Can rainwater capture help quench California's thirst?
When it comes to water management, California Assemblyman Jose Solorio focuses on three C's: capture, conservation and conveyance. Of those, the state has been most successful with conservation, Solorio says, but it hasn't been nearly as adept at capturing rain and snowfall and conveying it to where it needs to be.
In an effort to reduce California's demand on limited drinking-water supplies and to minimize the amount of polluted storm water that flows into the ocean, Solorio has written AB 275, also known as the Rainwater Capture Act of 2011. Introduced last week, the bill would authorize property owners to install different types of rainwater-capture devices, including rain barrels that could provide water for outdoor gardens and other systems that would allow captured water to be used indoors for non-potable uses, such as toilet flushing.
"California has traditionally relied on expensive and large public works projects to capture and store water, such as dams and groundwater basins and other forms of above-surface water-storage projects, but those projects are large and expensive," Solorio said. "It's time we start thinking about what we can individually do in our own residential properties, as well as what businesses might do, in terms of capturing water on property voluntarily."
Solorio said the primary barrier to adoption of rainwater catchment has been ambiguity and uncertainty about what is legal.
"My bill is really for individuals, as well as entrepreneurs, to show that capturing rainwater and putting it to good use is consistent with the goals of California to increase water supply and protect the environment."
AB 275 will likely be reviewed by the Assembly's Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee in April, after which it is expected to proceed to the full Legislature for a vote.
-- Susan Carpenter
Photo: A rain barrel outside a home in Sun Valley. Credit: Katie Falkenberg / For The Times