El Niño: Collecting Rain Water

If, as is being predicted, we get a lot of rain from the current El Niño condition, how much can we capture and reuse? How much may go out into the ocean? Local officials are hopeful they can save a lot with the help of spreading grounds.

Los Angeles County has 27 spreading grounds able to capture a tremendous amount of water. The one in Pacoima, for instance, has 12 catch basins and can handle about 7000 football fields worth of water in any given year. That’s 2.2 billion gallons of water flooding into the grassy fields of the Pacoima spreading grounds annually.

As the water falls, it percolates underground recharging the aquifers and create enough water for 55,000 people in the San Fernando Valley.”

Kerjon Lee, with the LA County Department of Public Works says, “In the past ten years we’re capturing about 6.5 billion more gallons than we were 10 years ago. So, we’ve invested in this system. We’ve partnered with other agencies to expand what we can capture and what we can use.”

That includes a joint city-county project to use large sisterns at ten private homes. They would be used to collect water that can for things like landscaping.

Steven Frasher, with LA County DPW says, rain barrels are a way anyone can collect water. Some communities even offer rebates for them.  

Says Frasher, “individual households doing their part actually makes a big difference in maintaining the water that we do receive from the sky.”

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