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Fluxmuster t1_j5p92ss wrote

I'm a civil engineer in CA working mostly in stormwater retention facility design. When building a new development or redeveloping in most areas of California, you have to prove that it is infeasible to infiltrate the full volume of the 85th percentile storm on site before you can consider any other methods of stormwater treatment. Onsite storm water infiltration is already a huge thing in California.


CrankyStinkman t1_j5pmqc9 wrote

China figured it out 1500 years ago with their monsoon flooding. Fuck tons of canals.


MrMissus t1_j5pyqn9 wrote

I'm pretty sure Chinese cities have catastrophic flooding happen to them all the time because of a significant lack of infrastructure.


CrankyStinkman t1_j5q7peo wrote

Yeah, I don’t think that those canals were maintained and expanded across multiple regime changes.


tankerdudeucsc t1_j5q9cfo wrote

Well the most famous one was the dam that they built. 3 gorges dam that helped with the Yangtze River problems.

So maybe not 1500 years but they do build infrastructure faster than the US.


CrankyStinkman t1_j5qbmdl wrote

The canals were built during the Warring States period, somewhat ironically the footprint of the canal system overlaps with the 3 gorges dam.

The Chinese have been with flooding for a long time, many historians believe that dealing with flooding was the key driver that led to the development of centralized governmental bodies in ancient China.


Locha6 t1_j5swfqw wrote

Didn’t they also have over 250,000 deaths when many, many dams collapsed like dominos?


[deleted] t1_j5sxosr wrote



Words_Are_Hrad t1_j5t5aqa wrote

>250k people or dams 1500 years ago

China's population during the warring states period ~2500 years ago was ~40 million. And the oldest dams in the world date back ~5000 years ago. Hard to imagine China not having dams 1500 years ago.


moldyfishfinger t1_j5rrvis wrote

Can you explain what you mean?


Words_Are_Hrad t1_j5t5q7b wrote

Water infiltration is the process of the ground absorbing water and it flowing down into the water table underground. You have to prove that your site can't reasonably absorb the water before you are allowed to divert it elsewhere.


ChiseledTwinkie t1_j5sme97 wrote

Why can't we pump the water back into the ground? Like a reverse well. We could create temporary rainy season reservoirs and pump the water back into the ground near farmlands


Justanothebloke t1_j5sw3q1 wrote

It is feisable. It is called ASR. Aquifer storage and recovery. The concept is to drill and case the bore to a specific depth in the bedrock that aligns with a fracture. Those fractures hold enormous amounts of water as they go for kilometres. Clean the captured water and pump it down the hole and recover it at a later date when needed.


Fluxmuster t1_j5vgpdo wrote

This is done in a lot of places. Especially places with deep sandy soil. Orange county California has a pretty extensive ground water recharge program. They actually inject partially treated water in a line along the coast to prevent salt water intrusion into the water tables as they pull from the aquifers, lowering freshwater tables.


trappingsofignorance t1_j5wn822 wrote

Seawater intrusion is a major issue all along the coast. Once your aquifer goes salty you pretty much need to find a new aquifer.

Also implicated in the Delta which is part of why keeping a certain amount of water flowing into San Pablo Bay is a big deal


inc0ncise t1_j5stfgd wrote

That exists in the oil fields actually. They are called water injection wells! Wonder if it’s viable for what you suggested.


informativebitching t1_j5tmrk8 wrote

What is the 85th percentile equal to for recurrence interval? What makes it infeasible? Subsurface conditions only or combination of the site being hemmed in and subsurface conditions? Ever discover a new fault while investigating the subsurface?


