Opinion: Storm water regulations would send jobs, growth down the drain

A proposed state program to manage storm water runoff would hit businesses with new regulations so costly that economic recovery and job growth would be sent down the drain as well.

The new regulations include never-before-used numeric limits on the chemicals carried away by storm water. The limits are so tough that they threaten to force businesses to install hugely expensive filtration systems.

The costs involved are potentially backbreaking for businesses struggling in California’s dismal economy.

What makes the program outrageous is the state wants to impose these regulations without any evidence that shows numeric limits will lead to better water quality or any study on the cost-effectiveness of the draconian responses they require.

Here are some examples of the costs involved:

The Los Angeles Business Journal reported that a High Desert cement plant near Victorville estimates it would cost $2 million to comply with the new monitoring requirements and another $14 million to build a filtration system to meet the numeric limits.

Developers and construction contractors face regulations to capture and clean runoff from multi-family and commercial construction that they estimate will cost a minimum of $5,000 an acre up to $60,000 an acre if numeric limits are violated.

Those costs would have to be passed on to families in the cost of housing and to businesses for office space and warehouse space.

An estimated 10,000 facilities in California will be affected by the new regulations, many of them in the struggling manufacturing sector of our economy.

The new regulations even work to end a money-saving practice where businesses pooled their resources to pay for monitoring required by the state. Instead of an annual inspection, the new timetable requires an inspection every month and it must be conducted by the business, not an outside agency.

That effectively kills the practice of a group of businesses paying into an association or outside firm to share monitoring costs.

The first set of regulations proposed earlier this year were sent back for reconsideration after an uproar from affected businesses and facilities.

A second set of regulations is due out soon. Minor tinkering with the proposal will not answer the pressing concerns of businesses.

The new regulations need to avoid enforcing unproven numeric limits, radically increasing monitoring costs and requiring actions without a study on their cost-effectiveness.

Our coalition supports clean water programs and has participated in programs in support of those goals. However, an unproven and tremendously expensive set of new storm water regulations would most likely reduce the flow of business activity and new jobs.

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