California’s Rainwater Collection Plans Are Not Going Well

Following a series of storms and a forthcoming blizzard, California’s taxpayer-funded efforts to capture rainwater are underwhelming

Los Angeles voters approved the Safe Clean Water Act, a tax that sets aside $280 million a year for water-collecting projects, back in 2018; according to Los Angeles Waterkeeper, locals have not been acting quickly enough to spare California hundreds of billions of gallons of runoff.

While many believe that California’s recent onslaught of wet weather is a sign that the drought may soon be a thing of the past, experts say that assumption is far from reality. In the four years since the Safe Clean Water Act passed, Los Angeles Waterkeeper reported that only 30 acres of green space had been added to deal with an estimated 100 billion gallons of runoff lost to the ocean yearly.

“It’s discouraging to see the runoff,” Bruc Reznik, executive director of Waterkeeper told KTLA. “When it storms in L.A., 85 to 95% of that goes into the river and into the ocean.”

The effort to gather rainwater is up against a climate that is trending toward long-term heat and dryness, snowpack melting earlier each year, while municipalities face decreased access to water resources such as the Colorado river, according to the Los Angeles Times. Bizarre climate extremes are also making matters worse for officials who now need to focus on preparing for a freak winter storm.

Though the state’s rainy season typically lasts until April, there is very little that can be done to preserve the runoff from the rare coming storm—and the state is not prepared to gather runoff from future storms, either.

“We have been working day in and day out to adjust to a changing reality,” said California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot. “We know that extreme weather is getting more extreme as a result of climate change. In October, we finished one of the driest three-year periods in our state’s history, and then just last month, we experienced what is probably the wettest three weeks in our history.”

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