It may not rain much in Los Angeles County, but when it does, a single storm can send up to 10 billion gallons of water surging into a vast network of storm channels with a single destination: the Pacific Ocean.
For decades, environmental activists such as Andy Lipkis have argued that this ritual flushing of stormwater was a form of profligacy Los Angeles could ill afford. That water could be captured before it picked up ground contaminants and used for irrigation and other purposes.
Yet when the president and founder of TreePeople began proposing more than 20 years ago that the city "harvest" rainwater from the sky, the response was always the same.
"They asked me what planet I was from. What was I smoking?" Lipkis said with a laugh.
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