Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

It’s Raining Again – Time to Think About Rain Barrels and Cisterns!


Last summer, when it was scorching hot and there were many months with not even a hint of moisture in the air, it may have been hard to imagine that it would ever rain again…and a bit hard to imagine that we’d ever be able to take advantage of the city’s drought-busting offers of free rain barrels and cisterns.

The season has definitely turned, however, and with several days of rain in the last week, it’s a great time to remind folks that we can (and should!) be capturing as much of the wonderful moisture as possible.

To encourage more people to capture the rain while we have it, the Metropolitan Water District is offering substantial rebates on both rain barrels and cisterns for residential water capture.  You can get a rebate of up to $100 per rain barrel, for up to four rain barrels for your home.

According to the MWD website, rain barrels are both valuable drought-fighters and beneficial to our vegetation in other ways.  “Collecting and re-using rainwater for lawns and gardens minimizes the amount of water flowing into your storm drains, sewer systems and local waterways. Plants and microbes prefer rainwater because it is naturally “soft” and free of chlorine, fluoride and other chemicals.”

To qualify for the rebates, here are the requirements for rain barrels:

  1. Minimum size: 50 gallons
  2. Rain barrel must be designed for the intended purpose of rain capture
  3. Should have a cover to prevent mosquitos, rodents and debris from entering
  4. The rain barrel must be mounted in a way that allows the barrel to receive water unimpeded from a rain gutter.
  5. Should not block or restrict access to walkways or pathways
  6. Rain barrel must not be connected to the irrigation system and must be distributed through a hose or bucket
  7. Should be elevated 6 inches off the ground on a solid foundation
  8. Should be strapped to your home for safety if the height of the barrel is two times greater than the width
  9. Maximum of four rain barrel rebates allowed per home, one application per address.
  10. Rain barrel must be purchased as an entire rain barrel. Homemade rain barrels do not qualify for rebates
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The DWP is also partnering with Tree People, the Los Angeles Department of Sanitation and the LA County Flood Control District in a cooperative effort dubbed #LAStormCatcher, which aims to increase the city’s enviornmental resiliance by “increasing local water supply, improving water quality, and reducing flood risk.”

The ultimate goal of the campaign, which can be followed via the Twitter hashtag above or on Facebook, is to outfit homes to manage stormwater capture more efficiently.  The campaign started in November with a pilot program to install state-of-the-art “smart cisterns” in several San Fernando Valley homes, directing rain off of roofs and into large tanks that are monitored and controlled electronically — increasing water supply, improving water quality, and reducing the risk of flooding.

The Metropolitan Water District is also offering rebates of up to $400 for qualifying residential cisterns for homes throughout the city.  Cistern requirements are:

  1. Must have a capacity of at least 200 gallons
  2. Can be either above ground or underground
  3. Should not block or restrict access to walkways or pathways
  4. Maximum of one cistern is allowed per address.
  5. Homemade cisterns do not qualify for rebates.

So now that we can actually imagine the long-predicted El Niño rains materializing, it’s a good time to remember that we can also save some of the moisture…and to ask Santa for a rain barrel or two.

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Elizabeth Fuller
Elizabeth Fuller
Elizabeth Fuller was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN but has lived in LA since 1991 - with deep roots in both the Sycamore Square and West Adams Heights-Sugar Hill neighborhoods. She spent 10 years with the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, volunteers at Wilshire Crest Elementary School, and has been writing for the Buzz since 2015.

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