Advertisement

Verde Laguna: The ocean begins at your front door

August 12, 2010|By Gustavo Grad

Editor's note: This is the first of a series of three columns to address the runoff problem, overwatering from irrigation and the transporting of fertilizers, pesticides and nutrients to the ocean.

The city of Laguna Beach early this summer mailed a message about changes in lawn watering regulations and a request for help from all of us. Many Orange County cities are being directed by state regulatory agencies to no longer accept runoff from over-irrigation and land watering that drains to the storm drain systems, and the state is requiring cities to amend the municipal codes to prohibit runoff.

Water that flows from our streets to the ocean has become the single largest source of water pollution today. We need to understand that urbanization and life in an urban environment is a source of pollution, and that we are both the source and the cause of pollution.

Advertisement

Runoff has increased as the city has grown and become paved-over with buildings, streets, parking lots and patios. In the early years, 95% of the rain either infiltrated the soil or evaporated and only 5% was runoff. Today, less than half of the rain infiltrates the soil naturally; it cannot soak into paved areas. As impervious surfaces increase, peak runoff velocities increase, base flows and evaporation decreases, erosion happens and water quality degrades.

On average, streets can comprise between 60% and 70% of the total impervious coverage in urban areas and, unlike rooftops, streets are almost always connected to an underground stormwater system. The movement of pollutants in urban runoff is a concern since it contains chemicals and pathogenic organisms that could impair water quality.

Recognizing that streets are the greatest factor in stormwater quality, it is important to employ standards that reduce impervious coverage. While street design is mandated by local municipal standards and it is up to decision makers to allow alternatives, we can take simple steps to reduce or eliminate runoff from our property. We need to define the problem first and then identify opportunities to develop a beach-friendly home. The challenge is to implement measures to control runoff.

Coastline Pilot Articles Coastline Pilot Articles
|
|
|