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California Lawmakers Will Examine Ways To Capture Stormwater

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio
 

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Recycling stormwater runoff could help provide more water during the drought. 

Democratic Senator Bob Hertzberg says he believes such projects are more affordable than importing water from state and federal water projects.

“We spend so much money and have such environmental impact by moving water around the state, when right in front of our noses there’s a lot of opportunity to capture it," says Hertzberg.  "So we’re looking at best practices and trying to figure out new policies we can develop to make that happen,” he says.

But building and paying for recovery projects isn’t always easy. Ellen Hanak with the Public Policy Institute of California says cities that have to treat polluted stormwater and agencies that supply water often don’t work together. She says it’s also not easy to get the financing.

“If you want to raise money for your stormwater pollution program, you have to go to the voters and get approval of any fees that you’re going to raise for that purpose," says Hanak. "In many cases you have to get a two-thirds approval, so that’s a very high hurdle,” she says.

Hanak and other water policy experts will testify at the hearing. California’s water bond provides some money to manage and capture stormwater. But some lawmakers say it’s not enough to meet the state’s needs.