California drought: LA officials focus on stormwater capture projects


It seems it's feast or famine when it comes to water in the Southland. The storm earlier this month brought some much-needed relief to the dried up reservoirs.

"During the last rain storm, we were able to capture 15,000 acre-feet of water. The average household uses an acre-foot of water a year, so 15,000 households," said Edel Vizcarra, Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich's Planning and Public Works deputy.

Now that we're in the worst drought in more than a century, water officials say dams and reservoirs are more important than ever to capture the water when it does rain.

"It comes down all at once and it's very intense storms, so it's almost too much for us to absorb it. So as a result, we need to let it percolate slowly into the soil and then replenish our aquifers," said Richard Atwater executive director of the Southern California Water Committee.

Supervisor Antonovich on Tuesday introduced a motion that passed through the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to build more stormwater capture projects and to accelerate the permitting process for construction of new projects.

In Devil's Gate Dam in Altadena, which was dry just weeks ago, there's now water that can be used locally.

Most of our water is imported from the Colorado River or up north, which is a very expensive process. The dam in Altadena and other projects along the foothills capture water and separate the sediment so the water can be used.

"Instead of it making its way into the flood control system or into streets and into the drains and going into the ocean, it's captured up there and stored for local consumption," said Vizcarra.

Officials say individuals need to do their part, too. Many Southern California cities are asking residents to cut their water consumption by at least 20 percent.

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