Tag Archive | "Water"

Water Guardians efforts lead to new bill

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Water Guardians efforts lead to new bill

Posted on 25 July 2017 by La Habra Journal

By Taylor Engle
La Habra Journal

Laws are normally initiated as bills by government officials. So, it is truly unique when a law is passed because of the hard work of four teenage girls from La Habra. But that’s exactly what happened.

The Water Guardians with Assemblyman Phillip Chen at Washington Middle School.

Assembly Bill AB 1343 was signed by Governor Jerry Brown on July 21, and it encourages a water conservation collaboration between local K-12 schools and water suppliers.

Assemblyman Phillip Chen introduced the bill. It aims to reduce water usage in schools, storm water and dry weather runoff, school pollution, and educate students about water conservation.

However, Chen wasn’t the originator of the bill. The bill was first proposed to Chen by the “La Habra Water Guardians,” Four girls, Angelique Dequit, Jessica Gallegos, Fiona Paredes, and Skye Lim.

The group of ambitious young teens raised enough money through a school dance and by the help of sponsors to travel to the state Capitol and propose the bill.

The group created a conservation plan as a school project at Washington Middle School in 2015, which won statewide praise and national recognition.

The girls are currently attending Sonora High School, but are still committed to their environmental efforts and are excited to see the water saving measures being implemented statewide.

“AB 1343 helps make water conservation an important part of our education,” Dequit said.

The project allowed for drought-tolerant gardens at the school location. The group also replaced old toilets with more conservative, newer models.

“Water is vital to California. From the water we use to drink, shower, grow our crops, to water used to generate electricity at our dams, our future success is dependent on it. Many cities and utilities are providing rebates for residents that install drought-tolerant plants or water efficient fixtures like toilets and washing machines,” Chen said.

Chen’s office had to work a lot with the Assembly’s Education Committee to ensure the language of the bill was approved of. The bill had to go through Assembly Education, Assembly Environmental Safety and Toxics Material Committee the Senate Education and Senate Environmental Quality Committees before it could be passed.

Through meeting with water districts to help foster their relationships with school districts, Chen learned about a lot of incentive programs that aren’t being utilized enough by the schools.

“We need to make sure that the community and the school districts are educated on water conservation and the programs that are available,” Chen said.

Although there is still much more to be done to help with the state’s drought, this bill is a good beginning to a more conscious future when it comes to water conservation.

“I think that this bill is a great start in helping get the conversation going with school districts and water districts,” Chen said. “I do believe that this bill is just a start and there is more that can be done on water conservation efforts and I look forward to working on this issue in the future.”

When asked whether or not a water conservation bill would have been considered without the help of the Guardians, Chen responded, “Water conservation is an important topic that definitely needs to be addressed, I am glad that the Water Guardians brought their idea to my attention so I could help them achieve their goal.”

“We want to create a future for our community and state where we have a plentiful water supply and all citizens are better prepared with water conservation skills for life,” Lim said.

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La Habra delays vote on water increase

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La Habra delays vote on water increase

Posted on 22 July 2015 by La Habra Journal

By Jay Seidel
La Habra Journal

The La Habra City Council decided to delay voting on a possible rate increase to water, sewer and refuse fees at its meeting Monday.
Mayor Pro Tem Jim Gomez urged the council to delay the vote to ensure the public had the proper notification and ability to comment on the possible increase.
He explained that due to a filing error by the city staff, the residents might not have the proper 45-day notification of the potential increase.
“It’s a matter of transparency and doing the right thing for the people of La Habra,” Gomez said.
Notification will be sent out in the next water bill as well as advertisements in local publications.
If residents would like to voice their comments about an increase they are welcome to contact and email the city.  More information can be found on the city’s website.

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Drought causing new LH water regulations

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Drought causing new LH water regulations

