To catch a raindrop...or a billion

This summer saw the debut of an impressive new Los Angeles-based magazine, Slake, and its publication ofa spectacular story by Judith Lewis Mernit about Elmer Avenue in Sun Valley - L.A.’s newest green street that harvests rainwater - as well as the issues surrounding local water: To Catch a Raindrop.

Congratulations to Judith and her friends at Slake for this excellent primer on water policy in Los Angeles in the 21st century. I celebrate its depth of analysis, and the fullness of the portrait it paints of the vast effort required to make Elmer Avenue happen.

The story focuses mostly on former L.A. Department of Water and Power project engineer Mark Hanna. It also shines light on the many who contributed their energy, talent and passion to Elmer Avenue's success. It paints a detailed picture, both of the technical side, and the human side, making it clear that it’s a huge team and community effort involving many players.

Judith’s reporting performs a great service to the emerging urban watershed movement, because it highlights a critical success factor. Rather than only focusing on the innovative engineering of nature-mimicking and nature-partnering technology at the core of the urban watershed approach, it includes the essential ingredient that is so often left out: the intricate partnership amongst the community members, organizations and agencies. Thank you, Judith.

Here’s a picture of Elmer Avenue via Joe Linton’s L.A.Creek Freak, showing the street and sidewalk -- which once used to flood at every opportunity -- after a half-inch of rain this past spring. Now check out the story in Slake.


Photo credit: Los Angeles & San Gabriel Rivers Watershed Council