a five-year permit applying to 25 north and central Orange County cities,
that sets the ground rules for what can be discharged into receiving
waters such as lakes, streams and rivers. The federal Clean Water Act
requires the permit, but the specifics are up to the state agency.
The revised permit promises closer inspections of businesses such as
carwashes and restaurants, additional requirements placed on new
developments and less waste allowed from newly paved roads.
Under the new rules, commercial developments of more than 100,000
square feet and residential areas with more than 10 housing units would
be required to devise a way to trap the season's "first flush," said
water board member Kurt Berchtold.
The first flush is the first inch or so of rain to fall in Southern
California each season, which picks up the pollutants that have
accumulated on lawns and streets and sends them into waterways and
eventually the ocean.
Developers must create a means to catch this first rain once it has
picked up the pollutants.
"This could be a grassy area where storm water is filtered or a catch
basin," Berchtold said.
This will be an added cost to developers, which has some people
Providing affordable housing with new permit requirements could be a
problem said Tim Piasky, director of environmental affairs for the
Building Industry Assn. of Southern California.
"This will have a huge impact in building schools and homes with the
requirements far outweighing the water quality benefits," Piasky said.
"It has the potential to slow down construction of new developments that
will eliminate jobs."
The cost to install a filter or treatment device on a single lot could
cost an additional $6,000, Piasky said.
"And that doesn't cover the annual maintenance that the homeowner or
homeowner's association would have to cover," he added.
Cities will have anywhere from a year to 18 months to come up with a
regionwide approach for the first flush of runoff before the board could
begin issuing fines, but Berchtold remains optimistic.
"We think the dates of the permit are reasonable and expect that