It just rained, and once again we threw away billions of gallons of water
Los Angeles receives enough rainfall in a normal year to supply at least half its needs... if it was harvested, and managed well. But the rain that falls here, instead of soaking into the land, rushes off because we covered the city with concrete, roads, houses and parking lots. Therefore we spend billions of dollars to bring water in from distant regions and distribute it throughout the city, and we spend hundreds of millions more getting rid of the rainfall that lands here in order to prevent flooding.
The statement I make above is excerpted from the this video by the Media & Policy Center, a companion piece to their recent PBS Edens Lost and Found series.
It's all about connecting the dots...or drops.
Sustainability is not a far-off unattainable goal; it's a practical way to solve more than one problem at once. Harvesting rainfall and storing it, instead of rushing it through our streets to the sea, is a good example. Saving this rainwater is not just economical, it's a matter of energy savings, health, safety, climate and emergency preparedness, clean oceans, justice, jobs and equity.
And I'm happy to say the state of California just took a major stride toward this goal this week when Governor Schwarzenegger signed into law new legislation, authored by Senator Fran Pavely and sponsored by TreePeople, that encourages and supports cities in planning to harvest rain (stormwater).
This bill, SB 790, offers state grants of up to $5 million to encourage cities and non-profit water agencies to design projects that will minimize pollution, capture rainwater, and encourage low-impact development.
With the majority of LA's water imported from increasingly insecure sources that are hundreds of miles away, capturing and using the water that falls here naturally makes the most sense of all.
And if we actively retrofit existing properties throughout the city, this may be the fastest way to secure and ensure our water supply.
As our grandparents liked to say: Waste not, want not.