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Safe Clean
Water for L.A. County

The Safe, Clean Water Program provides local, dedicated funding to increase our local water supply, improve water quality, and protect public health.

Safe, Clean Water Program Goals

Developed in collaboration with public health, environmental groups, cities, business, labor, and community-based organizations, the Safe, Clean Water Program:

  • Updates LA County’s water system to capture more of the billions of gallons of water we lose each year.
  • Helps protect our coastal waters and beaches from the trash and contaminants in stormwater that make people sick and threaten marine life.
  • Modernizes our 100-year-old water system infrastructure using a combination of nature, science, and new technology.
  • Helps protect public health, ensuring safer, greener, healthier, and more livable spaces for all.
  • Prepares our region for the effects of a changing climate – including recurring cycles of drought, wildfire, and flooding.
  • Requires strict community oversight and independent auditing which would ensure local monies raised would stay local.

Locally-Controlled Dedicated Funding

The Safe, Clean Water Program generates up to $285 million per year from a special parcel tax of 2.5 cents per square foot of impermeable surface area on private property in the LA County Flood Control District. Publicly-owned parcels, including schools, are exempt under state law. Property owners who have installed stormwater-capture improvements can qualify for a tax credit. Qualifying low-income seniors and non-profit organizations are eligible for exemption.

Strong Fiscal Accountability

The Safe, Clean Water Program includes strict accountability requirements. All money must stay local to protect our clean water and increase our local water supply with annual reports and independent audits required.

Read more

Safe, Clean Water Program Brochure

Safe, Clean Water Program Benefits

Safe, Clean Water Program: Exemptions, Credits, Reductions & Appeals

More Water Captured

Every year, L.A. County loses over 100 billion gallons of water—enough to meet the annual needs of more than 2 million people. We live in a water-scarce area and rely heavily on imported water from other regions. Extreme weather conditions and the five-year drought have severely impacted communities across the county. And because so much of our region is paved over, too much precious rainfall is lost to the ocean before we can capture it for use. When we experience heavy rains, our original system captures only a fraction of rainfall. As extreme weather becomes the new normal, we need to rethink where we get our water and decrease our reliance on the Sierra Nevada snowpack and the water we pay to bring into L.A. County.

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    What a waste

    Over 100 billion gallons of lost rain and other water = a year’s worth of safe, clean water for more than 2 million people.

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    No control

    L.A. County imports ⅔ of its water.

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    Toxic Soup

    The rain we don’t catch washes contaminants and trash into our rivers and oceans.

Modern Infrastructure

By enhancing and redesigning existing green spaces (and creating new ones), we can recharge our groundwater and capture runoff through diversion structures, infiltration chambers, and pre-treatment systems. Developing new projects and updating our current infrastructure system specifically for stormwater can improve our ability to cope with the changing climate, increasing demand, and other pressures. Image Credit: Council for Watershed Health

Less Pollution

Every year, over 4000 tons of trash and plastic gets cleaned from our beaches. Stormwater picks up chemicals from pesticides, fertilizers, plastics, metals from our cars, pet waste, and other contaminants as it flows over the streets and other developed areas into our rivers, streams, and the ocean, threatening public health and marine life — that’s why beach closures follow nearly every heavy rain. Many marine mammals, seabirds, and fish also wash up sick or dead along Southern California’s shoreline every year, either from mistakenly eating plastic garbage and other toxins, or ensnaring themselves.

Equitable Water System

While unclean stormwater poses risks for everyone, these problems are experienced differently across our region. Many of our region’s low-income communities have fewer parks, shade, and natural areas, and as a result are disproportionately affected. With less access to parks, shade, and natural areas, many of these communities are much more vulnerable to the effects of extreme weather conditions, like flooding and extreme heat. Additionally, low-income communities in flood plains, near landfills, or in highly urban areas with less open, natural space to soak up stormwater are particularly at risk of exposure to contaminants found in stormwater runoff. With fewer opportunities for natural absorption of stormwater, these communities are at higher risk of flooding and as a result, at higher risk for property damage and sickness, exacerbating already existing challenges including financial instability, the hardships of costly home repairs, medical bills, or lost wages. New stormwater infrastructure doesn’t just mean more local water — it also means new parks and green spaces where they’re needed most.

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    Stormwater, Health & Equity

    While unclean stormwater poses risks for everyone, stormwater problems are experienced differently across our region, with low-income communities often disproportionately affected. Learn More

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    Green Infrastructure

    Nature-based green stormwater infrastructure projects can capture and help clean more stormwater while providing environmental, recreational, economic, and health benefits to communities. Learn More

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    Infrastructure & Community

    There are opportunities for cities and communities to help revitalize underused and disinvested areas that may be good locations for projects that help to build water and climate resiliency. Learn More

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    Stormwater Flooding

    L.A. County and its 88 cities spend millions of dollars each year addressing damage to public and private property caused by uncontrolled stormwater runoff. Learn More

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    Drinking Water

    While we rely on outside sources for approximately 2/3 of our water, local rainfall is an essential source of L.A. County’s water supply. See how stormwater is related to our drinking water. Learn More

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    Water Independence

    As climate change causes longer and more severe droughts that lower groundwater levels, local agencies will become more dependent on regional systems to provide clean water at affordable costs. Learn More