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People walk under an umbrella during a mid-season storm. Rain run-off washes a swirl of chemicals, trash, gum and debris into the drainage system, which in turn makes its way to major bodies of water.
People who swim, surf and fish in L.A.'s coastal waters have their first chance this week to learn how regulators plan to keep them clean with updated rules for managing stormwater.
The meeting will be held Thursday at 10:30 a.m. in the California Science Center in Exposition Park.
Water that hits the city streets sends all the pollutants that coat those roads — oil, trash, bird droppings, chemicals — straight into storm drains. The Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board has the job of keeping that pollution at levels considered safe for people, marine life and the ecosystem.
"Pollution limits have been put in place over the last decade to make sure that our water body actually gets cleaned up," emphasizes Kirsten James, a member of the clean water advocacy group Heal the Bay.
"So it could be anything from making sure that our beaches are safe for swimming to making sure that fish in our waters are safe for consumption."
Those rules also apply to the owners of stormwater drains — namely, the cities and Los Angeles County. But James says local officials don't always welcome tougher limits.
"It's a costly endeavor to clean up the water," according to James, "and so we see a lot of municipalities dragging their feet and saying they can't spend all this money to clean up the water."
Some cities are working on their own low-impact development ordinances. Others plan to capture and clean runoff water.
Regional Water Board members plan to hold Thursday's workshop and one other like it before deciding on county-wide regulations. A finalized set of rules is slated for September.