Santa Barbara City Council will consider amendments to the city’s water ordinances on Tuesday.
According to an agenda report prepared by principal engineer Adam Hendel, the amendments will clarify water pollution controls, water course protections and protections for connections to the city’s storm drain system.
Regulations on water misuse and irrigation meters will also be updated.
The proposed amendments would relocate the water pollution regulations from Title 16 to Title 14 of the city municipal code. Title 16 was designed to regulate liquid and industrial waste water disposal and establish requirements for discharges treated at El Estero Water Resources Center.
Because wastewater and storm drain systems are physically different systems, the proposal will clarify the definitions of water pollution, illicit discharges, discharge exemptions, watercourses and the storm drain system.
The update will also ensure the city’s continued compliance with its Clean Water Act General Storm Water
Permit requirements to prevent water pollution.
The proposal would clarify the permitting requirements for connections to the city storm drain and add a prohibition against filling in a natural watercourse and replacing it with a drainage pipe.
The city storm drain system is defined in the municipal code as “all gutters, catch basins, drop inlets, culverts,
pipes, and improved or unimproved drainage channels or ditches, and other drainage facilities located within public streets, rights-of-way, or easements, or otherwise owned and maintained by the city for the purposes of carrying storm waters, including watercourses that have been incorporated into the city storm drain system.”
Those who wish to connect to the system must obtain a permit from the director of the Department of Public Works.
The proposal clarifies the permit application must be submitted on a form provided by the city with an associated fee to be set by the City Council.
The director may also require a plan prepared and signed by a licensed civil engineer that shows the specifications and location of the connection.
According to the report, watercourse is generally a path that surface water takes to get downstream. City staff say watercourses sometimes need to be modified through grading to build or protect structures. The proposed modifications would provide a permit process for the applicant to modify a watercourse. The application would have to demonstrate the modification provides for equivalent storm water hydraulic capacity, discharges from upstream properties, and does not concentrate surface water discharge to downstream properties.
“The municipal code changes will specifically prohibit the installation of concrete or other impervious material into, or piping of, natural watercourses,” read the report.
Under the new ordinance projects that include 5,000 square feet or more of irrigated landscaped area would be required to install a city irrigation meter. Projects proposing between 1,000 and 5,000 square feet of irrigated area would be required to install an irrigation meter only if the project scope already includes installing new water services or modifying an existing service.
The municipal code currently requires projects that include 1,000 square feet or more of irrigated landscaped area to install a meter, excluding single-family residential projects.