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If you are from Southern California, landscaped slopes are familiar to you. Unfortunately, so is the sprinkler water that all too often runs off the slopes and into the gutter - wasted. Why? Because the most common type of sprinklers, spray heads, apply water at a much faster rate than the ground can absorb. When this happens, irrigation water not absorbed by the soil runs down the slope and into the gutter - an all too familiar site. Irrigation runoff and whatever it contains enters the Municipal Storm Water System via the gutter. Then, the silent network of concrete channels directs this water into our creeks, rivers, bays and eventually, into the Pacific Ocean. But wasted water is only part of the story. Due to increased urbanization, population growth and increased use of chemicals in our environment, irrigation runoff is increasingly contaminated with animal waste, fertilizer, pesticides and other potentially hazardous materials. While many of us have been, to date, blissfully ignorant of this process, the Environmental Protection Agency has not. In order to measure and manage the severity of runoff contamination, the EPA has divided the State of California into "Watershed Regions." Each "Watershed Region" is basically an aggregation of geography that shares a common characteristic - when it rains; all the water in the "Region" naturally flows in one, general direction toward the ocean. Through the EPA and the State of California, cities within each "Region" are now being tasked with reducing the level of contaminants in their regional runoff. To reduce runoff contamination, Southern California Cities are now implementing SWPPP's - Storm Water Pollution Protection Plans. These plans call for a radical reduction in irrigation runoff as well as the prevention of runoff contamination in the first place. Targeting developers and property owners of sites 1 acre in size or larger, Cities are imposing first-offense fines of $5,000 to $25,000 in order to generate awareness, responsiveness and results. Industry experts predict that this pollution prevention responsibility will fall on the shoulders of landscape contractors who install and maintain the targeted landscapes and irrigation systems. In order to help protect our oceans from contamination and avoid hefty fines, professional contractors are responding. Trade associations such as the CLCA, California Landscape Contractors Association, are making bilingual, training modules available to its members that teach landscape crews how to improve installation and maintenance practices to prevent the following contaminants from being swept, blown or washed into the gutter* Leaves, turf clippings, pruned vegetation, bark and mulch * Soil, soil amendments, pesticides or debris from the landscape * Fuel, grease and oil associated with equipment

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June 18, 2019, 6:32 pm PDT

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