plants near storm drain on residential street on rainy day

Informing Equitable Stormwater Investments in L.A. County

In a drought-prone area like Los Angeles, rainwater provides tremendous potential to boost local water supply, as well as provide multiple other ecosystem and community benefits. That’s why in 2018, L.A. County voters approved Measure W, a tax that raises about $280 million annually to capture, clean and reuse water runoff. Measure W and the program it created, the Safe Clean Water Program, funds projects to clean and strengthen the local water supply and build community resilience. Research by the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation and Stantec is helping to ensure that these investments benefit all Angelenos, especially residents of disadvantaged communities, as the program already calls for. A new report provides advice to the county to strengthen the impacts of the program over time. The study analyzed 116 projects funded by the program — projects like converting open spaces into wetlands and adding rain gardens along transit lines. Researchers explored the program’s selection process and how projects are geographically distributed in disadvantaged communities. The team also conducted workshops with nonprofit, community-based, and public and private sector stakeholders to understand neighborhood needs and anticipated benefits from each project. “It’s crucial that members of disadvantaged communities have the opportunity to identify those benefits for their own communities. It can’t just be a top-down process,” said Jon Christensen, co-author of the report and an affiliated scholar at the Center for Innovation. This project builds upon the center’s research on local water resilienceenvironmental equity and urban greening, as well as L.A.’s voter-approved infrastructure measures

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