Ventura stormwater runoff rules approved, not clearly understood

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Los Angeles' regional water regulators have approved a set of rules to limit stormwater runoff from properties in the Ventura County area.

The L.A. Regional Water Quality Control Board has worked for three years to develop a plan that would cut pollution from runoff on new development in Ventura. A plan approved last summer requires 95 percent of land on a developed site to hold on to water that forms from three-quarters of an inch of rain.

But at a meeting this week in Ventura, last-minute changes to the plan appear to loosen that limit.

Building industry advocates have pushed to permit water to percolate into soil that acts as a filter. Then some water would flow into a creek or the ocean. It's a cheaper alternative to other water control methods in low impact development.

The Natural Resources Defense Council's Noah Garrison says it's also less reliable. Garrison attended the hearing. He says the final result confused him.

"Through a process that lasted several hours this language was altered, revised, re-proposed, discussed at length and the final discussion showed that no one really understood what the language would require. But the board went ahead and adopted it anyway," Garrison said.

The water quality board hasn’t released what it passed, and water regulators have not been available for comment. Garrison says it’s likely the plan will face more challenges in the future.