Liquid Assets: How Stormwater Infrastructure Builds Resilience, Health, Jobs, & Equity


Southern California’s water supply is precarious, and our current practices are unsustainable. Of the roughly 500 billion gallons used annually in the L.A. Basin, only one-third comes from local groundwater; the majority of our water is transported from hundreds of miles away, at a significant financial and environmental cost. Projected increases in demand, dwindling supplies, and the effects of climate change are expected to create a water shortfall by 2050, even assuming significant additional water conservation.

Solving this crisis requires an investment in stormwater capture. We currently capture about 65 billion gallons of stormwater annually, but we discharge an additional 163 billion gallons each year. Investing in stormwater infrastructure could triple the amount captured, setting us on a path to sustainability.

This report develops a model to project job creation and other economic impacts under such a program. A new analysis of recent stormwater projects in L.A. County allows for a focus specifically on the construction and maintenance industries. Assuming a parcel tax raises $300 million annually for green stormwater projects, over 30 years the program would create 6,530 direct construction jobs and 1,347 direct operations and maintenance (O&M) jobs. Including the associated indirect and induced effects brings total jobs created over this period to 9,436. A $9 billion investment over 30 years would thus yield over $14 billion in regional economic benefits, even without accounting for jobs in high-wage fields like engineering and landscape design.