Fluxmuster t1_j5vfjd9 wrote

Usually infeasibility is proven based on the underlying soil's conductivity . We have to do infiltration tests as part of the geotechnical investigation for the site prior to design. If the volume of water from the 85th percentile storm can't be infiltrated within a 36 hour period it's infeasible. There are other criteria like nearby utilities, steep slope, contaminated soil etc that can preclude infiltration as well. 85th percentile is based off long term (80 years) local rain gauge data. Never encountered a new fault being discovered, but most geotech investigations don't go deep enough for that.


informativebitching t1_j5vnqt9 wrote

Fun. I’m a civil but never had the pleasure of working on storm water or subsurface anything


l397flake t1_j5s2dh6 wrote

How about building reservoirs like other modern countries do it. POS state


Words_Are_Hrad t1_j5t5xu4 wrote

Lmao California has the most extensive network of water works in the entire nation by a massive margin. Go read some books...


sjb204 t1_j5tr498 wrote

I can’t tell if you read the article. The current drought, more so the larger environmental changes, are exceeded their reservoir system.

The reservoir system also just has a ton of bleed ( I know Tahoe supplies Nevada, not California, but the evaporation rates are kind of crazy. More efficient water usage just makes sense…?


l397flake t1_j60169g wrote

In 2014 we approved a 7.5 BILLION bond to build reservoirs in Cal. Maybe someone can tell me how many have been built since then


surfcello t1_j5p5f06 wrote

Beavers, is what you’re looking for. Give them more habitat and allow them to do their thing.


Sariel007 OP t1_j5prxcu wrote

My first thought when reading this.

"Eager: The Surprising, Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter" is a great book about the topic.


Stealyourwaffles t1_j5pri7e wrote

Parachute them in


CALGARY-Homes t1_j5u15kl wrote

I have some in my community you can have, they’re doing the opposite of good here.


Stealyourwaffles t1_j5u1v8q wrote

Yeah man same. We live on a lake and have a big cove beside us with a ravine further up that rain washes down through it. Anyway, beavers have damned it pretty seriously and are always trying to fuck with trees and stuff along the water


CALGARY-Homes t1_j5wddgg wrote

We have a few beavers wreaking havoc and in my old neighborhood they legitimately changed the landscape 😂 just working daily to ruin pathways etc


sandee_eggo t1_j5sf9hy wrote

More wolves and cougars. They kill the deer, which eat the plants, which absorb the water.


Surur t1_j5p8t2b wrote

There are numerous videos on youtube about landscapes being rehabilitated by simply building berns which temporarily stops water long enough for the water to be absorbed by the ground, this this sounds like a great idea.


Sariel007 OP t1_j5oocqp wrote

>WATER IS URBAN planners’ nemesis. Because the built environment is so impervious to liquid, thanks to all that asphalt, concrete, and brick, water accumulates instead of seeping into the ground. That’s how you get the extreme flooding that has plagued California for weeks, so far killing 19 people and causing perhaps $30 billion in damages.

>Traditionally, engineers have treated stormwater as a nuisance, building out complex infrastructure like drains and canals to funnel the deluge to rivers or oceans before it has a chance to puddle. But in California and elsewhere, climate change is forcing a shift in that strategy. As the world warms, more water evaporates from land into the atmosphere, which itself can hold more water as it gets hotter. Storms in the Golden State will come less frequently, yet dump more water faster when they arrive. Stormwater drainage systems just can’t get the water away fast enough.

>To prepare for this soggy future, engineers are turning to another plan for flood control, forcing water to seep underground into natural aquifers. Such a plan will simultaneously mitigate flooding and help the American West store more water despite a climate gone haywire. “We need to think a little bit more creatively about: How do we most effectively utilize basically these huge underground sponges that we can use to supply potable water?” says Katherine Kao Cushing, who studies sustainable water management at San José State University.

>To hydrate its people and agriculture, California is stepping up water conservation efforts, like getting more low-flow toilets into homes and paying people to rip out their lawns, which are terrible for all kinds of reasons beyond their thirstiness. It’s recycling wastewater from homes and businesses into ultra-pure water you can actually drink. But most of all, it’s trying to hold onto its sporadic rainwater, instead of draining it away, building out infrastructure to create “sponge cities.” These are popping up all over the world; the concept has been widely deployed in China, and city planners in places like Berlin in Germany and Auckland in New Zealand are using it to come to grips with heavier rainfall.

