Stormwater legislation passes in California

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• SB790 to impact water supply, flooding, stormwater pollution and greenhouse gas emissions

SACRAMENTO, CA, Oct. 12, 2009 -- 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.

TreePeople is an environmental nonprofit that unites the power of trees, people and technology to grow a sustainable future for Los Angeles. Founded in 1973 by teenagers, TreePeople's mission is to inspire, engage and support people to take personal responsibility for the urban environment, making it safe, healthy, fun and sustainable and to share the results as a model for the world. More information at www.treepeople.org.

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