California is currently in the midst of a five-year drought, so Los Angeles officials are getting creative with water conservation strategies. The latest effort, a Green Alley pilot project, aims to capture rainwater from the city’s approximately 2,000 acres of alleyways. The first stage of the project currently underway in South Los Angeles, where there is just roughly half an acre of open space per 1,000 residents — compared with a 3.3-acre average for Los Angeles County.

In total, city officials hope these green alleyways will help capture 50 billion gallons of rainwater by 2035, marking a notable increase from the 8.8 billion currently obtained. So far, the project is producing major results, as a green alley finished in 2015 saved more than 750,000 gallons of water during its inaugural year. By 2025, Los Angeles officials are hoping to cut the area’s reliance on water from external sources in half, and these alleyways could become an invaluable asset towards reaching this goal.

Residents have proven they’re committed to water conservation efforts, as water use declined 21.5% in June 2016, compared with June 2013, according to the State Water Resources Control Board, although state officials eased mandatory drought targets a few months back. A desire to help conserve water, combined with green alleyways, could drastically raise the region’s water supply in the future.

Green Alleys Offer Many Other Benefits

Los Angeles water conservation efforts might receive a huge push from the addition of green alleyways throughout the region, but this isn’t the only benefit offered. Other advantages of greenifying these concrete jungles include making a beautiful space for the neighborhood to enjoy, encouraging pedestrian use, and reducing the amount of heat emanated by using light colored paving.

Many other cities have also adopted green alleys, including Chicago, San Francisco, Austin, and Seattle. Chicago started its green alley program a decade ago in 2006 and as of 2010, the city had created more than 100 green alleys. San Francisco is also currently working to transform 7,725 sq. ft. of alleyway asphalt into greener spaces.

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