Rainwater Harvesting How-To


Even in good times, Los Angeles isn’t breaking records for rainfall. We get only about 15 inches each year—mostly in the winter and early spring. But coming off the driest year on record, the potential for a series of storms this week makes us giddy.

You can make the most of the soaker by installing a rain barrel to collect the precious H20. Just one inch of rain on a 1,000-square-foot rooftop can yield more than 600 gallons. That can go a long way in curbing your water consumption and making your garden greener.

A few more reasons to give rainwater harvesting a whirl:

1. It reduces runoff. Conservation isn’t the only blue bonus to rainwater harvesting. By catching rain before it hits the ground, you’re keeping that water from flowing through the streets, picking up pollutants like pesticides and petroleum, and washing into our local rivers, creeks and bays.

2. Your plants will thank you. Since it’s naturally free of chlorine and other not-so-tasty chemicals, rainwater makes for more nutritious guzzling for your flowers, fruits and veggies.

3. The groundwater needs it. Even if you don’t have a thirsty garden, allowing collected rainwater to infiltrate into the earth helps replenish underground aquifers, which account for 40% of our drinking water.

4. You’ll save some cash. Along with slashing your water bill, you can now earn a rebate of $75 or more on your rain barrel (thanks to the SoCal Water$mart program, which lists its rain-barrel guidelines here.

To get started, watch our video tutorial on how to install a rain barrel. Once your system is up and running, keep your barrel in good shape by frequently checking the screen for debris, looking out for leaks, and clearing off any water that gathers on the lid. Happy harvesting!


Comments (4)

  1. Avatar for LA Stormwater
    Cara Rule
    April 25th, 2014 at 8:11 pm

    Approximately two weeks ago I completed the online application for a rebate for the 4 rain barrels I purchased. Your directions say to then send: “A printout of the online application confirmation page”; “Sales receipt or invoice from your contractor that includes brand, model and price of the qualifying rebate device” and “A copy of your water bill.”

    Well, I completed the application twice because there was no confirmation page at the end of the application process, nor did I receive one via e-mail – so I have been unable to send a printout along with my receipt and copy of my water bill.

    How am I supposed to get my rebate?

    Thank you,
    Cara Rule

    • Avatar for LA Stormwater
      LA Stormwater
      April 29th, 2014 at 6:25 am

      Hi Cara.

      Currently the City of Los Angeles is not offering rebates on rain barrel purchases. Are you applying through the SoCal WaterSmart Rebate Program (www.socalwatersmart.com)? If so, please contact them directly at 1-888-376-3314 and they should be able to help.

  2. Avatar for LA Stormwater
    Alfredo Ramirez
    June 25th, 2014 at 12:30 pm

    I need to purchase four rain barrels for a home remodel project. Where can purchase the barrels you show in the above picture?

    • Avatar for LA Stormwater
      LA Stormwater
      June 25th, 2014 at 3:12 pm

      Hi Alfredo,
      Thanks so much for your interest in harvesting rainwater. While we’re not sure where you can purchase barrels exactly like the one that was featured in our article, if you Google “rain barrel”, there is a large assortment of different styles of rain barrels from which one can choose. You may also want to consider visiting a local home improvement store and ask if they have rain barrels. More home improvement stores are beginning to carry rain barrels. Lastly, be sure to take advantage of the rain barrel rebate currently offered by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. Here’s where you can find more information on that rebate program: http://socalwatersmart.com/index.php/qualifyingproducts/rain-barrels.
      Best of luck!

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