New LA County project will help collect, keep more water after big storms

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Thursday, February 23, 2023
LA county new project will help capture stormwater
The Adventure Park project in Whittier will help Los Angeles County collect and keep more water after big storms.

WHITTIER, Calif. (KABC) -- After another big storm this week we will see much of the rainwater flowing out to the ocean instead of being captured for use.

Los Angeles County officials say saving more of this water will be key for dealing with drought.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn says "There are years when we don't see the rain but when we do, we should keep our own water and we should storage, clean it, and then ultimately reuse it."

Wednesday, the county broke ground on a new project at Adventure Park in Whittier. It is building a 6-million gallon underground storage system that will capture stormwater.

Los Angeles County Department of Public Works director Mark Pestrella says "We open up the ground and actually put the water into the ground and let it soak into the ground before it ends up in the San Gabriel, or LA River system, and off to the ocean."

The county has been working for decades to capture stormwater. The San Gabriel River has a series of rubber dams that can be inflated when needed to hold the water. The water is then released slowly where it seeps into the ground.

With projects like this one the county says in the next five years it will capture 18 billion gallons of water. That's enough for 500,000 people for a year.

"In this watershed, the San Gabriel River watershed, we capture right now about 90% of the rain that falls in the mountains. We capture that in the system of dams and rivers... this reduces our reliance on the Colorado River, which many people know it's actually drying up, to reduce our reliance on Northern California water, which is still a problem and is not reliable," says Pestrella.

The project will also provide enhancements to the park with new walking paths, a sports field and restrooms. Officials feel this will be a win-win as people can enjoy facilities above ground while valuable water will be stored underground.