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FAQs

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If you can’t find an answer to your question, email us at SafeCleanWaterLA@pw.lacounty.gov or call our hotline at 1-833-ASK-SCWP or 1-833-275-7297.

General Questions

A quick rundown on the basics

  • In 2018, the electorate within the LA County Flood Control District voted to create the Safe, Clean Water Program, which is designed to clean and conserve billions of gallons of stormwater that would otherwise be lost to the ocean when it rains. 

    The Safe, Clean Water Program also improves the livability and resilience of LA County’s communities through development of green space, recreational opportunities, and other enhancements.

    The SCWP strongly promotes regional collaboration, prioritizes investment in underserved communities, and favors projects that take advantage of natural processes to filter, clean, and store water.

    Visit our About Us page to learn more about the Safe, Clean Water Program.

  • The Safe, Clean Water Program funds stormwater initiatives that improve water quality, increase our local water supply, and provide community benefits, like green spaces and parks. 

    There are actually three core programs within the Safe, Clean Water umbrella:

    • The Municipal Program sends money to cities, which can use it to build projects or find other ways to clean and capture stormwater.
    • The Regional Program funds regional infrastructure and research (among other things).
    • The District Program covers administration, education, and other countywide services. 

    When it comes to projects, the Safe, Clean Water Program isn’t simply a funder. We provide support to community groups, municipalities, and individuals who have a project idea but need assistance developing their concepts and applications.

    You can read more about what we do, including public education, tax assistance, job training, and more, on our What We Do page

  • The Safe, Clean Water Program addresses a range of issues, from water pollution to the inequitable distribution of green spaces.

    Like other regions affected by climate change, LA County experiences unpredictable and destructive weather patterns, such as droughts and historic storms. As such, we have an array of water resilience challenges, including polluted waterways, limited and aging infrastructure, and a dependence on imported water. 

    Much of LA County is also covered in impermeable surfaces, such as rooftops and roads, where water cannot soak into the ground. These surfaces are disproportionately located in neighborhoods that have not historically received their fair share of investment and lack greenery. When water hits these surfaces, it runs off, often collecting trash and pollutants that flow, untreated, into the region’s rivers, lakes, streams, and the Pacific Ocean. 

    The Federal Clean Water Act requires the County and the 86 municipalities within the Flood Control District to address some of these issues. However, prior to the Safe, Clean Water Program, it would have been difficult to comply.

    By capturing and cleaning stormwater, and doing so in a way that adds greenery and other benefits to underserved communities, the Safe, Clean Water Program addresses many of our region's most pressing challenges.

  • Safe, Clean Water Program funding is allocated across three areas: the Regional Program, the Municipal Program, and the District Program. 

    The Regional Program receives 50% of all Safe, Clean Water funding, with the majority of that being spent on infrastructure projects and scientific studies across LA County.

    The Municipal Program receives 40% of all Safe, Clean Water funding, to be used on infrastructure, maintenance, and more.

    Ten percent of the Program’s resources are reserved for the District Program, which covers administration, technical assistance, and countywide initiatives that benefit everyone.

Impacts

Modern infrastructure for safer, cleaner water

  • Although it takes time to build infrastructure, the Safe, Clean Water Program is already having an impact across LA County.

    As of January 2023, $670 million in Regional Program funding has been allocated to 101 projects, 14 scientific studies, 41 feasibility studies, and 12 watershed coordinators. This includes $530 million towards projects benefitting disadvantaged communities and also leverages an additional $542 million from other funding sources. 

    Those are big numbers, but the impact is far more meaningful on the ground where greenery is sprouting up and water is filtering down. For example, Edward Vincent, Jr. Park in Inglewood will capture 25 million gallons of stormwater annually, while providing recreation areas to local families. Across the county in Altadena, we helped replace 21,000 square feet of asphalt and concrete at Jackson Elementary School with over 600 shrubs and trees, so kids can play in more natural surroundings while the ground soaks up and cleans stormwater. The Wilmington Neighborhood Greening Project captures, cleans and uses approximately 7.1 million gallons of stormwater in a normal rainy year.

    We encourage you to visit the Project Portal and Watershed Area pages for detailed information about specific projects. In addition to the regional projects, cities and other municipalities have received roughly $112 million a year, which they have used to develop their own local multi-benefit stormwater capture projects and programs, and also to contribute to regional-scale projects.

  • Yes. LA County, local municipalities, and local water agencies have developed high-priority projects to capture and clean stormwater to comply with the Clean Water Act. Unfortunately, many of these projects lack funding. The Safe, Clean Water Program helps to realize these projects and fulfill standards for clean water.

  • A higher proportion of Safe, Clean Water Program funds must go to communities that have historically not received their fair share of funding. Technically, these are referred to as Disadvantaged Communities.

