Orange County Branch Newsletter

June 2014

Continuing Education

How to Implement A Good Stormwater Quality Program with Today's Regulations

By Michael Dole, P.E.

Orange County Stormwater Program Overview
Presented by Richard Boon, Orange County Watersheds

At the ASCE/EWRI seminar on the morning of June 6th, Mr. Richard Boon, from the Orange County Watersheds, presented on the County’s perspective of water quality within the region.  The presentation started out showing how the hydrology of the area has drastically changed within the last century and that the sometimes discussed strategy of restoring the streams and channels to the predevelopment conditions would be extremely difficult.

Mr. Boon continued by summarizing the recently published Orange County State of the Environment, a document that describes the County’s current environmental status and recommends future strategies for improvement.  In the last decade, the County has experienced a decrease in beach closures, beach advisories, sanitary sewer overflows, and more; verifying that the iterative planning strategy of implementing and improving the local NPDES permits is benefiting the environment. 

Through the Orange County Stormwater Program, a public education and outreach program, residents have been found to be more willing to engage in the activities that improve our waterways.  These activities include, but are not limited to, sweeping instead of hosing down walkways, adjusting sprinklers to prevent over watering, and picking up pet wastes.  The original Foundational Campaign strategy, which utilized mass media and mailings, has provided some benefit due to its ability to reach large numbers but the County has found that this strategy leads to low behavior change.  To increase the potential behavior change, the County is pursuing an Action Campaign, with more personalized media and one-on-one personal contact.  The Program goal is to reduce runoff coming from lawns and yards by getting residents to modify their behavior.

To round out the presentation, Mr. Boon discussed current strategies for Project Water Quality Management Plans and the County’s regional approach to Best Management Practices.  While the watershed and waterways may never return to pre-development conditions, through proper methodologies, the environment can be improved and the watershed can take steps in the right direction.

The other presenters included Amanda Carr (City of Irvine) and Daniel Apt (Vice-President, RBF Consulting/Michael Baker International).  Ms. Carr discussed the City of Irvine water quality program and the Collaboration Foundation, a multi-party funding agreement which includes Cities, Orange County, water districts and developers trying to comply and implement the NPDES Permit.

Dan Apt’s presentation focused on implementation strategies of the stormwater permit requirements. Mr. Apt discussed Low-Impact Development, Hydromodification Management, BMP retrofits and gave specific examples of projects studies.