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Pollution fine will fund city’s pavement project

Posted: August 12, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: August 12, 2013 2:00 a.m.

Permeable pavement can be found in the parking lot of the Newhall Library, shown here Saturday. Photo by Dan Watson.

Almost half of the $225,000 pollution fine levied against the local sanitation district last fall is earmarked to pay for retrofitting Santa Clarita parking lots with permeable pavement as a way of saving water, The Signal has learned.

In November, members of the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board named the Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District a polluter and fined it about a quarter of a million dollars, saying the district violated conditions of its permit to discharge chloride into the Santa Clara River.

Under state law, a portion of the money the water board collects from polluters can be used to fund environmental projects in the community being fined — if the community has a qualifying project on file.

City of Santa Clarita officials saw the fine coming and made sure they had an environmental project in place to capitalize on grant money available through the fine.

Now at least $97,500 is to be spent turning hard-pavement parking lots into environmentally sustainable lots of porous concrete made of permeable material, said Robert Newman, the city’s Public Works Director. 

The retrofit is expected to make better local use of water by catching storm water and allowing it to seep into aquifers instead of allowing it to wash away as runoff, Newman said.

The “permeable” parking lots are designed to act most like a natural environment so that when it rains, the rainfall collects in the soil underneath it.

Santa Clarita already has some such lots, including one at the Newhall Library.

Visitors can also see the permeable pavement when they drive into the lot at the Newhall County WaterDistrict - which received a Leading Energy Efficiency Design award for its environmentally sustainable design.

“Instead of a solid concrete slab you have a different sub-base structure so that it’s more porous, so that the water is able to go through the concrete,” said water district General Manager Steve Cole.

The parking lot looks like giant Rice Krispies squares made of concrete, allowing rain water to pass through and recharge the groundwater.

When it comes to “reigning in the rain” across the Santa Clarita Valley, several parking lots have been tagged for permeable pavement retrofitting, Newman said.

Permeable pavement is planned for the ongoing expansion of the McBean Parkway Park N Ride parking lot at Valencia Boulevard and for the expansion of the parking lot at the Valencia Library, Newman said.
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