An Easy way to Stop Sending All Ojai’s Fresh Water Down the Drain

In the recently published Ojai Valley News – quoted below – Jeff Palmer almost proposed an excellent solution to a big Ojai problem.

KEEP our water in the valley DON’T  send it to the ocean.

Typical methods (and codes) have previously required all concentrated drainage i.e. from roofs to be piped from gutters through pipes and onto City streets. Once on the street – water flow increases – picking up lots of toxic auto waste from the roads and quickly makes its way to the ocean (simplified version but true).  This is exactly what we do not want  !

Drywell Pit – one solution

Drywell pit

The answer is to slow the water down – redirect the flow and encourage water absorption back into the ground recharging the aquifer with fresh, clean water.

According to the article below – Mr. Palmer did a “windshield survey” noting “numerous downspouts emptying directly into the ground …” were “direct connections” to the sewer system. I am not sure how Mr Palmer knows this, however I do know that emptying the water into the street is exactly what we don’t want.  We don’s want it sent through the water treatment plant or down to the ocean.

There are many simple ways to achieve this:

  • Drywell pits – basically a gravel filled pit that fills with water and allows it to go back into the ground – see illustration above
  • Landscape Berms – create landscape features that corral and hold water rather than shed water
  • Water storage – more complicated with tanks etc.

Many cities have already changed their thinking about drainage connections – requiring devices such as drywell pits.

Dec 5, 2014 Ojai Valley News

Ojai gets more than 2 inches in latest storm
Bill Warner

“But though stream beds remained dry, the precipitation was definitely noticed at the Ojai Valley Sanitary District’s wastewater treatment plant. “We haven’t been able to calculate the total gallons yet,” said Jeff Palmer, general manager of the Ojai Valley Sanitary District, “but by noon Tuesday we were up about 20 percent over our normal flows.” The treatment plant, just south of Casitas Springs, receives wastewater from the Ojai Valley as well as the Cañada Larga neighborhood. Palmer attributed the increase to yard drains and downspouts with direct connections to the sewer system.

Palmer said he had conducted a “windshield survey” of several Ojai streets during the rain, observing what appeared to be numerous downspouts emptying directly into the ground with no outlet to the street. Such connections are not legal by ordinance, Palmer said. The sewer system is intended to receive wastewater from dishwashers, sinks, washing machines and bathrooms, he said, but not from rooftops, yards or driveways.