Posted on 26 May 2015 by La Habra Journal

By Nur Sattar
For the La Habra Journal

La Habra began its water conservation efforts in August of 2014 following Governor Gerry Brown’s executive order that the state needed to cut down by 20 percent.Presentation page 4
The city called for cut backs of 25 percent through the “Stage 2 Declaration” water shortage supply program that was implemented August 2014.
The declaration prohibits watering your lawn more than two days a week, washing of driveways, sidewalks and asphalts, and washing of vehicles with a hose. The declaration also warns against the runoff of water onto public median turfs and public right of way.
“When you’re watering…you can’t have your water in the gutter or in the street waste water,” said Elias Saykali, director of public works.
Newly added regulations include drip lines for irrigation in new homes that are constructed and residents may have to pay $10,000 a day for violating the terms of the Declaration.
So far, La Habra hasn’t had any violations. If anyone is caught going against the measures the city is proposing, officials try to work it out by giving a warning and leaving door tags.
“We try to educate people and for the most part that works, we haven’t had to issue any citations,” said Brian Jones, water and sewer manager.
At the Town Hall Meeting held on April 30th detailing drought conservation methods Saykali mentioned that the city had invested around $12 million dollars to build the Portola and La Bonita Wells.
The first groundwater well was established in La Habra in 1980 and now there are three, which amounts to 44% of the city’s water supply. These wells allow the city to cut back in the amount of water it pulls from the Municipal Water District of Orange County.
“The cost of local well water drawn from the La Habra basin is much lower than from our other sources of supply,” Jones said.
“The reason we don’t do more [extract] is because of the safe yield,” Saykali said.
The safe yield is the level determined by engineers that determines how much water can be extracted without inflicting any harm on the land.
At the La Habra Town Hall Meeting on drought conservation held on April 30th Saykali presented slides outlining that 7% of La Habra’s water supply in 2015 came from MWDOC.
“We didn’t or buy any water from MWDOC last year or the year before,” Saykali said.
La Habra is also pushing for a “brown is the new green movement” which encourages replacement of turf with drought tolerant options.
The city has drought tolerant landscape medians on Lambert Road.
Dr. Sean Chamberlin an oceanography professor at Fullerton College organized a project with funding provided by the Metropolitan Water District of California. The project entailed training a group of students with the basic ideas needed to introduce drought tolerant plants into lawns. The students then took that training back to their communities to introduce to their parents and neighbors.
Chamberlin explained that the best way to get started is to focus on a small area or corner.
“Start somewhere, learn how to do it and become familiar with the plants. It’s not that they’re just cactus, there’s lots of really beautiful lush plants that don’t require much water,” Chamberlin said.
Despite the variety in drought tolerant options, Chamberlin pointed out that the process of completely replacing one’s lawn with these options can be research heavy.
“You have to really educate yourself to know what to plant and do the planning,” Chamberlin said.
Some of the difficulties in replacing your lawns can include dealing with Latin names of plants and only seasonal options of these plants available in Lowe’s and Home Depot.
“For the average homeowner the key is to just start with something,” Chamberlin said. “Start with one plant, buy it and put it in and see what it does, you want to reduce the amount of lawn.”

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Heights needs to test city water

Posted on 09 March 2014 by La Habra Journal

By Steven Ward
La Habra Journal

New mandates from the State of California’s Regional Water Quality Control Board are revamping the way cities, including La Habra Heights, are held accountable and will test for pollutants in their ground water.Seal_La Habra Heights
These regulations will ensure that cities test for metals and bacteria, which will provide reasonable assurance that streets, streams, and aquifers are not carrying pollutants downstream. Cities that are unable to provide evidence beyond doubt that they are containing bacteria and metals within their city limits will be forced to pay penalties and may be made to install urban infrastructure such as curbs, gutters, sidewalks, storm drains, and sewers.
As the oversight of this operation, the Regional Water Board has been given the power to levy large fines on cities and individual property owners.
Due to the importance of complying with the new regulations, cities around La Habra Heights have joined permit groups aimed at collaboration between themselves to build new and improve existing infrastructure.
However, La Habra Heights has received conditional approval from the Regional Water Board to prove the city’s natural drainage system will keep contamination below the acceptable levels, a move designed to preserve the area’s rural qualities.
As a result, the Regional Water Board has imposed conditions on La Habra Heights that include, but are not limited to, the adoption of a Low-Impact Development & Green Streets ordinance.
“This ordinance requires development projects with over 10,000 square feet of impervious surface to conform to Low-Impact Development standards.  Projects meeting this criterion are required to control pollutants and runoff volume from the project site by minimizing the impervious surface area and controlling runoff through infiltration, bioretention, and/or rainfall harvest and use,” Isaac Wilhelm, the MS4 Permit Coordinator, said of the ordinance.

“Furthermore, there will be more rigorous enforcement of Municipal Code violations regarding sediment erosion, illicit discharge, septic failure, hazardous waste, construction debris, trash accumulation, dumping, and animal keeping.  It is also meant to encourage all residents to consider low-impact development strategies.”
In addition to the ordinance, the Board has also required the city to create a computer model that will be designed to document water flow across private properties, streets, and streams within the city limits. This information will be used to determine the most likely sources of pollutants and is a process known as a Reasonable Assurance Analysis.
Following the computer model, a series of tests of standing and flowing water will occur in order to locate the presence of any metals, bacteria, and/or nitrates. Each of which can come from such likely sources as zinc from automobile brake systems, animal waste and septic systems, and fertilizers. These tests will commonly take place both on dry days as well as after large rain showers.
Testing is set to begin 90 days after the completion of the RAA.
La Habra Heights will be able to continue with its natural drainage and septic systems as long as pollutants are found within reasonable levels; if the limits established by the State are exceeded, the city will have to formulate a solution that is acceptable to the Board.
Residents are already taking action to help the city retain its rural drainage qualities, one going so far as to replace his existing concrete driveway with permeable honeycomb pavers.
Information on how to keep household water flow within the state guidelines can be found at the EPA’s website: water.epa.gov/polwaste
However, Wilhelm assures that the MS4 Permit and the LID & Green Street Ordinance “will not affect the City, it will improve it.”

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