Can Stormwater Save California?
Jack and Jill went up the hill
To fetch a pail of water.
Jack fell down and broke his crown,
And Jill came tumbling after.
Up Jack got, and home did trot,
As fast as he could caper,
He went to bed to mend his head,
With vinegar and brown paper.
Remember the fun nursery rhyme? Me too. It does leave some questions unanswered though. Did Jill make it out alright? Did Jack just abandon her on the hill? After all, she did come tumbling after. Did they have a mother that would have asked the necessary question, Where’s Jill, and what on Earth did you do to your crown?!?!?
Maybe I’m overthinking it, but for now, I want to answer the question nobody (and everybody in California) is asking.
What if Jack and Jill never had to go up the hill to grab the pail of water?
See, in my mind’s eye, Jack and Jill were in pursuit of clean water because it wasn’t available elsewhere.
I hope you can see some of the similarities by now between the nursery rhyme and California’s drought situation.
The picture at the beginning of this article is taken from the United States Drought Monitor website. You can access it by following this link:
As of this week’s records, after coming out of the winter period, more than 65% of California is in varying stages of drought. Believe it or not, this is actually a low number. According to the site’s chart, last year that number was at 81%.
Numbers like this beg the question: what can/should be done.
Most people see two different options. Desalination and rainwater harvesting. Desalination is a great option when it comes to creating freshwater. But I see the advantage of stormwater harvesting as an opportunity to collect freshwater instead of creating it.
Stormwater harvesting is how we can reuse stormwater and rainwater by collecting/accumulating then treating/purifying so we can store it and eventually reuse it.
I don’t want to be ignorant and assume the only way to combat California dry seasons is with rainwater and stormwater. There are multitudes of issues surrounding water supply in California.
But that’s not to say stormwater can’t help. One misconception about California is “It never rains.” That’s not true. It does rain, just super sporadically.
In LA, there have been 5.95 inches of rain in January 2019 alone. If we take that all to be snowfall (the lowest estimate possible), at 1 inch which is 2,715 gallons of water per acre, there are 12,696.23 gallons of potential freshwater per acre of LA that we could be using from the month of January.
Assuming I did my math right, (I’ve linked the sites below so you can double-check my work), there is a ton of water “going down the drain.” California has been making some big strides in terms of gathering stormwater and rainfall to preserve water. With things like permeable development and catch rain basins, there are many things California is doing right.
But I think there is always something more we can be doing to help our planet. Anybody who watched Blue Planet II on Netflix (every water nerd should), knows our planet’s oceans are suffering more in the last 30 years than they have in the last millennia.
If I could ask anything of my readers, it would be to consider what water impact you are having and what can you be doing better.
Check my work!