SAN FRANCISCO – The City of Hermosa Beach has received nearly $1.3 million in federal Recovery Act (economic stimulus) funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and State Water Resources Control Board. The funding from EPA’s Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund supports improved stormwater management through a ‘Greenstreet’ retrofit of Pier Avenue.
The infiltration and storm-drain elements that this project introduces are uniquely different from traditional stormwater management systems. In Southern California, urban stormwater runoff is the #1 cause of pollution in coastal waters. Stormwater runoff is made worse by the density of impervious surfaces in urban areas like roads, buildings and parking lots.
“The City of Hermosa Beach should be commended for applying innovative low impact development tools to address urban runoff and protect beach users,” said John Kemmerer, associate Water Division director for EPA’s Pacific Southwest region. “Retrofit projects like this are particularly challenging. This is an example of how cities can address stormwater pollution in a sustainable manner and at the same time create beautiful public spaces for their residents.”
The Pier Avenue Improvement project includes a new storm drain system designed to address existing flooding problems and reduce stormwater pollution to the nearby beach. The new drainage system will incorporate an innovative infiltration system that will retain stormwater runoff, irrigate new drought-tolerant landscaping and divert runoff that would otherwise end up in the ocean. An exciting green feature of this project is its use of reclaimed water service for this and future landscape irrigation in the downtown area.
Low impact development tools mimic natural hydrologic conditions, and include increasing permeable, vegetated areas to assist the infiltration and evapotranspiration of stormwater, in turn minimizing the volume of stormwater discharges. By using low impact development tools, pollutant flows are reduced and the need for more expensive traditional treatment is minimized.
In Hermosa, beaches are considered impaired because they exceed the state’s bacteria standard. This retrofit project is designed to reduce discharges of bacteria-laden stormwater. It also includes features to control trash that would otherwise be discharged to the Ocean.
The infusion of $1.265 million to this project is an example of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act going to work to help California and its local governments finance many of the overdue improvements to water projects that are essential to protecting public health and the environment across the state. To fund projects like this, the State Water Resources Control Board’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund program received $280 million from EPA. Under ARRA, at least 20% of these funds must be applied to “Green Projects.” The Pier Avenue retrofit project is receiving funds pursuant to this Green Project Reserve. The SWCRB provides low-interest loans for water quality protection projects for wastewater treatment, non-point-source pollution control, and watershed and estuary management throughout California.
Although not funded under the Recovery Act, Hermosa Beach is simultaneously making additional improvements as a part of this project. These improvements also incorporate multiple public benefits, including new shared bike lanes, new landscaped medians with pedestrian refuges and bulb-outs to enhance pedestrian safety, street and median trees to reduce heat island effect, and drought-tolerant landscaping. The total cost of the project is anticipated to be approximately $4.8 million.