community center!
2. It's full of hundreds of people who aren't happy with either Shell or regional water officials.

TV cameras came for a while: these meetings tend not to lend themselves to local news, because terribly impenetrable acronyms pepper the PowerPoints like billboards on Sunset. But dozens of residents have lawyered up, working with Erin Brockovich and the law firm Girardi & Keese. There was a rumor either Mr. Girardi or Ms. Brockovich would provide some fireworks at the meeting.