Know Your H20, Low Impact Development, Water Recycling
April 26 2013

The Potential of Stormwater

by Julia Chunn-Heer

It’s a basic idea: When it rains, we need to be able to capture that water, store it and then use it later.  Today, about half the water from rain that could be used to replenish groundwater basins and increase local water supplies ends up turning into polluted stormwater runoff. 

In our developed urban environment stormwater (water from a rain event) can’t infiltrate through the proliferation of pavement. The water has no place to go, except down our concrete driveways, to the paved roads and ultimately to the creeks, rivers and ocean as polluted runoff with all the toxins it picks up along the way.

In this semi-arid region we need to be smarter about our water management practices. Stormwater is not a nuisance to be rushed off the land as quickly as possible; it is a precious resource that should be harvested and used efficiently.

Captured stormwater can recharge local water supplies, replenish ground water, or irrigate landscapes. Currently, about 10% of Southern California’s water supply comes from stormwater. That is great, but we need to do better! No matter the scale of capture, whether in the form of a rain barrel or reservoir augmentation, we need it all! Water is too precious to waste!


Furthermore, Southern California is no stranger to water pollution. Expanded stormwater capture and reuse would not only augment local water supplies, but would also drastically reduce urban runoff, the largest source of ocean pollution. Stormwater capture and reuse truly is a win-win solution.

The Southern California Water Committee (SCWC) recently launched “Pump Up The Volume” a stormwater education program, sponsored by the California Water Foundation, to help raise awareness and educate the public about this important local water supply source. Please visit SCWC’s “Pump Up The Volume” webpage for more information.