August is Water Quality Awareness Month, a time to recognize the importance of clean water to our health, agricultural and environment.
OCTA celebrates the importance of clean water every day with the Environmental Cleanup Program, which reduces the impacts of transportation-related street runoff and improves water quality for Orange County waterways. Funded by OC Go, Orange County’s half-cent sales tax for transportation improvements, the program awards money on a competitive basis to cities and the county to reduce the impacts of water pollution related to transportation by removing litter and debris from roads before it reaches the ocean and other waterways.
The Environmental Cleanup Program’s two tiers address different approaches to maintaining water quality.
The Tier 1 Grant Program mitigates the more visible form of pollutants, such as litter and debris that collects on roadways and in storm drains prior to being deposited in waterways and the ocean. Tier 1 funds equipment purchases and upgrades to existing catch basins and screens, filters, inserts and other low-flow diversion projects. To date, nearly $30 million has been awarded to 199 projects throughout Orange County.
The Tier 2 Grant Program funds regional, capital-intensive projects such as constructed wetlands and detention/infiltration basins and bioswales, which mitigate pollutants including litter and debris, but also heavy metals, organic chemicals, sediment and nutrients. To date, approximately $28 million has been awarded to 22 projects from 12 cities and the County of Orange.
The equivalent of nearly 105 football fields one foot deep in trash has been captured thanks to these projects.