August 9, 2011
Nearly $3 million was awarded on Aug. 8 to provide funding for projects that will improve the quality of Orange County’s waterways and beaches.
As part of the Measure M2 environmental program, 2 percent of the half-cent sales tax will be used to protect county waterways and beaches from transportation-generated pollution. The program is estimated to provide nearly $300 million during the next 30 years to help minimize urban runoff.
“As we continue to meet the transportation needs of our county, we have to remember how critical it is to protect and preserve our environment from the impacts of our projects,” said OCTA Chair Patricia Bates, also the Fifth District Supervisor, in a written statement. “Orange County voters approved using a percentage of M2 to keep our oceans clean, which will make a long-lasting, positive impact on our quality of life and economy.”
Applications for 47 projects were received, and 34 of those projects will receive money under this first award of M2 water quality funds. Projects were selected through a competitive process using a predetermined set of criteria.
The funds awarded will be used to eliminate litter and debris from oceans and waterways. Examples of projects include providing catch basins to prevent trash from entering drainage systems, screens that capture smaller debris, and irrigation system improvements to decrease oily runoff from streets.
Every day, more than 70 million gallons of pollution washes off of streets, roads, and freeways and into Orange County waterways and beaches.Orange County has seen an increase in the number of closures and environmental hazards along the coast in recent years, according to the Orange County Transportation Authority. The water quality program in M2 will help to address some of those concerns.
M2 was approved by 70 percent of voters in 2006. Sales tax collection began April 1 and is expected to bring in approximately $15 billion during the next 30 years.