Storm-Water Strategy

by Derek Wieske, P.E.,
Lisa M. Penna, P.E.,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 2002, Vol. 72, Issue 2, Pg. 62-67

Document Type: Feature article


Water pollution laws are certainly nothing new, but increased public scrutiny, beach closures, and media coverage�particularly in Orange County, California�have placed new pressures on public agencies to deal proactively with the issue of urban runoff. It is standard procedure for most California communities to operate separate municipal storm sewer systems that discharge untreated urban runoff to receiving waters and, ultimately, to the Pacific Ocean. The city of Laguna Beach was among the first southern California communities to divert nuisance flows into a sewer collection system during the dry weather season. These flows are then treated at a wastewater treatment plant rather than discharged untreated onto the city's beaches. Although not viewed as a panacea to the urban runoff problem, the city has found these diversion systems to be effective end-of-pipe solutions and, therefore, important components of a comprehensive urban runoff management program. However, with more than 50 ocean outlets in the city's storm drain system, the cost to install these systems at all of the outlets has become significant. The methods used by the city to prioritize these 50-old projects may serve as a model for the many other municipalities across the country who are searching for ways to fund similar projects.

Subject Headings: Urban areas | Runoff | Municipal water | Water discharge | Urban and regional development | Drainage systems | Beaches

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