Rainwater Harvesting Program Plans to Flow Citywide


Good news! The LA Stormwater Program has successfully completed the City’s first Rainwater Harvesting Pilot Program at the end of March! The even better news? As a result of the pilot, 600 Los Angeleno homeowners and eight commercial building owners received and installed free rain barrels and planter boxes to collect rainwater and reduce urban runoff that leads to the ocean (see pics here). Just imagine that collective effort of captured rainwater strategically re-used for on-site irrigation. Consider that each 55-gallon rain barrel captures an average of 1,000 gallons of water per year from a residential property. For every barrel, that’s equal to one month’s worth of showers for one person!

The pilot program was initiated by the Bureau of Sanitation to help its efforts in keeping Los Angeles rivers and oceans healthy and safe, while also conserving potable water. A grant from the Safe Neighborhood Parks, Clean Water, Clean Air and Coastal Protection Bond Act of 2000 funded the pilot program that targeted the neighborhoods of Jefferson, Sawtelle and Mar Vista in the Ballona Creek Watershed. Area stakeholders embraced the program by submitting more than 3,000 applications despite the limited number of slots. An active momentum needed to generate interest in harvesting rainwater throughout the entire City remains in full force!

With all the positive feedback we received and the smashing success of the pilot, the City, in collaboration with conservation groups including the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission, TreePeople, G3, Surfrider and Heal the Bay, as well as engineering experts Malcom Pirnie, is currently evaluating five key models for full scale citywide implementation. Funding options and program duration are also being explored together. The hope is to select the most effective, but not cost-prohibitive, program that every Angeleno can participate in.

Of the five key citywide implementation avenues under consideration (see here or on the LA Rainwater Harvesting website), the City’s recommended model entails providing rain barrel rebates rather than discounts to city residents who purchase their own rain barrel. To help those who are new to rainwater harvesting, there will be optional hands-on workshops aimed to provide Do-It-Yourself education and best management practices for rain barrel installation.

The goals of the citywide program will focus on providing a service and rebate for residents while also promoting both reuse and infiltration methods as equally beneficial components of rainwater harvesting. The program seeks to make a rain barrel or a downspout disconnnect as the homeowner’s “first-step” on the road to water conservation and minimizing urban runoff.

Marilee Kuhlmann of G3 says, “Rain barrels are strong visual acknowledgements of the power of harvesting rainwater in the LA area. The more people know, the more they can do. I truly believe that 55-gallons are only the beginning!”

We couldn’t agree more with Marilee. Thank you and congratulations to all the pilot participants who now proudly harvest rainwater. LA Stormwater is glad to have you on our team! To all the others enthusiastically awaiting a citywide roll-out, hang tight as we work hard for ways to get everybody on board! Meanwhile, stay in touch by becoming a fan at LA Stormwater’s Facebook Fan Page for the latest program updates. What do you think about the plans for citywide roll-out? Please post your thoughts and opinions below.

Click here to view all of the articles in Issue 10 of the LA Stormwater newsletter.


Comments (4)

  1. Avatar for LA Stormwater
    April 21st, 2010 at 10:06 pm

    rain barrel rebates is a good idea, but please don't limit information to facebook. I'm one of countless who refuse to use such sites. How about just emailing latest info to those of us on your list.

  2. Avatar for LA Stormwater
    LA Stormwater Program
    April 22nd, 2010 at 11:55 am

    Hi George, thanks for sharing your thoughts on the plans for citywide roll-out of the Rainwater Harvesting Program! Not to worry, as more information on the plan becomes available we will post it on our blog and send it out in emails.

  3. Avatar for LA Stormwater
    April 26th, 2010 at 9:37 pm

    Will this program be made available countywide as well? Let this be THE MODEL for the whole country.

  4. Avatar for LA Stormwater
    LA Stormwater Program
    April 27th, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    Hi Leonel, at this time it is the City of LA that has plans to expand the LA Rainwater Harvesting Program. If you would like information on how to harvest your own rainwater, please check out the LA Rainwater Harvesting website http://www.larainwaterharvesting.org/ which has a how-to-guide and list of rain barrel manufacturers.

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