The SMC was established in 2001 as a research and monitoring collaboration of major southern California stormwater management agencies working toward regional solutions for protecting and improving runoff water quality. The origins of the SMC can be traced back to the 1990s-era introduction of modern federal regulatory frameworks for stormwater management. In 1990, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency began rolling out an updated National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting program that created many of the hallmarks of modern stormwater management, including prescriptive monitoring requirements, effluent limitations and TMDLs (total maximum daily loads) to enforce limits on pollution levels. In response, municipalities across the nation, including in southern California, began making significant investments in stormwater management to comply with the new NPDES requirements. Recognizing that they could more efficiently build and expand their stormwater programs by working together, southern California municipalities decided to pool their expertise and resources to form the SMC.

The SMC was formed through a cooperative agreement known as the SMC Master Agreement, which calls for SMC member agencies to voluntarily fund only the projects that the SMC Steering Committee has agreed to fund for a given fiscal year. To ensure the SMC includes the perspectives and priorities of the regulatory agencies that oversee the activities of the dischargers, the SMC also invited three of California’s Regional Water Quality Control Boards to become founding members of the organization.

Initially, the SMC focused on helping its member agencies to build robust stormwater monitoring programs – hence, the word “monitoring” appears in the name of the organization – although the SMC has always been committed to developing a robust, diverse project portfolio. Today, there are 16 member agencies, each represented by one Lead Representative and one Alternate Representative that serve on the SMC Steering Committee. The SMC’s forward-looking, regionally focused project portfolio is centered around investigating stormwater mechanisms, the condition of receiving waters, and solutions for improving and protecting regional stormwater quality.

History of SMC membership

The SMC’s founding members in 2001 – all of whom remain member agencies to this day – are:

  • County of Los Angeles
  • County of Orange
  • County of Riverside
  • County of San Diego
  • County of San Bernardino
  • County of Ventura
  • City of Long Beach
  • Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board
  • San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board
  • Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board
  • Southern California Coastal Water Research Project (SCCWRP)

When the SMC’s first five-year Master Agreement came up for renewal in 2006, three additional member agencies joined the SMC:

  • City of Los Angeles
  • California Department of Transportation (Caltrans)
  • State Water Resources Control Board

Subsequently, the City of San Diego and the EPA Office of Research and Development (collaborating organization) joined, bringing the SMC to its present size of 16 members.