L.A. City Rainwater Program Looking for Westside Owners
July 22, 2009 § 9 Comments
The city of Los Angeles is looking for homes and businesses to help harvest rainwater! This is an exciting program for me for a number of reasons.
First off, I am happy just semantically. Agencies usually write “stormwater” – implying: perilous, foreboding, dangerous. We creek freaks, taking a lead from Brad Lancaster, usually write and say “rainwater” – implying more natural maybe even pleasant, romantic. I’m really happy to see that word rainwater in a city document, whether it’s from the city or their PR consultants (who forwarded L.A. Creek Freak a press release about the excellent program.) The language and the collaborative way the program is described signal a positive approach which bodes well.
Another promising aspect is that the program is decentralized and upstream. Often cities look at huge centralized end-of-pipe solutions: collect lots of tainted water, then pump it through an energy-intensive factory to clean it all. This innovative program aims to enlist 600 property owners to harvest rainwater on-site, before it becomes a problem downstream. Monitoring the outflow at a centralized site can be effective, and is perhaps a little more controllable, but it fosters that out-of-sight-out-of-mind attitude that has gotten us in trouble on many environmental fronts. It’s sort of like saying “pollute all you want and we’ll clean up after you.” The city’s new rainwater program involves residents collaboratively; it connects them with natural cycles. It has multiple benefits. It reduces run-off, which prevents polluted waters from impacting human and eco-system health. That reduced run-off incrementally reduces risks of flooding (that flood risk is what lead to the paving of much of local waterways.) Capturing rainwater also reduces local reliance on imported water… hence lessening the huge negative environmental impacts of pumping all that water; those impacts include global warming and ecosystem degradation to the point of species extinction.
So… what does this program actually do? The city will install free rain barrels, and will redirect downspouts so that they direct water into landscaping, instead of into a stormdrain. (Maybe the city will actually make these activities legal in the city’s building codes, someday, too? A guy can dream, no? Sorry, we now return to what I am trying to make a gushingly positive post.) It’s all made available free to the property owner, though she’ll need to sign-off on maintenance and liability agreements.
Right now the program is only a pilot in parts of the Ballona Creek / Santa Monica Bay Watersheds. Here are maps of neighborhoods which are eligible to participate in the initial program. They include the Jefferson Area (bounded by Jefferson, La Brea, Adams, and La Cienega/Fairfax) and the Sawtelle / Mar Vista Area (bounded by Sawtelle Pico, Bundy/Centinela and Venice.) If you own property in the pilot area, contact the city right away to sign-up!
Hopefully this program will be a tremendous success and will expand to other parts of the city and of Southern California. L.A. Creek Freak looks forward to blogging more about the success stories that will come out of the program.