South Orange County Water Quality Improvement Plan (WQIP): A Roadmap for Watershed Rehabilitation
The South Orange County Water Quality Improvement Plan (Plan) describes priorities, goals, strategies, monitoring activities, and adaptive management approaches that will be implemented over the next 30 to 40 years to move toward restoration of beneficial uses in South Orange County watersheds, including Aliso Creek, San Juan Creek, and various coastal streams. The Plan was submitted to the San Diego Regional Water Board on April 1, 2017 and is expected to be approved later this year. This is the first WQIP to pursue the alternative compliance pathway for discharge prohibitions and limitations language of the San Diego Regional MS4 Permit (known as provision B.3.c). The Plan also took a number of unique approaches that will be summarized in this presentation.
The Plan was built on an assessment of current watershed conditions, a long-term vision for future conditions, and adaptive frameworks to create a prioritized set of actions to move toward that vision. For example, many inland streams currently suffer from “urban stream syndrome” which can be attributable to a combination of factors. The Plan is built on a stream restoration framework that first focuses on restoration of underlying hydrologic and physical conditions before turning attention to physiochemical parameters. This framework serves as a “bridge” towards future watershed restoration by providing confidence in the value of short-term actions while maintaining a long-term vision for restoration of beneficial uses.
In the spirit of the conference theme, the Plan also includes other conceptual bridges. For example, the Plan has its roots in the current recreational water quality objectives (based on fecal indicator bacteria), but prioritizes actions to identify and eliminate actual human pathogens in anticipation of potential future changes in recreational objectives to more closely correlate to human health. Strengthening the basis for inter-agency bridges was also an important theme of this Plan. For example, the identification of unnatural flow regime/dry weather discharges as a high priority condition is expected to lead to a new level of integrated regional water management efforts between MS4 Copermittees and local water agencies to reduce, recycle, or recharge dry weather runoff.
This presentation will summarize the Plan, the unique approaches it has adopted, and the key lessons learned that may be transferrable to other watershed planning efforts.
Richard Boon is a Senior Flood Control Planner with Riverside County Flood Control and Water Conservation District. He has 29 years of experience in water quality protection and management gained in local and national government both in the United Kingdom and United States. For the last 13 years Richard managed the Orange County Stormwater Program. He is a past Chair of CASQA.
Aaron Poresky supports clients in the municipal, private, and applied research sectors with challenging issues related to watershed management. He has more than 11 years of professional experience, including high profile and complex projects related to stormwater management, green infrastructure/low impact development, integrated planning, stream protection/restoration, flood risk mitigation, groundwater augmentation, and environmental monitoring. Mr. Poresky was one of the principal authors of the South Orange County Water Quality Improvement Plan.
Trevor Alsop is a water resources engineer with 16 years of public and private-sector experience in watershed planning, public works infrastructure planning, stormwater management and environmental permitting and restoration. Mr. Alsop’s experience includes administering a compliance-driven Phase II NPDES MS4 permit program and lead roles in developing many of the major Phase I permit-required planning efforts in southern California including WQIP development, watershed assessments, BMP design guidance, and Alternative Compliance program development.