LOS ANGELES (KABC) — Southern California has seen a torrent of rain in recent weeks — as much rain as the region normally receives in an entire season.
As climate change changes, experts say we will see more unusual weather.
“We’re going to be in times of extreme drought for years and then times like this where there’s extreme rainfall,” said Los Angeles County Sustainability Officer Rita Kampalath.
The storms brought five times more rain than usual in some areas of the county. A new study by the journal Nature Climate Change says the entire western US could see a 31% increase in rainfall in the future.
LA County has been working to capture much of this water for decades. The San Gabriel River has a series of dams known as the Valley Rubber Dams. They can be inflated when needed to hold the water and then it will slowly release.
But since we developed and paved cities, it’s harder for the water to get into the ground. Engineers are working to change this by returning to areas that are more open.
“This is infrastructure that people wouldn’t normally see, so we’re trying to use large sites that are strategically placed where we know water will accumulate, so even sites like parks or sports fields are downgraded to do so Rainwater collects in these areas and then seeps into the ground.”
Approximately 98% of the San Gabriel River’s stormwater runoff has been captured, totaling more than 33 billion gallons. That’s enough water to feed 816,000 people for a year.
Our water system was designed decades ago to bring water from Northern California and other areas. Officials said it needs to change to catch more water on site.
“That’s why we had to introduce these water restrictions,” Kampalath said. “This is not the future we want to live in, where we have to constantly prepare for an emergency.”
County officials said they have new projects in Ballona Creek and Wilmington that would capture about 18 billion gallons of water that could feed half a million people.