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SB 790 Passes - A Step Forward for California's Water Future

Impacts on water supply, flooding, stormwater pollution and greenhouse gas emissions

Laurie Kaufman
Reuters
10/12/2009

SACRAMENTO, Calif., Oct. 12 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Despite threats by
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to kill all of the 704 bills on his desk unless
he and legislators reached an agreement, the Governor decided to approve SB
790, also known as the Stormwater Resource Planning Act. SB 790 creates a new
framework encouraging California municipalities to address the stormwater
issues in a new way. It encourages municipalities to manage stormwater for
beneficial uses such as augmenting water supply, preventing floods, mitigating
stormwater pollution, creating green space and enhancing wildlife habitat.

"I was proud to carry SB 790, which promotes the use of stormwater, now viewed
as a pollution problem, as a source of water for open space, landscaping, and
groundwater recharge," says Senator Fran Pavley (23rd District). "It uses
existing funds to create new water supplies out of water that in the past was
simply treated and dumped. This bill helps create a significant new source of
water for our always water-short state. I want to thank TreePeople for their
visionary work and their dedication in helping this bill get passed by the
Legislature and signed by the Governor."

SB 790 is a critical bill that moves state policy toward viewing stormwater as
a resource rather than just seeing it as an expensive problem to be managed.
The old "gray" infrastructure choice of paving over cities and turning rivers
into concrete ditches is not the only option to manage stormwater. The passage
of SB 790 encourages alternative, innovative solutions.

"The passage of SB 790 is a milestone in improving the sustainability of
California's water resources because it will help local municipalities begin
to use stormwater as a local water source," says Andy Lipkis, TreePeople
Founder and President. "This will make us more water resilient in times of
drought and climate change and will also reduce the L.A. region's greenhouse
gas contributions. When Southern California harvests rain that falls on our
cities, we require less energy to pump water from distant sources."

With their partners, including the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power,
and the City and County of Los Angeles, TreePeople has demonstrated the
success of harvesting rainwater at several large and small demonstration sites
in Los Angeles. Their latest project, at their headquarters in L.A.'s
Coldwater Canyon Park, features a cistern that holds a .25 million gallons of
rainwater. This cistern is filled from last year's rains and supplies
landscape irrigation for an entire year.

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