Water Quality Awareness Month, observed nationally in August, takes on special significance in Orange County, where transportation and sustainability efforts are intertwined with water quality preservation.
OCTA plays a key role in protecting Orange County’s 400 miles of beach and waterways from transportation-related pollution. Roadways, bridges, and parking lots within the transportation infrastructure contribute to stormwater runoff, which can carry pollutants into local waterways.
Funded by OC Go, Orange County’s half-cent sales tax for transportation improvements, OCTA’s Environmental Cleanup Program awards money on a competitive basis to cities and the county to reduce the impacts of water pollution related to transportation.
The Tier 1 Grant Program mitigates visible forms of pollutants, such as litter and debris that collect on roadways and in storm drains prior to being deposited in waterways and the ocean. It funds equipment purchases and upgrades to existing catch basins as well as screens, filters, and inserts. To date, $33 million has been awarded to 212 projects throughout Orange County.
The Tier 2 Grant Program funds regional, potentially multi-jurisdictional, capital-intensive projects. Examples include constructed wetlands, detention/infiltration basins and bioswales, which mitigate pollutants including litter and debris, but also heavy metals, organic chemicals, sediment and nutrients. Approximately $28 million has been awarded to 22 projects from 12 cities and the County of Orange.
Through collective efforts, OCTA balances the county’s transportation needs with responsible environmental stewardship for the benefit of current and future generations.