Environmental Resilience Through a Tragic 2020

What impact has COVID-19 had on the environment?

Around the globe, the reduced human buzz has resulted in noticeably cleaner air. As my family and I drove through the Pasadena Hills this week, we could see the ocean in the distance and the LA Basin air just looked different. We reduce our impact via less commuting, and the environment responds noticeably within weeks. This simple cause and effect relationship demonstrates the tight coupling between human activity and the quality of our local environment. Earth systems are resilient on short time frames — reduce our human impact and improvement is rapid and noticeable.

Natural water systems are no different. Wouldn’t it be cool to conduct a natural experiment in our neighborhood watersheds analogous to what the stay-at-home orders have done to air pollution?

Our cities are a network of small urban watersheds. With reduced socializing due to the pandemic, many of us have increased our neighborhood walks with our pets and family. Every one of us has a local waterway to where the rain that lands on our roof drains. Why not go find it on your next walk? Does it look healthy? My guess is it could be healthier. The cause and effect linkage is simple. The condition of the land draining to that point directly influences the health of the waterway you see. Science tells us we can do better.


Your support means healthier waterways

Support investments in green infrastructure. It puts rain back into the ground where it belongs so that more water travels through soil rather than pipes, filtering pollution, cooling the water, recharging groundwater and restoring natural processes.

Support the transformation from grey to green infrastructure to cool your neighborhoods.

Support litter control and urban stewardship cleanup programs.

Support your city’s street sweeping programs to effectively remove pollutants and trash from our curbs and road shoulders before the rain washes it into the waterway.


Your city is regulated under the Clean Water Act to protect the quality of your local waterways but they need your support. Encourage your city to invest in clean and green solutions in your community — it will look and feel different. The receiving water ecosystem will respond quickly.

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