Vehicles splash up water during heavy rains from Tropical Storm Hilary, in south Los Angeles on Aug. 20, 2023. (Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images)
The City of Los Angeles captured enough stormwater from Tropical Storm Hilary
last month to serve 50,000 households for one year, but the storm moved through Southern California too fast to increase the state’s water supplies, according to local and state water agencies.
“While recent tropical storm of Hurricane Hilary was fast moving and dropped a lot of rain in a short period of time, it traveled too quickly to recharge groundwater aquifers and did not fall over any major reservoirs to significantly increase supplies,” Akiela Moses, spokeswoman for the California Department of Water Resources, told The Epoch Times.
Hilary was the first tropical storm to hit Southern California in 84 years and broke all daily rainfall records in the region, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Downtown Los Angeles received nearly 2.5 inches during the storm, while Palmdale got nearly 4 inches and Lancaster recorded about 3.6 inches, the administration reported
Orange and San Diego counties received 1.5 to 3 inches of rain. Further inland, Palm Springs recorded 3.23 inches.
“There were some pockets of heavier rain,” administration Meteorologist Elizabeth Adams told The Epoch Times. “It kind of depends where you were.”
An entrance to southbound Interstate 5 is blocked due to flooding as tropical storm Hilary moves through the area in Sun Valley, Calif., on Aug. 20, 2023. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Despite missing out on the deluge of water dumped throughout the southern region Aug. 20, statewide reservoirs are filled to 130 percent above-average levels for this time this year after winter storms delivered much-needed rain and snow across the Golden State.
Overall, California has received nearly 145 percent more moisture this year, according to the California Water Watch
, a state website that provides water storage data.
Groundwater, which accounts for about 60 percent of the state’s water supply during dry spells, will take longer to recover following two years of drought in California, Ms. Moses said. More than 40 percent of the state’s groundwater wells remain below normal levels, the state reported Sept. 7.
The City of Los Angeles was able to capitalize on Hilary. An expansion of a stormwater capture facility allowed the city to collect nearly 12,200 acre-feet of stormwater during the downpour, or enough to meet the yearly water needs of nearly 50,000 households, according to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.
An acre-foot of water equals about 326,000 gallons, or about half the volume of an Olympic-size swimming pool.
“We were able to capture more water due to the expansion of one of our stormwater capture facilities at Tujunga Spreading Grounds,” department spokeswoman Mia Rose Wong told The Epoch Times.
The city has invested more than $130 million in stormwater capture infrastructure and has built over 20 such projects from small street capture systems to dam improvements, according to a LADWP news release
from January. It completed the 150-acre Tujunga Spreading Grounds
project in Sun Valley, California, last year.
The project, funded by the LADWP and Los Angeles County’s Flood Control District, is a facility that retains surface water long enough for it to percolate into the soil and recharge groundwater supplies in the San Fernando Groundwater Basin.
California Out of Drought
The abundance of moisture this year has pulled California out of a nearly three-year dry spell as the state endured some of the driest years
The state is nearly completely drought-free, according to a Sept. 7 report by U.S. Drought Monitor, a weekly update
of national drought conditions. About 94 percent of the state is no longer considered in drought.
A map shows California’s drought conditions on Sept. 5, 2023. (Courtesy of the U.S. Drought Monitor)
A small slice of eastern Riverside and San Bernardino counties, at the Arizona border, remained abnormally dry. The small northern counties of Del Norte and Siskiyou, and a small region of Modoc County, all on the Oregon border, were also experiencing mostly abnormally dry conditions.
In the western U.S., two other states—Nevada and Wyoming—were also mostly out of drought conditions. Nevada was more than 94 percent drought-free, and Wyoming was 100 percent without drought, according to the latest map.