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West Can Help Meet Its Water Needs With Low Impact Development Approach
Implementing rainwater capture and infiltration techniques through “low impact development” at new and redeveloped residential and commercial properties in California and the West can generate billions of gallons of water supplies annually and reduce energy use and pollution, according to a report by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and University of California, Santa Barbara’s Donald Bren School of Environmental Science and Management (UCSB).
The report highlights low impact development, or LID, as a land planning and engineering design approach for stormwater management. The study found that implementing LID practices that emphasize capture and infiltration at new and redeveloped residential and commercial properties in the urbanized areas of Southern California and portions of the San Francisco Bay Area has the potential to increase local water supplies by up to 405,000 acre-feet of water per year by 2030—an amount roughly equivalent to two-thirds of the water used by the entire City of Los Angeles each year.
LID uses practices such as permeable pavement to infiltrate rainwater into the earth and recharge groundwater supplies. It also uses cisterns and rain barrels to capture rainwater for use where it falls. This reduces runoff, while at the same time collecting clean water that can be used to meet water supply needs.
The report found that 1,225,500 megawatt hours of electricity savings can be achieved each year through use of LID practices in California, representing enough energy to power more than 102,000 single-family homes for one full year.
The LID report found that reducing imported water from location-inefficient sources in Northern California or from energy intensive sources such as ocean desalination could prevent as much as 535,500 metric tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere annually, the equivalent of taking more than 97,000 cars off the road each year.