Pilot program expands Metropolitan’s look at local stormwater as a water supply

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is expanding its effort to learn more about the water supply potential of local stormwater capture with a new $7.5 million pilot program approved today by its board of directors.
By funding construction of new stormwater projects and installation of monitoring equipment on existing ones, the program will gather data on the amount of water produced by projects that capture local rainfall and stormwater runoff and use it to recharge groundwater basins in the region.
“This could mark the beginning of a host of new local supply opportunities for Metropolitan and our member agencies,” board Chairwoman Gloria Gray said. “Metropolitan is always exploring new, better and more efficient ways to maintain reliability for Southern California, so we are excited to find out just how much potential there is for stormwater capture.”
Information on the costs and volume of water produced by different types of projects, such as spreading basins and dry wells, will be collected over three years. The data will help guide future decisions on the possible funding of stormwater capture projects, explained Metropolitan General Manager Jeffrey Kightlinger.
“Before Metropolitan can consider investing in local recharge projects, we need a much better understanding of how much water they actually yield, and at what cost. There’s a lot of expectations out there, but we don’t know how much of the captured stormwater water can actually be pumped up and used,” he said.
The new pilot comes on the heels of a similar $5 million pilot program approved by the board in September that also aims to provide vital data on the most cost efficient and cost effective methods to capture and use stormwater runoff. That pilot focuses instead on direct-use projects, which capture stormwater in cisterns or underground collection systems and use it on-site for nonpotable purposes like irrigation.
The programs could open a new door for Metropolitan’s investment in local resources and long-standing effort to diversify the region’s water supply portfolio. Metropolitan has since 1990 provided more than $500 million in incentives for the development of local supply projects – largely groundwater recovery and recycled water projects – through its Local Resource Program. But the program has never funded a local stormwater capture project, due in part to the lack of data on the volume of water actually produced by such projects.
Through the recharge pilot program, projects will measure how much stormwater they capture, demonstrate how the water recharges the groundwater basin and identify how much additional water the basin produces as a result of the recharge. Projects can be located at public and private, non-residential sites.
The pilot program will fund up to $1 million in costs for new projects, including construction, installation of monitoring equipment and production of monitoring reports. Existing projects will receive up to $500,000 for installation of monitoring equipment and production of monitoring reports.
The program will fund up to 10 new and retrofitted projects across Metropolitan’s service area and the region’s groundwater basins. Metropolitan will begin accepting applications March 1, with projects accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. 
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is a state-established cooperative that delivers water to 26 member agencies serving 19 million people in six counties. The district imports water from the Colorado River and Northern California to supplement local supplies, and helps develop increased water conservation, recycling, storage and other resource-management programs.