We May Have Paved Over Paradise, But Measure W Could Save LA

Measure W is our chance to secure local, safe, clean water for generations of Angelenos

This November, Angelenos have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to address the largest source of pollution to our regional waters, increase local water supply, and provide recreational green spaces in neighborhoods that most need them. Through a parcel tax, Measure W will bring in ~$300M every year to fund urban runoff and stormwater capture, treatment and reuse projects throughout the region. 

Stormwater and Water Supply: No Small Problems to Solve

The way Los Angeles has managed—or failed to manage—urban and stormwater runoff has had disastrous effects on our environment, our communities and our economy.  Perhaps no region in the world has more efficiently paved over paradise. LA’s concrete jungle contributes to poor water quality, flood risk, air quality issues, heat island effect, and lack of recreational areas and habitat.

Every day in LA county, 100 million gallons of urban runoff contaminated with metals from industrial facilities, herbicides and pesticides from our homes, oil and grease from our roads, pet waste, plastics and other contaminants flows untreated into our creeks, rivers and ultimately our coastal waters. During a storm, this total can rise to 10 billion gallons or more of polluted runoff. A 2006 report concluded that polluted stormwater in LA County causes between 427,800 and 993,000 cases of gastrointestinal illness each year, resulting in public health costs of up to $278 million.

Not only is this runoff the region’s largest source of water pollution, it is also the byproduct of a wasted resource that could be used to augment LA’s local water supply, thus protecting the region against drought and making the region more resilient to climate change.

A myriad of issues can be addressed pretty simply: by capturing RAIN! Of all the options to combat water pollution and simultaneously increase local water supply, no solution offers a greater variety of benefits than distributed, nature-based rainwater capture and reuse projects. In other words, the best way to capture rainfall and reduce stormwater runoff is to build more parks and greenspace, and make our schools, homes, businesses, streets, and parking lots greener.

Capturing, treating and storing rainwater through nature-based infrastructure across all of our neighborhoods offers a wide array of environmental and community benefits—not only improving water quality and enhancing local water supply, but also providing recreational opportunities, combating air quality pollution and heat island effect, reducing our carbon footprint, creating wildlife habitat, reducing flood risk, creating a diverse array of green jobs, and promoting greater community health.

Invest Now, or Regret Later?

We know, we know…another tax? The real truth is you are already seeing — or will see — dramatically rising costs of water as our sources of imported water continue to dwindle and our gray infrastructure begins to crumble. The LA region is far too reliant on imported water that is threatened by drought, earthquake or other natural disasters, over-allocation, or even legal decisions. To address these issues, our state is proposing massively expensive new gray projects (like ocean desalination or twin tunnels). Measure W is a means of creating a system to capture a free and local source of water starting now, in order to avoid these costly projects down the road.

Tujunga Wash Greenway Restoration Project

More About the Measure

The Safe, Clean Water Measure is a balanced approach to stormwater capture that includes important protections to ensure projects achieve water quality and supply benefits for generations to come.

The parcel tax, which will cost the average homeowner about $83/year, is based on impermeable surface (2.5 cents per square foot per year) as the amount of hardscape on a property directly correlates with the amount of runoff pollution. Measure W prioritizes nature-based projects that maximize community investments, like parks and greening our schools, and requires significant investments in disadvantaged communities that are most burdened by environmental concerns.

The measure also puts in place important oversight and transparency mechanisms – in fact, you can see how much you’ll pay annually by typing your address here. Measure W also includes a credit program so that those who have already invested in reducing or eliminating run-off from their properties (or commit to do so) will see their bills reduced or even eliminated.

Finally, Measure W allocates some of the funds raised to education, technical support and job training to ensure communities are invested in – and benefit from – the projects built from this measure. Yes, in addition to all the other benefits of more green spaces, bolstering LA’s local water sources, and ensuring healthier waterways and communities, these projects will also create good jobs and career pathways for working families.

It’s a win-win all around. Let’s get out to the ballot box on November 6 and demand local and safe, clean water! Vote Yes on W.

Contact Us

LA Waterkeeper
120 Broadway, Suite 105
Santa Monica, CA 90401

Email: info@lawaterkeeper.org
Phone: 310-394-6162
Fax: 310-394-6178

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