When it rains in our drought-ridden area, it feels like a miracle from above, heaven-sent water. So shouldn't we be using it?
Here are five things to know:
- Los Angeles County loses more than 100 billion gallons of rainwater — basically the equivalent of a thousand million swimming pools times 100, the length of a football field that are 10 feet deep. Now that's a lot of water!
- If you can't contain the rainwater, you get flooding, which happened in the 1930s. So the LA River was built, a giant, concrete gully that stretches 51 miles from the San Fernando Valley to Long Beach and out into the Pacific Ocean.
- A lot of the rainwater is "runoff," meaning that it comes after traveling over many surfaces, washing with it pollutants, vehicle fluids, fecal matter, fertilizers, pesticides, heavy metals and even trash. It's not exactly the most drinkable stuff.
- Many parks around LA have water storage systems hidden away underneath. For instance, in Santa Monica, a public library has a 200,000-gallon cistern that grabs the water runoff from its roof, thereby cutting down on the amount of water flowing over the ground and into the sea. The water is stored to be used to irrigate the garden areas and landscape around the library. Genius!
- In the future, a Frank Gehry-inspired new master plan to turn the LA River into a series of sustainable parks could be amazing and also incorporate wastewater recycling, "from toilet to tap" and other clever ideas. Nearly 50% of Orange County's water supply is recycled, and in LA County, only 2%. Soon they'll begin to increase their supply this way too.
The Metropolitan Water District Of Southern California has a new general manager who wants to shift his agency's focus onto more recycling of sewage water, cleaning up groundwater aquifers and capturing even more rainwater. There's every chance that in the future, when it rains in LA County, we'll capture a great deal of nature's bounty to use for ourselves.