Stormwater runoff pollution carries improperly disposed waste into the storm drain system and enters the ocean untreated. This pollution poses a serious problem for Santa Monica Bay, affecting humans, public health, marine life, and the water’s chemistry. Each year, 30 billion gallons of runoff flow into the Bay without treatment, making it critical for the 30,000 restaurants in the Santa Monica Bay Watershed to practice pollution prevention so that waste from their daily restaurant activities don’t wash away with this runoff.
The Bay Foundation’s Clean Bay Restaurant Program announces the participation of four new cities: Culver City, Inglewood, Palos Verdes Estates, and Rolling Hills Estates joining Malibu, Santa Monica, Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach, Torrance, and Rancho Palos Verdes in addressing stormwater pollution runoff generated by restaurants.
“Culver City is committed to working with The Bay Foundation to certify restaurants that go above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to environmental protection,” states Kaden Young, Senior Management Analyst for Culver City. “The annual inspections for CBC will be conducted simultaneously with the stormwater inspection to prevent any discharge to the storm drain system, protecting Ballona Creek, Santa Monica Bay, and the Pacific Ocean. We hope to have 100 certified restaurants by the end of the fiscal year.”
Grace Lee, TBF’s Director of Outreach Programs, states, “The average food service facility, according to the Green Restaurant Association, uses 300,000 gallons of water and generates 100,000 pounds of trash annually. When not handled properly, trash and other pollutants can get transported by runoff that ends up in the ocean. The Clean Bay Certified program’s goal is to help cities and restaurants properly manage these wastes, which directly improves the health of Santa Monica Bay.”
The restaurant industry is one of four commercial facilities regulated under the Municipal Storm Water Permitting Program. To identify restaurants that go above and beyond permit requirements for stormwater management, participating cities utilize Clean Bay Certified, which requires annual restaurant inspections. TBF recently hosted two workshops with partner cities and consultant groups to refine inspection requirements, making the program more stringent and almost doubling voluntary measures.
Clean Bay Certified restaurants must achieve 100% compliance with program criteria including: proper diversion of polluted runoff from daily maintenance practice through regular dry sweeping (not using water), a full-scale recycling program, non-use of polystyrene takeout containers, water conservation measures, and non-use of toxic cleaning products outdoors. Additionally, Clean Bay Certified restaurants must fulfill two out of twelve optional criteria such as participation in a sustainable seafood program, have a local food purchasing policy, compost food scraps, offer bike racks for employees, or provide oil and grease for biodiesel.
Roughly 415 restaurants are currently certified in the participating 11 cities – that’s over 50% of the cities located in the Santa Monica Bay Watershed. TBF hopes that with the surge of consumer interest in positive impact businesses and a letter of support from the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board, the local agency that enforces the Clean Water Act, the remaining watershed cities will jump on board.
“Making progress on an individual level on environmental issues can be challenging at times. The Clean Bay Certified program makes it easy,” notes TBF Executive Director Tom Ford. “Millions of Angelenos can use this program to frequent businesses that honor LA. These businesses have taken extra steps to ensure that your dining experience doesn’t harm the local environment. By visiting these establishments we as Angelenos can prevent millions of pounds of trash from winding up in our streets, neighborhoods, and water ways. So honor those that are honoring LA by frequenting Clean Bay Certified restaurants.”