    More specifically, Regional Infrastructure Program funds must be allocated such that funding for projects that provide benefits to disadvantaged communities are at least 110% of the ratio of the community’s population to the total population in each Watershed Area.

    Additionally, we emphasize these communities via the public education, school education, and local workforce job training programs we administer throughout the region.

Infrastructure Projects and Scientific Studies

How you go from idea to infrastructure

  • Each year, the Safe, Clean Water Program spends much of its revenue funding scientific studies and local infrastructure projects that increase water supply, improve water quality, and provide community enhancements. 

    Municipalities submit local stormwater project and program ideas as part of their Annual Plan. Municipalities can learn more here.

    Watershed-based project ideas from municipalities, individuals, community groups, and nonprofits are selected through a yearly call for proposals that solicits applications falling into one of three categories: 

    1. Infrastructure Program
    2. Technical Resources Program
    3. Scientific Studies Program 

    The Infrastructure Projects and Scientific Studies page has a step-by-step overview to better understand the application process. For more in-depth instructions, download our Regional Program Funding Process Handbook.

  • The District, on behalf of the Watershed Area Steering Committees, announces the call for projects annually. 

    The call for Projects for FY 24-25 Funding is open now. The application deadline is July 31, 2023. 

    Applications are submitted to the Watershed Area Steering Committees (WASCs) through the Safe, Clean Water project portal.

  • Yes, a feasibility study is required before a project will be considered for funding. As defined by the Feasibility Study Guidelines, project applicants must meet the minimum requirements and also meet the threshold score of 60 points or more using the Infrastructure Program Project Scoring Criteria. Feasibility Study Guidelines and Scoring Criteria can be found in the project application

    The feasibility study should be submitted as part of your project application. The application portal will guide you through all of the required information. Please consult the Feasibility Study Guidelines for additional information.

  • The Safe, Clean Water Program provides support to community groups, municipalities, and individuals who need assistance developing their project concepts and applications. It also provides resources for those interested in learning more about their watershed or getting involved in the Program.

    If you have an idea for a project but are in need of additional support, Safe, Clean Water’s Technical Resources Program can help. It provides dedicated watershed coordinators for each LA County watershed, technical assistance teams comprised of subject matter experts, and funding and support for the development of feasibility studies, which are required as part of the Infrastructure Program project application.

  • Applications go through a series of evaluations and approvals based on a range of criteria, including water quality benefits, water supply benefits, community investment benefits, nature-based solutions, community support, and leveraging funds. The following bodies are part of the annual review process:

    • Watershed Area Steering Committees (WASCs) - Nine WASCs, each comprised of representatives from municipalities, agencies, and community stakeholders, review applications and determine which infrastructure projects are shared with the Scoring Committee for evaluation. Project concepts, studies, and scored projects are then deliberated by the WASCs as they determine which projects should be included in the annual Stormwater Investment Plan (SIP) for their watershed area.
    • Scoring Committee - The Scoring Committee - comprised of six subject matter experts in water quality benefits, water supply benefits, nature-based solutions, and community investment benefits - reviews the projects recommended by each WASC and indicates which are eligible for funding and which do not meet the scoring threshold. 
    • Regional Oversight Committee (ROC) - This committee consists of nine subject matter experts with knowledge in water quality benefits, water supply benefits, nature-based solutions and community investment benefits, public health, sustainability, and other relevant issue areas. There are also two non-voting members representing the Chair of the Regional Water Quality Control Board and the Flood Control District. The Regional Oversight Committee reviews each investment plan submitted by the watershed committees and evaluates how each plan will achieve the goals of the Program. 
    • LA County Board of Supervisors - The Regional Oversight Committee shares its findings with the LA County Board of Supervisors along with a recommendation of whether or not the Board should approve each watershed committee’s investment plan. Final decisions about which projects receive Program funding are made by the LA County Board of Supervisors annually.

Municipal Program

How cities get involved

  • Forty percent of Safe, Clean Water Program revenue is shared back to the cities and municipalities it came from, so local governments can use it to boost their local stormwater initiatives.

    The Municipal Program is designed to maximize the ability of local governments to address local stormwater and urban runoff challenges and opportunities. Funding is divided proportionately, based on how much each municipality contributed to the Safe, Clean Water Program.

    Learn more.

  • Estimates of each municipality’s local return, meaning the amount of revenue that will be shared back to each city, can be found under the Municipal Resources. Note that these estimates may vary when tax exemptions, credits, and appeals are applied. To learn more about the Municipal Program and what it funds, please visit the Municipal Program page.

Regional Program

  • Safe, Clean Water Program funding is allocated across three areas: the District Program, Regional Program, and Municipal Program. The Regional Program receives 50% of all Safe, Clean Water funding, with the majority of that being spent on infrastructure projects and scientific studies across LA County.

