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5 Ways L.A. County Residents Can Collect Rainwater in Their Own Backyards

It’s every self-sufficient homeowner’s dream — surveying your backyard as rain pours off your roof and into your very own rain barrels for later use (like irrigation and watering plants). Here in L.A. County, where we get around 15 inches of rain annually, harvesting stormwater is an easy way to conserve a scarce resource, while simultaneously protecting the environment and saving money. It’s a triple win!

Here are a few ways you can harness rain for your own use, rather than letting it escape into the drain and out to sea:  

  1. Install a rain barrel (or four)
  • Connecting rain barrels to your gutter system is by far the easiest way to collect rainwater for your own use. Here in Southern California, a number of companies can help you set up these barrels. Currently, the SoCal Water Smart offers rebates to those who buy barrels 50 gallons and larger. Depending on how much rainwater you’d like to capture, you could see rebates of up to $350. Not bad!
  1. Buy a flexible rainwater pouch:
  • An economical option for the space-deprived, flexible water pouches can be easily installed under decks, in crawl spaces, in parking garages or in small yards. Installing a pre-filter and flush device would remove leaf debris and other large particulates and, as with any other rainwater system, you can even add filtration devices to treat the water to EPA drinking water standards.   
  1. Create your own rain garden:
  • Typically, rainwater collects whatever nasty toxins are sitting on top of your house (like smog particulates) as it makes its way into storm drains and, eventually, the ocean. But in a rain garden, channels filled with river rocks slow down the water while vegetation helps remove debris and pollution from your roof water, including heavy metals and pathogens. As the water winds down the channel of rocks, it can help support plant life in your backyard.  
  1. Build a fountain:
  • If you really want to go all-out, try creating an outdoor fountain that’s fed entirely by rainwater. You can use harvested rainwater from your gutters to create a watery home for birds, insects, and aquatic plants.
  1. Take a class:
  • To master the art of rain capture, consider taking a class with ARCSA — AKA the American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association. In this online course, students learn how to plan and install a rainwater filtration system, understand the local rules and regulations, make sure it all runs safely and smoothly.

These ideas might seem like a drop in the bucket but they all add up. Combined with the Safe, Clean Water Program, a grand stormwater infrastructure plan that our County leaders are developing, DIY rainwater capture projects can help us save a massive amount of rainwater every year. Share this post with the Ron Swanson in your friend group and help us #RainItInLA.