By Ryanne Mena
SMC Corsair / Daily Press Staff Writer
With storm season approaching, officials are pitching voters on the Countywide Measure W that would levy new taxes on private property to fund clean water projects.
The Los Angeles County Public Works (LADPW) held a briefing on Oct. 4 in Marina Del Rey using the recently redesigned Oxford Basin as an example of the projects Measure W could fund if passed.
Jolene Guererro, of LADPW, stood in front of the Oxford Basin as she spoke of the land’s history. “Before it was just a lake basically. It was developed in 1959 to capture stormwater, the runoff that comes from the streets, to prevent the houseless from being flooded,” said Guererro.
The water held in the space prior to the renovation allegedly had quality issues, along with sediment that collected over the years.
The 2015 finished project cleaned the water, improved the native ecosystem and included benefits to the local community.
“So for this project, they cleaned up the sediment, they added native plants around the edges, native plants that could help capture some of the pollutants that flow in our rainwater,” said Guererro. “A really important thing they did with this project though is not just worry about the water quality, but how can they improve the community, and that’s why walking trails were added.”
Measure W will fund the County’s the Safe Clean Water Program. The 2.5 cent tax would only apply to impermeable areas such as concrete roofs and sidewalks on private property (with exemptions for government buildings and non-profits). The measure will raise an estimated $300 million per year.
“Every year a full 100 billion gallons of water runs down our curbs and out into the ocean. We have to get water-wise. Extreme weather is our new normal and recurring cycles of drought are a reality. We need smarter ways to capture, clean and store stormwater, so we can increase our local water supply, clean that water, and save it for future use,” said Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, Chair of the Board of Supervisors, when they approved the program earlier this year.
Revenue would be earmarked for three kinds of projects. Half would be returned proportionally to local watersheds to fund regional projects too large for individual cities to tackle. About 40 percent would return directly to cities for local projects and the remaining 10 percent would be used for education projects by the LA County Flood Control District including curriculums in schools, workforce educational job training, and other programs.
“For every dollar that’s generated on a parcel in a disadvantaged community, they get a dollar and ten cents,” according to Edel Vizcarra, of LADPW.
The measure would in part focus on increasing the County’s local water supply. “Roughly two-thirds of our water that we use here in LA County comes from outside sources,” said Vizcarra. The amount of imported water can then be cut back if a drought strikes the region.
Measure W will be before voters in November.