>In California, Los Angeles is leading the way. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has invested $130 million in stormwater capture projects, like the Tujunga Spreading Grounds shown above—150 acres of dirt basins that average 20 feet deep. Stormwater is pumped into these bowls and seeps underground for later extraction; the agency expects it to provide enough water for 64,000 households a year.


[deleted] t1_j5rukm8 wrote



VeterinarianOk5370 t1_j5p4jub wrote

Seems like building up, instead of out, maybe the solution. Can’t have urban houses in all directions until there is no land left, definitely store water too I mean California is a desert.

But everyone in California seems desperate to have their own plot of asphalt.


SirBMsALot t1_j5pciqf wrote

You build up and suddenly there’s earthquakes to worry about. Sure there’s pretty good technology for that but it’s still a risk. I know that in San Francisco there was a problem with buildings sinking into the ground due to crappy foundation and the ground being essentially sand


ocmaddog t1_j5q0ezo wrote

There’s a lot of room between skyscraper and single family home that is not earthquake prone. “Building Up” mostly means 3 to 6 story buildings in certain areas.


SirBMsALot t1_j5q78s3 wrote

I see. Having lived in SF, the “building up” to a third story is very expensive unfortunately


ocmaddog t1_j5qaxp3 wrote

I don't doubt it it's difficult to build there, but the rents you'd be able to charge in SF far exceed the seismic expense. Housing isn't built in SF because it is illegal or practically illegal to build there. It's a policy choice made by SF voters.

That's pretty much the story everywhere in California since 1980


blacksheep1492 t1_j5tft78 wrote

San Francisco built some of its foundations from the ships that were abandoned back during the gold rush.


SirBMsALot t1_j5u79dt wrote

That’s the Embarcadero and it’s literally a foundation of trash


moldyfishfinger t1_j5rst21 wrote

Building up is naturally expensive to build and maintain, until an area is sufficiently urbanized to demand it. In suburban areas, you can build some up and some out - and maintain proper green spaces, but it's almost impossible to do in an area that is as car centric as the US.


noxx1234567 t1_j5q11ig wrote

Not letting fresh water drain into the sea is another environmental issue itself

flooding helps remove salinity from the ground and improved marine life by transferring minerals into the sea

There needs to be a study on how much water can be stored and how much water must flow into the sea for a healthy eco system


Job_Stealer t1_j5q5bz6 wrote

We already have in CA. The Natural Resources Board (NRB) determines the minimum level of water needed to flow out to support ecosystems that require them (ex. steelhead trout). Some coastal communities that stupidly rely on coastal creeks and other limited riparian habitats for water have a limit to how much water they can draw from sources.

Source: public planner that deals with the NRB frequently.


Splinterfight t1_j5tmlur wrote

There’s probably a long way to go before we cover the amount of groundwater accumulated by wetlands we’ve removed


moldyfishfinger t1_j5rt4tc wrote

There is an overabundance of fresh water entering the oceans from climate change melting off sea ice. Too much is entering the oceans, in fact.


noxx1234567 t1_j5rvzyq wrote

The water on the polar caps don't matter to the marine life near the coasts


IRMacGuyver t1_j5r95nm wrote

I've been saying for a while that we need to build more cisterns. The Greeks, Romans, Indians, etc all knew about how important cisterns were millenia ago. Why can't we build more now? Oh right probably because homeless people make camps in them and drown when it rains.


skimish1 t1_j5qh797 wrote

How about less conventional agriculture and incentivize more regenerative biologically diverse pastures to make the landscape “spongier”


dr_jiang t1_j5t993o wrote

I think you might be overestimating the amount of conventional agriculture going on in Los Angeles.


goldgrae t1_j5rudsb wrote

I do what I can on my little bit of land in CA at the bottom of a hill to slow water down and help it infiltrate. Swales, basins, plantings, ridiculous amounts of mulch. But I get the drainage from 10 other properties above me where they're doing nothing but funnel their stormwater on (to me, and then down the mountain). I really wish they'd do this stuff... it would make my life a lot easier, and there's no way I really do anything on my own about literal hundreds of thousands of gallons per inch of rain moving through...


