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Los Angeles Captured More Than 96 Billion Gallons of Stormwater in Recent Months of Heavy Rain, Officials Announce

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Aerial photo of water flowing down the Los Angeles River amid a break in heavy atmospheric rain with a view of the North Atwater Bridge linking Atwater Village with Griffith Park, with a view of the downtown Los Angeles skyline in the distance

Water flows down the Los Angeles River and under the North Atwater Bridge amid a break in heavy atmospheric rain on Feb. 7, 2024. Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images



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Following several months of long and heavy rain, officials in Los Angeles have announced that the amount of stormwater captured from October 2023 through April 2024 is an estimated 96.3 billion gallons.

As the Los Angeles Times reported, the amount of stormwater captured in late 2023 through spring 2024 is enough to meet water demands of about 2.4 million people, about 25% of the county.

In February 2024 alone, the city captured 5 billion more gallons of stormwater compared to the previous year, according to Mayor Karen Bass. The total captured stormwater for that month reached 13.5 billion gallons. 

In a regular year, the city captures an average of 8.8 billion gallons of stormwater, the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power reported. In the past year, stormwater capture has reached about 204 billion gallons, enough to supply water to about 5 million people, according to Water for LA, a county program.

The county had a particularly rainy winter and early spring, reaching the wettest day in over 20 years on Feb. 4, 2024, and February was the seventh-wettest month for Los Angeles in its recorded history, The New York Times reported. By April, Los Angeles had experienced more rainfall than infamously rainy Seattle.

Without proper stormwater management infrastructure, rainfall flows into storm drains, carrying pollution from the city with it, where it eventually is released into local waterways and the Pacific Ocean untreated.

The recent increase in stormwater capture can be linked to infrastructure projects designed to save more stormwater during the region’s recent wet winters. The county has put about $1 billion in investments into stormwater capture and storage projects since 2001, the Los Angeles Times reported. As of December 2023, Los Angeles county had established 126 stormwater management infrastructure projects, NBC4 reported.

Los Angeles recently established the L.A. County Water Plan, adopted by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors in December 2023. This plan is set to increase the local water supply by 162 billion gallons by 2045 and ultimately meet 80% of the county’s water demand. Currently, about two-thirds of the area’s water is imported from areas like Northern California or the Colorado River.

With improved stormwater capture management infrastructure and programs, the county is making progress toward its goal to source more water locally to meet demand.

“We know with weather volatility, we have to save every drop of water that we can. So this has to continue to be a trend that we invest in,” Lindsey Horvath, chair of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, told the Los Angeles Times. “The more we see investment in infrastructure, the more we’re going to be able to capture and make a difference, and keep that water resource local.”

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