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The City of Santa Monica's Urban Runoff Management Plan (URMP) promotes the use of low impact design in construction projects for the specific purpose of harvesting most stormwater urban runoff for reuse, infiltration or treatment (and release), reducing the amount of runoff flow and pollution that leaves the City and enters the Santa Monica Bay. This watershed approach to managing urban runoff is in accordance with the Sustainable City Plan of Santa Monica, which states in part that natural resources, including any local resources such as runoff, are used wisely and that the environment is protected from pollution. The URMP incorporates this principle during the design of construction projects, private and public, and requires post-construction Best Management Practices (BMPs) to harvest runoff. Moreover, the URMP shifts from a paradigm of runoff being viewed as a waste product to be discarded to a new paradigm of viewing runoff as a local natural resource for reuse. For dry weather urban runoff, the City also promotes the treatment and reuse of this resource. The Santa Monica Urban Runoff Recycling Facility is the first-of-its-kind treatment facility that does just this—harvests, treats and reuses local dry weather runoff.

The City has an urban runoff mitigation ordinance, requiring that runoff from newly constructed buildings be reduced through the installation of post-construction BMPs. This strategy accomplishes two goals: harvests a local water supply for future extraction and prevents a water pollution problem from entering the Bay, the single largest source of water pollution in the country. During the plan check process for new projects, developers must show how urban runoff will be harvested and/or treated and released. The URMP focuses City resources on efforts to incorporate retrofit BMPs within private and public properties, and the public storm drain system, for the purpose of treating or reducing runoff before it leaves City boundaries and enters another jurisdiction.

This presentation will describe the different types of BMPs that the City has used, which demonstrate the City's commitment to LID principles to reduce runoff pollution and improve environmental health. These systems, such as infiltration chambers, porous paving, and cisterns are designed to act with nature to harvest runoff for infiltration and improve water quality of local water bodies. Moreover, the City hopes that other municipalities will learn from the City's experiences and follow in this sustainable path.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2008-01-01

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