Southern California

Runoff Water Could Help Drought Concerns

city and state officials are looking for ways to capture runoff water before it flows into the ocean as drought continues.

Maybe you've seen the streams of water, flowing through LA’s storm channels and flood drains - all that water headed to the ocean, despite the historic drought.

Now, city and state officials are looking for ways to capture that runoff water.

“We're probably talking about well over a hundred million gallons a day,” Mark Gold, of UCLA’s Institute of Environment and Sustainability.

Gold’s UCLA think-tank studies water use in urban environments worldwide, and he said that runoff water, usually ignored in wet years, could potentially be used to alleviate the drought impact across Southern California.

“The water that we see in the LA River or the San Gabriel River, 365 days a year? That's 'dry weather runoff,'” Gold said.

It comes from over-irrigation, from small lawns to huge golf courses and parks. Ground water retention areas also feed the channels. It also comes from construction sites, and even sewage treatment facilities.

“A lot of that water is not being recycled - although it should be - and it ends up getting discharged in the LA River, where it goes all the way to Long Beach and the Queen Mary,” he said.

But that may be about to change. City officials and others are trying to figure out how to capture that water and put it to use in, potentially, hundreds of thousands of homes.

A bill signed into law by governor brown a couple of weeks ago mandates that water agencies work such projects into all future plans.

Gold says the city of LA is moving forward, but lags behind many of its county neighbors.

“They're planning on it. It's just, they have a lot to catch up,” he said.

Contact Us