GardenerGarrett t1_j5rais2 wrote

In Wichita, we take flood water from the Little Arkansas river, treat it and pump it down into our aquifer (the Equus Beds). Helps keep the city and some surrounding farms with plenty of water and protects the aquifer from a salt plume, the result of a fuck up decades ago. We get a lot more rain than most of California tho.


Ok_Judgment9091 t1_j5pbk4p wrote

Drought and flooding go hand and hand, not so much two separate issues as the headline may suggest


chewie8291 t1_j5pdovs wrote

India has way more experience with this. Why not use some of their solutions.


squidking78 t1_j5pjwva wrote

America must think it’s their own idea or they won’t do things other parts of the world already know work.

The idea of “worlds best practices” and looking abroad just isn’t in them, culturally, sadly.


chewie8291 t1_j5ptyp3 wrote

As an American I can confirm.


squidking78 t1_j5q28bh wrote

It’s weird the things you notice when you live amongst a slightly different culture. And bravo for seeing it yourself.

I just want to throttle some of the people in charge sometimes, or at companies… cos I can clearly see what they could do better as I know it already happens where I come from. But as in my job, I have to convince them it was their idea all along. It’s maddening.


chewie8291 t1_j5qayua wrote

Or combining of solutions. People get blinders on and dont see that they could do things like seawater passive desalinization combined with hydroponics.


squidking78 t1_j5qw39q wrote

Yup. Who knew you could take bits of things that have been proven to work everywhere, and adapt things to your local circumstance!


ClutchMcSlip t1_j5p2vlm wrote

Hmmm. Let the rain fill up the aquifers, so we have water to use in the future? What a novel idea…. California…There may be hope yet.


redditnshitlikethat t1_j5q48ff wrote

This has been said 50 different times 50 different ways in, probably, close to 50 different countries. All over China, africa, middle east, south america the farmland/grounds dont have the ability to absorb rain. They stay dry even when heavy rain comes. They were overfarmed and any vegetation that grows is eaten by cattle immediately. Ground dries out and becomes sand that repels water. There are some amazing documentaries on this i highly recommend. Especially “Re-greening the desert” with john liu


Far_Pianist2707 t1_j5r40vw wrote

Ah. Marshlands. The marshlands that were bulldozed to build the suburbs in. The marshlands we needed to keep the ecology balanced. Those marshlands.


Londonsw8 t1_j5spn18 wrote

Permaculture has at its heart water retention, with ponds and swales. Swales are holes dug into hillsides above trees to allow rainwater to seep into the the ground to reach the roots of trees and other plants. simple and effective water conservation.

In Portugal where I live, cobblestones are used to pave sidewalks and in villages on the roads too. The water seeps between the cracks and into the sand that they are set in, a technic first used by the Romans.


Spiffydude98 t1_j5pfc1h wrote

I have wondered for years why California doesn't do something like they did in China on the Loess Plateau - as seen in this fantastic documentary below by John D. Liu that's just delightful to watch. It seems to be generally the same situation.


Sweet_Inevitable_933 t1_j5rn0uw wrote

Instead of waiting for the government to solve the problem years from now, people with property can build or carve out some space on their land for a detention pond. It will hold water and can feed the local aquifers. One problem might be that after so many years of drought, the soils are so compacted or are composed of too much clay, that they won't actually absorb much.

There are a lot of good ideas here, and it's frustrating waiting for "the officials" to research it and then discuss it, go for funding, etc... years go by and still nothing happens.


wowwee99 t1_j5siqk0 wrote

It's almost like there is some sort magical sphere to deal with this. B something sphere and if it operates effectively as it use to these swings of drought and flooding are mitigated. May be look to the past environment for some inspiration? /S


jeffreynya t1_j5tdely wrote

Here's a super expensive solution. All roads should be raised at least a foot off the ground and all roads should drain straight down with small holes in the shoulder of the roads. So kind of like drip irrigation. I am sure this would not work for many reason.


trappingsofignorance t1_j5wnjep wrote

Minor quibble: many reservoirs in California aren’t reliant on seasonal rainfall so much as consistent snowmelt throughout the summer. Since our summers have been hotter, and hotter in the mountains, the snow we actually get (which is less than we used to) doesn’t stick around long enough to refill some of these reservoirs.


