When we talk about capturing “wasted” water for use – stormwater, sewage treatment plant effluent – it’s important to think about where that water is going now, before we start capturing it.
Often, it’s into a river. So capturing it and putting it to use for some human purpose is depriving the river of that water.
A new report from the University of California, Los Angeles Grand Challenges program puts the conflict in stark terms: if all the currently envisaged stormwater capture and groundwater recharge projects go ahead, the L.A. river will be completely dried up, leaving no water for wildlife and recreation.
As Matt’s story points out, this doesn’t mean don’t do it. It just means being mindful of the tradeoffs.