Santa Monica, CA introduces the world’s first runoff recycling facility and then, never ignoring a cross promotional opportunity, names it the SMURRF. SMURRF stands for Santa Monica Urban Runoff Recycling Facility. Its primary function is to eliminate pollution in Santa Monica Bay caused by urban runoff. The state of the art facility catches and cleans an average of 500,000 gallons of dry weather runoff caused by sprinklers, care washes, spills, pool draining, construction sites, etc.
Santa Monica Bay and many of the beaches along the California coast are plagued by urban runoff packed with biological (dog poop) and chemical (oil, sulphates) pollutants. Almost 100 million gallons of runoff travels through the storm drains of Los Angeles County daily. The SMURFF alleviates part of the problem in the Santa Monica area - skimming out garbage, oil, and trapping bacteria. The resulting recycled water is then used for landscape irrigation.
But not all is rosy in the SMURRF kingdom. To install the 12 million dollar facility Santa Monica had remove trees and other natural features which in and of themselves were filters. To memorialize the loss the city created a walkway to the beach looping around the facility decorated with bright mosaics of the trees, because nothing replaces a tree quite as effectively as a picture of a tree.
City planners also tried to turn the SMURRF into a tourist attraction, but only the most severe nerd like myself would consider it something interesting to peruse. The big concrete holding tanks are not particularly esthetically pleasing no matter how many bright tile mosaics they slap on the side.
The SMURRF is an imperfect solution to the urban runoff problem plaguing the world’s beaches, but it’s a good start. A nice first draft. Here’s hoping that the innovation doesn’t stop with this first model.