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This was submitted as an idea to the Politifest 2012 Idea Tournament. VOSD members will vote on the best ideas and on Sept. 19 we’ll announce six contenders (Not a member? Join now to vote). At Politifest on Sept. 29, each of the six finalists will have five minutes to pitch their idea to a panel. The panel rates the ideas and two finalists advance. The crowd at Politifest will vote on a winner. The winner will receive an “idea-inspired” trophy custom-designed by former City Councilwoman Donna Frye. VOSD CEO Scott Lewis will also write about the winner’s idea.

Develop public financing, such as carbon emission or tax credits, to encourage the design, retrofit and installation of rainwater harvesting systems, green-walls and green-rooftops on buildings.

Local rainwater collection infrastructure improves water quality, enhances local water supplies, reduces reliance on imported water and can move San Diego towards a more water-secure future. For all these reasons, public financing to increase local water supplies would be a wise investment.

Current models for collecting, storing and distributing water to end users requires billions in public investment for infrastructure, operation and maintenance.

Moreover, the California Air Resources Board predicted, state-wide, “Water supply costs due to scarcity and increased operating costs would increase as much as $689 million per year by 2050… [C]hanges in yields (mostly negative) and changes in water availability could result in gross revenue losses of up to $3 billion by 2050.”

San Diegans can help reduce these costs and related energy use dedicated to pumping water around California by installing rainwater collection systems.

California’s energy paradigm was similar to the current water model until the “renewable energy portfolio” requirement became law. Distributed solar energy on private homes and commercial buildings is now encouraged and financed in part by state and federal tax credits, and has spurred related employment and economic growth.

These economic incentives have the state on track for a bright solar-powered future. It’s time to apply the same model to water. Green-walls and rooftops filter run-off and reduce evaporation loss. San Diegans are seeing these structures on a limited scale (like at the Fashion Valley shopping center).

These systems remind people we have limited water supplies, and encourage water conservation. They can reduce state-wide energy use and provide local emergency water supplies.

It’s in everyone’s interests to invest in and expand upon local water harvesting.

Lori Saldaña submitted this idea to the Politifest 2012 Idea Tournament. Join us on Sept. 29!

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