The impact of the current drought on California is significant and has focused our community on the importance of our vital water supply and the need for water use efficiency. The Crescenta Valley community’s response to the call for water conservation has been substantial, exceeding the state mandated conservation goal. This is a significant achievement as we look to the future and the need to effectively manage our local water resources. The Verdugo groundwater basin, an underground aquifer, is the primary local water supply for Crescenta Valley. Crescenta Valley Water District (CVWD) operates a system of several wells that lift the groundwater into the distribution pipelines and storage reservoirs to meet the water demands in Crescenta Valley. This local water supply is supplemented with imported water.
CVWD is planning for the future to address the challenges of sustainable groundwater supply, reliability of supplemental imported water supply, aging water system infrastructure and climate change. With groundwater levels at record lows, CVWD is evaluating several projects and initiatives to improve the long-term sustainability of our local water supply and reduce reliance on imported water. The District has an active program to improve our groundwater production capability through the activation of new and rehabilitated wells. Evaluations of projects to capture additional rainwater for percolation into the aquifer and deliver recycled water for irrigation at parks are in progress.
The Verdugo groundwater basin is replenished by rainfall, which slowly seeps through the ground refilling the aquifer. As the area has been developed, paved roads, driveways, buildings and other improvements, which are impervious to water infiltration, have reduced the natural replenishment of the aquifer. In addition, flood control improvements, designed to quickly convey storm water and protect property, have also reduced rainwater capture.
Capturing rainwater with artificial (manmade) public works projects has been done throughout history. Some of the largest projects in the country are here in Los Angeles County along the San Gabriel and Rio Hondo river channels. These projects require thousands of acres of flat land to allow the water to slow down and spread out for effective groundwater replenishment, which is in short supply in the Crescenta Valley. But CVWD has a project in development to increase rainwater capture and improve our local water supply.
A project to assess the feasibility of utilizing Crescenta Valley Park to recharge the Verdugo Basin with rainwater has been in the works for the past few years. CVWD has received state grant funding to conduct a feasibility study and technical evaluation of a project to divert runoff from the Verdugo Wash and Dunsmore flood control channels and use the park to allow the water to percolate through the soil to replenish the groundwater basin. Working with Los Angeles County Parks and Flood Control departments and other stakeholders, CVWD is proceeding with the next phase of project development that includes negotiation of institutional agreements and additional grant funding. When complete, the project will capture up to 300 acre-feet of rainwater annually increasing available local water supplies by 10%.
Crescenta Valley’s community involvement is essential in the Districts efforts to address the challenges of sustainable water supply, infrastructure for reliability, and the long-term financial stability for the future. In this regard, there are ways everyone can help with rainwater capture. What’s the best way to collect rainwater? Rainwater catchment systems can range from a couple of 55-gallon barrels at your downspouts to industrial-scale cisterns which can supply an entire building. Other ways to use rainwater, if a rain barrel is not your thing, is to install drain pipe extensions at the bottom of your downspouts to direct the rainwater to areas in your garden and away from your house. If possible, grading or sloping away from your house will enable the rain water to run down to your landscaping.
For more information on capturing and utilizing rainwater on your property, please visit www.cvwd.com for details on the upcoming rain barrel and rainwater capture event at Descanso Gardens on Sept. 18.