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The 44 beaches along the Santa Monica Bay in Los Angeles County, California, are among the most popular in the nation; they are visited by an estimated 55 million beachgoers a year and generate over 1.7 billion a year for the local economy. Since 1998, there have been 106 posted beach closures of these beaches, and because of this, the California Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB) listed the Santa Monica Bay beaches as impaired for bacteria (i.e., total coliform, fecal coliform, and enterococcus) under Section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act. As a result of a consent decree between the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), Heal The Bay, and Santa Monica BayKeeper, the RWQCB was ordered to expeditiously implement total maximum daily load (TMDL) requirements for the Los Angeles region. One of the first TMDLs is for bacteria to the Santa Monica Bay beaches during wet weather (RWQCB, 2002).

Joined by other municipal jurisdictions regulated under the TMDL, the City of Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation has taken the lead to prepare an innovative Implementation Plan to comply with the Santa Monica Bay Beaches Bacteria Wet Weather TMDL. Because the City has championed a holistic, watershed-based approach to TMDL compliance, the RWQCB offered compliance deadline relief (up to 18 years instead of 10 years). This extension is for compliance plans that reflect an “integrated water resources approach”. An integrated water resources approach is one that incorporates multiple pollutants, multiple beneficial uses, multiple jurisdictions, and multi-purpose projects. The broad-based group of Los Angeles-area stakeholders that are participating in the development of this integrated plan includes representation by the RWQCB as well as many key environmental groups. A draft Implementation Plan must be submitted to the RWQCB by March 15, 2005, and a final Implementation Plan by July 15, 2005.

The recommended plan is one of the first in the nation implementing an integrated water resources approach for TMDLs in a large urban, arid region. This integrated approach will serve as a model for looking at watersheds holistically, and it provides an example of achieving multiple watershed benefits by solving water quality problems through the cooperation of multiple jurisdictions and stakeholders.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2004-01-01

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