Regulations may be coming for storm water discharges from all construction and industrial sites in the state.

Last month, a panel convened by the State Water Resources Control Board concluded in a report that numeric limits for the amount of pollutants that can be discharged into runoff can be established for both construction and industrial sites throughout the entire state.


It's the first step in what could be a years-long process of setting limits on pollution discharges into rivers, streams and bays statewide. Some local water boards including the one in Los Angeles County have already enacted trash and chemical discharge limits from industrial sites and municipal storm drain systems.


But even this preliminary finding drew opposition from the California Manufacturers and Technology Association, which says the costs to industrial facilities to install runoff and pollution control technologies (such as water storage systems or recycling of runoff) would be prohibitive. Any numeric limits on discharges of storm water are "unrealistic, unattainable and would waste precious taxpayer dollars while also driving employers out of business," the trade group said.


Numeric limits for discharges of some chemicals and trash are already in force for the Los Angeles River watershed and have been proposed for the San Gabriel River watershed. Any state regulations would apply to discharges into all bodies of water from commercial and industrial sites, including the ocean.


The panel's report did not recommend establishment of numeric limits on discharges from municipal storm water systems, saying they are too geographically spread out to get accurate measurements.


Public comments on the report are due by Aug. 4; the agency can be reached at www.waterboards.ca.gov.


More Storm Water Regs
Separately, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors last week voted 3 to 2 to impose fees on approximately 3,800 businesses located on unincorporated county land to fund the county's own required program to reduce storm water pollutants.


That program is mandated by the federal government as a condition for the county receiving a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permit. The county must inspect industrial facilities within unincorporated territory to ensure that these facilities meet required storm water pollution reduction mandates.


The fees approved last week would raise an estimated $151,000 in the program's first year but would rise to an estimated $490,000 a year after that. The money would be used to compensate the county's Health Officer for additional inspections.


During a public hearing on the fee program, some business owners said they were already paying fees to comply with a similar state program. In response, the county agreed to drop those businesses from its program.


That concession did not appear to be enough to persuade county supervisors Michael Antonovich and Don Knabe the two most conservative board members to go along with the new program.


More County Fees
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors was busy last week with fees on businesses. The board voted unanimously to boost public health, license and permit fees 3 percent for more than 130,000 businesses in the county that are required to have health permits.


Among the wide range of businesses subject to the fee increase: animal keepers, tattoo parlors, strip clubs, restaurants, dental offices, garment makers, apartment complexes and waste hauling services. Currently, each establishment pays a fee ranging from $27 to $2,300.


Cumulatively, the fee increases are expected to raise $1.8 million toward the county's Environmental Health division's $63.5 million budget.


If there's any good news for the impacted businesses, it's that county officials chose not to pursue an 8.3 percent fee increase, which is the amount that they said was needed to fully pay for the public health inspection program. Instead, they now face a projected $3.3 million budget shortfall, which they said they would address through cost reductions and "aggressively pursuing fee collections."


To find out more about the fee increases, log onto the County Board of Supervisors' July 25 agenda web site at ttp://lacounty. info/ bos/ sop/supdocs/26646.pdf.


Dry Cleaning Rule to Be Toughened
The state Air Resources Board this month scrapped a proposed rule to reduce the use of perchloroethylene, or "perc," by dry cleaners and is instead pursuing an all-out ban on the cancer-causing chemical.


The decision to scrap the reduction proposal came after the board heard from environmental advocates and other air quality regulators that a ban was feasible. The South Coast Air Quality Management District had already enacted a ban on perc and state Air Resources Board members felt that would be a more appropriate course to pursue, a board spokesman said last week.


As a result, the initial hearing on the rule, originally set for July, has been pushed back indefinitely as staff works to develop a new rule.


Staff reporter Howard Fine can be reached by phone at (323) 549-5225,
ext. 227, or by e-mail at hfine@labusinessjournal.com .

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