    Regional infrastructure projects are much likelier to get funding if they have multiple benefits for our communities. Imagine, for example, a baseball diamond with water-collecting cisterns hidden beneath the field. Green spaces, like Magic Johnson Park in South LA, can clean and capture stormwater while providing other benefits to local communities. 

    In addition to infrastructure, the Regional Program funds scientific research to help us understand where the needs are and how we can best address them.

    Learn more.

  • A Stormwater Investment Plan, better known as a SIP, is a five-year plan developed by a Watershed Area Steering Committee that allocates funding for projects and programs under the Regional Program. These include technical resources, infrastructure projects and scientific studies for the ensuing fiscal year and lay out tentative funding for four subsequent years. SIPs are approved by the Board of Supervisors on an annual basis.

District Program

  • Most of the funding from the Safe, Clean Water Program is channeled into regional infrastructure and local municipal programs that directly clean and capture stormwater. However, 10% of the Program’s resources are reserved for administration, technical assistance, and countywide initiatives that benefit everyone.

    Altogether, that 10% is referred to as the District Program, because it’s administered by the LA County Flood Control District.

    The District Program provides oversight and assistance, and generally makes sure the Safe, Clean Water Program functions at peak performance. It also oversees countywide initiatives that range from public education efforts to programs that will train the next generation of workers to build, operate, and maintain LA’s new infrastructure.

    Learn more.

Program Implementation and Reporting

Reporting and accountability

  • The Safe, Clean Water Program has 170 committee members including 11 Regional Oversight Committee (ROC) members, 6 Scoring Committee members, and 17 Watershed Area Steering Committee (WASC) members who serve on each of the 9 WASCs (153 total WASC members across the Program).

    The Regional Oversight Committee is made up of subject matter experts that are responsible for assessing whether Safe, Clean Water Program goals are being met. These members are appointed by the LA County Board of Supervisors. 

    The ROC reviews Stormwater Investment Plans to evaluate whether proposed projects support Program goals, maintains proper balance of multi-benefit projects, and steers future processes. The ROC is responsible for identifying broad issues that require attention, identifying projects to consider in the future, and raising specific items to be addressed in reporting. The ROC also reviews progress and expenditure reports annually, summarizes these reports biennially, and holds public meetings to obtain feedback on the Program.

    The Scoring Committee is made up of 6 subject matter experts that coordinate with District staff to review and finalize scoring for projects that are being considered for funding as part of the Regional Program by each WASC.

    WASCs meet regularly to develop funding plans for their respective watersheds (Stormwater Investment Plans) and provide recommendations for how to provide water quality, water supply, and community enhancement benefits for the region. The watershed committees have diverse representation from municipalities, agencies, and community stakeholders (e.g., business, environmental, environmental justice, and at-large seats).

    Current membership in each of the governance committees and additional information on roles and responsibilities can be found on their Committee pages.

  • The Safe, Clean Water Program requires reporting from all recipients of funding to foster accountability and ensure that funded activity fulfills the objectives and goals of the program.

    All reporting should be submitted via the Safe, Clean Water Reporting Module

    Submitted reports can be found in the Reporting Repository.

    More information can be found on the Reporting and Accountability page.

Tax Assistance and Information

Information on the Special Parcel tax, Credit Program, appeals, and more

  • Visit our tax estimator tool to search by parcel number or street address. Please follow the instructions on the left panel of the page.

  • The Safe, Clean Water Program parcel tax is calculated based on the amount of total impermeable area on each parcel, which includes constructed surfaces such as buildings, sidewalks, driveways, asphalt, concrete, pavers, pools, and other constructed surfaces. The runoff amount and ability to retain stormwater on your parcel is not factored into the impermeable area tax calculation. 

    There are options for a partial tax credit if you have constructed qualifying improvements on your property for the capture and/or treatment of stormwater or urban runoff. Details about the credit program, a list of qualifying improvements, and verification requirements can be found on the Tax Relief page.

  • A senior is defined as a person 62 years of age or older, who owns and resides on a single-family residential parcel within LA County. A low-income household is a household in LA County that meets the low-income limit as determined annually by the California Department of Housing and Community Development. Persons applying for this exemption must be both a senior property owner and low-income. More information can be found on the Tax Relief page.

  • A credit program is available for property owners who can demonstrate stormwater improvements that result in water quality benefits, water supply benefits, and community investment benefits. Details about the credit program, a list of qualifying improvements, and verification requirements can be found on the Tax Relief page.

  • Parcel owners who believe their tax has been calculated incorrectly can file for an appeal. For a valid appeal, there must be a significant discrepancy between the assessed and actual impermeable area. This means there must be (1) an error of ten percent (10%) or more in the impermeable area used to calculate the parcel’s special parcel tax, and (2) a difference in the special parcel tax amount of twenty-five dollars ($25) or more. Appeals must meet both conditions to be considered a valid appeal. Examples of valid and invalid appeals can be found in the tax appeal tutorial document. Please check the Tax Relief page for more information.