Water Environment Federation (WEF)

How a LEED Platinum Building is Cleaning up Inland Empire Urban Runoff

In 2002, the Inland Empire Utility Agency (IEUA) – a municipal water agency in western San Bernardino County - designed and constructed its new Headquarters with the goal of attaining the first 2.0 platinum level “LEED” - Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design - rating established by the U. S. Green Building Council.”

IEUA has implemented a BMP project that truly showcases the beauty of “going back to the basics” in their creative stormwater management program. By integrating site design, source control, and treatment BMP’s into the headquarters facility, pollutants in the project have resulted in runoff reduction and treatment, and removal of stormwater runoff, particularly 85% to 99% of the total coliform that would traditionally contribute to the pathogen contaminants loading in Chino Creek which is currently listed on the 303d list for pathogens.

Chino Creek is an important tributary to the Prado wetlands, located only a few miles away. From Prado wetlands, the water either infiltrates or discharges into the Santa Ana River, which continues down to the Pacific Ocean. This project illustrates how and why it is critical to encourage stormwater treatment BMPs, including wetlands and riparian habitat, further up in the watersheds, and that these projects have direct impacts in protecting coastal resources.

The Inland Empire Utilities Agency (IEUA/Agency), former Chino Basin Municipal District (CBMWD), was formed in 1950 to supply supplemental water to the Inland Empire. The IEUA’s 242 square mile service mile area is located in the southwest corner of San Bernardino County, approximately 35 miles east of Los Angeles (See Figure 1), and provides regional wastewater service and imported water deliveries to eight contracting agencies which include the City of Chino, City of Chino Hills, Cucamonga Valley Water District, City of Rancho Cucamonga, City of Fontana, City of Upland, City of Montclair and City of Ontario.

IEUA’s service area is one of the fastest growing areas in the US. With approximately 750,000 residents and is expected to double by 2030. Much of the growth is spurred by the selling of dairy and agricultural land for residential, commercial and industrial development.

With all of the development comes impervious landscapes, increased stormwater flows, and water quality degradation. IEUA is providing leadership in the region for stormwater BMPs through the design and construction of its unique Headquarters (HQ) site.

In 2004, IEUA’s New HQ facility received the US Green Building Council’s highest ranking for a green building: Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (L.E.E.D.) Platinum. IEUA was the first public utility in the world and at the time the building was the largest LEED Platinum facility. The specific economic and environmental benefits from the stormwater BMPs that this facility has on site is just beginning to be realized. Capital costs alone have saved local taxpayers over $1.4 million associated with stormwater facilities.

IEUA’s commitment is to promote and educate water conservation, water recycling, groundwater management, renewable energy, energy conservation, and overall environmental stewardship in partnership with the communities we serve. Leading by example, the Board approved the use of the LEED design criteria for this facility to showcase how an integrated, sustainably-designed building can create a better environment, conserve energy, improve productivity, and contribute to the restoration of historic landscapes.

With over eight site and source BMPs, the grounds and parking lot serve as a regional BMP demonstration site where local cities send their developers, contractors, and consultants to walk around, take notes, and observe. It is a site with multiple stormwater BMPs and is an example that can be replicated in other places. Regional Cities have found that if developers say they cannot cost-effectively implement their stormwater BMPs, they tell them to visit the IEUA HQ.

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