Los Angeles Eyes ‘Green Alleys’ To Combat Drought

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Craig Boudreau Vice Reporter
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California will create ‘green alleys’ to capture rainwater in an effort to ease the Golden State’s water issues and combat several years of severe drought.

Los Angeles has 900 miles of alleys, none of which do anything to capture rainwater. No the city wants to pave the alleys in a permeable material that would allow water to seep through and into underground water storage tanks, reports The New York Times. The tanks would prevent the water from reaching sewers and concrete riverbeds that would pollute the water.

The green alleys will work in conjunction with a larger project aimed at capturing as much rainwater as possible. California currently captures 8.8 billion gallons of rainwater a year, the state hopes to bump that up to 50 billion gallons by 2050.

Heather Repenning, a commissioner of the city’s Board of Public Works, sees other green alley projects, like the one in Chicago, and thinks California stands to benefit even more than they do.

“In my mind, the green alley project has a much greater value in Los Angeles than it does in other places that don’t have a water shortage,” Repenning told The New York Times.

California is currently in the fifth year of drought, and while drought is not uncommon to the southwest United States, the state is struggling to meet its resident’s water needs.

California currently imports a staggering 85% of its water, Repenning wants to see that number cut in half by 2025 and hopes California can start to utilize the water it gets via nature.

“Part of that is using the water that we have — storm water and wastewater,” Repenning told The New York Times Tuesday.

There is currently work underway on one green alley, it is hoped that the alley will capture 700,000 gallons of water a year. Another was finished in 2015 and in its first year of operation, captured more than 750,000 gallons of water. At the projects completion there will be at least five green alleys.

The city also plans on using ‘high albedo pavement‘. The pavement would be made in such a way so as to reflect some of the Sun’s heat back into space, helping to cut down on what’s known as the ‘urban heat island‘ effect. Urban heat islands exist where large numbers of people live in a relatively small area, which makes the temperature warmer in those condensed areas than surrounding rural areas.

Chicago, which has their own green alley system in the more than 1,900 miles of alleys they have, started their green alley project in 2006 and now has more than 100 of the eco-conscious alleys.

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Craig Boudreau