SACRAMENTO — Los Angeles County residents may be asked whether to approve new fees that would support clean-water projects under a bill authored by Assemblywoman Julia Brownley (D-Santa Monica) that passed the state Legislature on Friday.

If signed into law by Gov. Schwarzenegger, the bill, AB 2554, would authorize the Los Angeles County Flood Control District to ask voters if they want to pay a property-related user fee to help maintain water quality and availability throughout the region.

This bill is essential to the operation of the Los Angeles County Flood Control District as it tries to eliminate significant pollution imperiling the health of 8 million residents and jeopardizing the economy in the greater Los Angeles area,” Brownley said in a press release. “AB 2554 takes the best approach to mitigating storm water runoff pollution: through a funding structure that enhances comprehensive regional and municipal planning.”

The flood control district serves more than 3,000 square miles and 85 cities. It includes 14 major dams, 2,800 miles of underground storm drains, and 77,900 catch basins.

Urban development has led to expanded paving of land surfaces, interfering with the natural filtration and cleansing of groundwater through soil and plants, according to Brownley. As storm waters and urban runoff collect, they become contaminated with nearly 100 different pollutants from trash, bacteria and chemicals and spill out into the area’s rivers, putting human and marine life at risk, the assemblywoman said in a press release.

If voters choose to approve new user fees, the revenue would be allocated for water quality programs as follows: 10 percent would go to the district for administration of the programs, 40 percent would be returned to cities and unincorporated areas within the district, and 50 percent would be allocated to the nine watershed regions in the district.

news@smdp.com

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