More than 100 people were appointed Tuesday by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to recommend and oversee allocations of Measure W property taxes to capture and treat stormwater runoff.
The measure passed with the approval of nearly 70% of voters last November, after years of battling between various constituencies — including present and former board members — interested in shaping the county’s compliance with the federal Clean Water Act.
“This was a big win. It was a landmark measure,” Supervisor Sheila Kuehl said.
The board also voted its intent to adopt the ordinance to implement Measure W, which will require one more administrative vote at a future meeting.
The new appointments are for 10 seats each on nine Watershed Area Steering Committees that will recommend funding for collective watershed projects entitled to 50% of the estimated $300 million in annual tax money raised. Another seven seats on each WASC will be filled via election by representatives from the relevant municipalities.
Nine experts in water quality, water supply, community investments, public health and related fields were also appointed to a Regional Oversight Committee and another six to a Scoring Committee.
Committee members include representatives from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, various city sanitation and parks departments, and private sector environmental agencies. Trade and business associations, such as the L.A. Area Chamber of Commerce, are also represented.
Cities will get 40% of the tax money to fund their own priorities and the remaining 10% will go to the county flood control district.
The median home will be assessed about $83 annually, according to county estimates. Property owners can calculate their bill at www.safecleanwaterla.org.
Qualifying low-income seniors and nonprofit organizations are eligible for exemption from the tax of 2 1/2 cents per square foot of paved and developed areas. Other property owners can apply for tax reductions based on income.
Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who did not attend Tuesday’s board meeting, had cast the lone vote against putting the measure on the ballot, saying she was concerned about the burden on property owners and felt the measure went above and beyond what is required by federal law.
The county has been out of compliance for years with federal stormwater requirements and was sued by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Santa Monica Baykeeper in a case that went to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ultimately held the county responsible for cleaning up the Los Angeles and San Gabriel rivers.
Untreated stormwater and urban runoff into the region’s two main waterways have resulted in excessive levels of aluminum, copper, cyanide, zinc and fecal bacteria. Those rivers drain into Santa Monica Bay and the Pacific Ocean, leaving areas near storm drains closed to swimmers and surfers after heavy rainfall.
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