LADWP Announces Stormwater Capture Master Plan


The sun was beginning to set behind the Los Angeles River Center and Gardens Wednesday evening when Rafael Villagas of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power stepped to the podium. He—and some 60 stakeholders and residents—had come to discuss the future of L.A.’s water supply and how stormwater capture can help make our city more sustainable.

 The LADWP is currently hammering out the Stormwater Capture Master Plan (SCMP). It’s an initiative that—along with water conservation, recycled water and groundwater cleanup—will boost our local water supplies and reduce our reliance on water pumped in from other parts of California. Today, only 12% of L.A.’s water supplies come from local sources. Most of the water is imported from the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains, Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay Delta and the Colorado River, which is expensive and increasingly scarce due to the statewide drought. 

“We designed a city to move water out to the ocean as fast as possible,” said Villagas, referring to the system of storm drains and channels that quickly capture and move rainfall away from our streets. “The majority of the rainfall ends up in the ocean. We have come to understand stormwater capture as a key piece in the enhancement our local water supply.”

You can say that again. One inch of rain can produce 1,000 acre-feet of water. An acre-foot is equal to 326,000 gallons of water, enough to supply two households with water for a year.  Currently, the city captures about 27,000 acre-feet of water, which is used to recharge our groundwater supplies. By 2099, the SCMP aims to collect between 170,000 and 280,000 acre-feet, a huge improvement!

The question is how. LADWP has identified numerous ways to capture every precious drop, including

  • Improved dams
  • New and improved spreading grounds that replenish groundwater basins
  • Green streets outfitted with infiltration systems   
  • Permeable pavement on sidewalks and parking lots
  • Pocket parks
  • Rainbarrels and cisterns

But before the plan is drafted, the LADWP wants to hear your ideas. Whether you think we should capture water in unused swimming pools, as one resident suggested, or re-pave box store parking lots with permeable pavement, any and all ideas are welcome. Just log on to and fill out the Stormwater Capture Project Suggestion Form.

Need a little inspiration? Click here to see how Proposition O projects have helped capture rainwater and prevent polluted runoff from rushing into our local waterways.

 *Photo courtesy


Comments (3)

  1. Julie Lam
    May 21st, 2014 at 3:49 pm

    Hello – I attended a talk by Nancy Steele of Watershed Health and was inspired to add my idea of how we can encourage local residents to understand and adopt LOW IMPACT DEVELOPMENT practices in their own yards. My idea is to implement a rebate or financial assistant program for residents who install LID/bioswale landscapes in their yard or in their parkstrip. This is similar to the current rebate program for those who replace his/her lawn with drought tolerant landscape. Now, if Parkstrips, which are owned by city, are involved, the city must also make it easier for residents to obtain permits in order to break up their concrete parkstrip or dirt parkstrip. Making rebates more obtainable and permits more easy to understand and obtain, this will encourage property owners to take ownership of their yard, water quality and community. Plus, it will provide more job opportunities for landscape designers to build LID landscapes for property owners. Please let me know what you think.

    • Avatar for LA Stormwater
      LA Stormwater
      May 28th, 2014 at 11:28 am

      Thank you, Julie, for your thoughts. It will most certainly take all of Los Angeles’ residents each doing their part to improve local water quality and rebates are a great way to incentivize Angelenos to do the right thing. As we move forward, we’re all hoping to be able to offer more financial incentives for those willing to make positive changes.

  2. Wm Johnson
    January 14th, 2015 at 8:12 pm

    Not one drop of rain water should go into the ocean, not one drop.

Share Your Comments With Us

  • We’re on Facebook!

  • Featured Videos

    Ariel Art at Kids Ocean Day 2010