California has seen so much rain over the previous few weeks that farm fields are inundated and usually dry creeks and drainage ditches have turn out to be torrents of water racing towards the ocean. But, many of the state stays in severe drought.
All that runoff in the course of a drought begs the query—why can’t extra rainwater be collected and saved for the lengthy, dry spring and summer time when it’s wanted?
As a hydrogeologist on the College of California at Santa Cruz, I’m fascinated by what could be accomplished to gather runoff from storms like this on a big scale. There are two major sources of large-scale water storage that might assist make a dent within the drought: holding that water behind dams and placing it within the floor.
Why isn’t California capturing extra runoff now?
When California will get storms just like the atmospheric rivers that hit in December 2022 and January 2023, water managers across the state in all probability shake their heads and ask why they’ll’t maintain on to extra of that water. The truth is, it’s an advanced subject.
California has big dams and reservoirs that may retailer giant volumes of water, however they are typically within the mountains. And as soon as they’re close to capability, water needs to be launched to be prepared for the subsequent storm. Until there’s one other reservoir downstream, plenty of that water goes out to the ocean.
In additional populated areas, one of many causes storm water runoff isn’t mechanically collected to be used on a big scale is as a result of the primary runoff from roads is often contaminated. Flooding may also trigger septic system overflows. So, that water must be handled.
You would possibly say, properly, the captured water doesn’t must be consuming water, we might simply apply it to golf programs. However you then would wish a spot to retailer the water, and also you would wish a strategy to distribute it, with separate pipes and pumps, as a result of you may’t put it in the identical pipes as consuming water.