Sassafrasian t1_j5wwypx wrote

Like by having forests, beavers, and letting floodplains remain wetlands? These are the ways nature slows and filters water out.

Limit development in floodplains and build vertically with less impervious surfaces (parking lots), there’s your solution.


12kdaysinthefire t1_j5r6xoa wrote

Good luck with that with Nestle and all those almond farmers sucking every drop out of the ground.


Altruistic-Rice-5567 t1_j5rubp4 wrote

Nuclear power plants desalinating the ocean and pumping fresh water back into the lakes and rivers we've screwed over the past century. That is the solution.


JerRatt1980 t1_j5so8bo wrote

Nope. The key is energy, and removing governments grasp on preventing energy development and production.


xiaopewpew t1_j5t3njs wrote

Elon Musk: California needs to buy hyperloop and fill the loop with literal sponge to retain water

California: Good idea Elon, the committee to evaluate the proposal will only cost tax payers 500 mil a year.


bcanddc t1_j5oz4qp wrote

The solution is building new reservoirs and expanding existing ones. Every time they attempt this, some environmental group sues because of some supposedly endangered mouse in the area or some such thing. Without more water storage, humans will become endangered, forgot about the mice.


hmountain t1_j5p40i3 wrote

Why build reservoirs when we have aquifers already?


CriskCross t1_j5voi3g wrote

No, the solution is to take the idea of free water out behind the barn and executing it. Once the externalities are priced in, you'll see incredibly water inefficient and wasteful crops move to areas that can sustain them, and investment into improving water efficiency.

What you're proposing is the equivalent of wanting someone to lose weight and prescribing exercise, while also allowing them to eat two cheesecakes, four burgers, an entire shifts output of pizza and a handle of liquor a day. You can exercise all you want, they're still getting fat.


zushiba t1_j5p4n4p wrote

Well we can make as many holes in the ground as we want. If there’s no water to put in them then all we have is some neat holes for objects of archaeological wonder in the future.


bcanddc t1_j5p4tcw wrote

See that pic at the top of this post? Every single drop of that water runs straight into the ocean right now.


zushiba t1_j5p52r6 wrote

Ya that’s great and all but I live in a part of the state where that much water hasn’t been seen in centuries.


bcanddc t1_j5p59v4 wrote

Even if that’s true, still would have been nice to catch it all and save it wouldn’t it? Those last storms could have filled dozens of reservoirs.


zushiba t1_j5pcodk wrote

Those storms were somewhat unprecedented. I feel like we would just be hoping something like that happens again.


bcanddc t1_j5q6ow9 wrote

If the climate change crowd is to be believed, we’re supposed to see more extreme weather right? Safe to assume that would include storms like these. Build reservoirs to catch whatever rain we get!


eldudelio t1_j5oqp2a wrote

or just build more damns and water ways, your population goes up, you use more water…


Cultural_Yam7212 t1_j5ov7ex wrote

Or. Stop building cities in deserts with green grass and gold courses everywhere. We’ve been slowly removing dams, restoring habit, trying to undo the shortsighted thinking like-build more dams do Vegas and Phoenix can have lush yards


minotaur05 t1_j5oxfws wrote

Heartily agree. I met an Australian who was very weirded out about how California talks about how we're always in drought but we have toilets with tons of water in them. In Australia apparently they have super low water toilets and this person was very surprised how much water was being wasted on that alone.

Not to mention the green lawns as you mentioned, swimming pools, and tons of wasted water I see from some folks yards that don't have grass either. Mandate drip systems for lawn use or gray water landscape gardening