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The Changing Paradigm of Stormwater Management
Chris Austin, otherwise known as the Maven of California water news, shares a presentation from Dr. Richard Luthy, a professor of civil and environmental engineering and the director of the National Science Foundation’s Engineering Research Center, describing the evolution of stormwater infrastructure.
According to Luthy, a shift away from stormwater management as flood control would bring multiple benefits. Not only would urban areas like Los Angeles gain critical water supply for a growing population, "it would provide other community benefits, like cleaning the beaches."
Luthy is building on existing plans by the city of Los Angeles to cut the amount of water supply it imports by half:
How is that achieved? One of the solutions is stormwater capture, and on this drawing, it says the stormwater would be 4% of the urban water supply, and in a moment I’ll show you that it could really be much more than that. It could be 3, 4, maybe even 5 times that if plans come into being in this century.”
In addition to an appeal to use bigger systems to achieve more ambitious goals, Luthy also shows how stormwater capture infrastructure can become open space and recreation facilities during dry seasons (e.g., hiking trails, basketball courts, and playfields). Finally, Luthy detailed the processes that would be necessary to treat stormwater runoff that could potentially be contaminated with pathogens, organics, and nitrates.
Renderings, schematics, and other infographics drawn directly from Luthy's presentation supplement the article.