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Capturing stormwater, capturing jobs

December 17, 2014 / By Patrick Burns

2011_Water_Use_Efficiency_and_Jobs_img_01Recent rains in Southern California are a welcome change amid the ongoing drought affecting the region.  Each week sees a little more rainfall, sometimes in brief torrents that wake you at night, and others in slow, steady drizzle that last all day.  A challenge for the state — and for water-guzzling Los Angeles in particular — is to capture and store that water today for use during the dry days, weeks and months ahead.

An article from Pasadena’s KPCC 89.3 FM News, “Drought: 4 things Southern California is doing to capture stormwater, and 1 we’re not,” highlights the challenges the region must meet: “Billions of gallons of water have fallen on Los Angeles County since last week. And much of that kept right on going — out into storm drains, lost to the sea. Couldn’t we actually use that water?

The good news is, despite the sizable initial costs of building up the regions’ the infrastructure to capture, store and re-use stormwater — ideally through “networked water storage [that] would rely on technology like microchips to manage water stored diffusely, in multiple locations, over a large area of land” — such investments also boost the local economy.  Stormwater infrastructure projects initially support significant engineering, construction and landscaping jobs, plus some ongoing operations and maintenance jobs.  Such projects also stimulate demand for “upstream” suppliers whose goods and services are needed for the construction of stormwater infrastructure.  All of these added direct and indirect jobs also translate into increased household spending, when workers take home their paychecks and shop at local grocery store, pay the rent, and take their children to the doctor.  For every $1 million dollars invested, stormwater projects support 13.1 person-years of employment, with average annual wages of $52,828.

For more information about the economic benefits of capturing stormwater, read the Economic Roundtable report Water Use Efficiency and Jobs