Great news from Sacramento: Gov. Jerry Brown just signed AB 2403 into law, making it easier for public agencies in California to fund and build projects that capture and reuse stormwater and urban runoff.
Recognizing that stormwater has become a valuable source of heightened local water supply, AB 2403 formally clarifies the definition of “water” under 218 to include urban runoff and all other potential sources of water.
Written by Assemblymember Anthony Rendon, the new law enables public agencies to more easily secure funding for multi-benefit projects that capture and infiltrate stormwater for use in recharging groundwater supplies. In the past, agencies would have to take a stormwater fee measure to voters, and secure at least two-thirds approval from the general electorate – a high bar to meet. Under the streamlined process in AB 2403, 50% of landowners would have to protest to prevent an agency from imposing a fee.
Heal the Bay played the lead role in shepherding AB 2403 through the Capitol: “After years of working on this issue, we are gratified to see the state treating stormwater as a resource rather than a nuisance,” said Kirsten James, Heal the Bay’s science and policy director for water quality. “We now look forward to working with progressive agencies to implement smart, green infrastructure both here in Los Angeles and statewide.”
Urbanized areas of California have the potential to harness nearly half-a-million acre feet of water via stormwater capture each year, according to a recent study by the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Pacific Institute. That’s enough to meet all the water needs of 1 million families for an entire year.
Beyond making it easier to increase local water supplies, AB 2403 will enable agencies to greatly reduce the amount of pollution funneled onto California shorelines each year. Urban runoff remains the No. 1 source of pollution in our oceans and beaches statewide. For example, a single typical day of rainfall spews an estimated 10 billion gallons of runoff into Santa Monica Bay, untreated and unchecked. That’s the equivalent of roughly 100 Rose Bowl stadiums’ worth of dirty water.
Advocates also note that investing in green infrastructure will stimulate the economy and create jobs. At least 120,000 new jobs would be created in the state of California if public investment in stormwater management programs reached levels recommended by the EPA, according to a recent study by Green For All.