How to Take Charge of Your Water Supply and Harvest the Rain

Would it sound crazy if we said you’re taking showers, flushing your toilet and watering your lawn with Evian water?

Pretty much. But Angelenos use about half of all their drinking-quality water for landscaping (!), 20% to flush their toilets and a whopping 18% for showering—If not exactly Evian brand, it’s water that could be saved for its most vital uses.

Imagine how many gallons of precious potable water that could be saved if we captured the rain. Not only would we significantly reduce our need for imported water (which makes up nearly 90% of LA’s water supply), but we’d also protect the dwindling fresh drinking water supply available.

Try Rainwater Harvesting

People have collected rainwater for thousands of years all around the world. Water falls from the sky for free and capturing it for later use just makes sense.

When rain falls on a roof, it usually flows into a system of gutters, streets, storm drains and eventually into the ocean, harming people and marine life alike from pollution it sweeps up along the way.

Your roof is an ideal catchment area from which you can divert the rain – through roof gutters, downspouts and/or rain chains into a tank – like a rain barrel!

What’s a Rain Barrel?

Rain barrels are simply large containers to hold water. They can be anything from repurposed food storage containers, sleek modular wall units or even a terracotta-colored urn. There are hundreds of products and styles to choose from.

How Much Water Can my Roof Capture?

An inch of rain yields 0.6 gallons for every square foot of surface it hits.

So, if you have a 1,000 square foot home, you can harvest 600 gallons every time it rains an inch. Square footage x inches of rainfall x 0.6 = gallons of water is the gold standard of rainwater harvesting.

The practice of capturing the rain is a massive opportunity to take charge of your own home and green your lifestyle. Being water smart is en vogue, after all for Angelenos and others living in dry climates, especially. Every drop of rain, every gallon of water counts!

Where Do I get Mine?

Right now, Angelenos can get FREE rain barrels using a rebate through the MWD!

TreePeople has truck load sales events scheduled throughout the year with our partner Rain Barrels International to help you take advantage of this opportunity, but you must order your barrels in advance.

See a list of scheduled dates below (subject to change). All events are held at TreePeople’s Center for Community Forestry during one of our workshops where you’ll learn the ins-and-outs of your new sustainable addition (reservations required) unless otherwise specified:

Please check back regularly for updates.

Normally, rain barrels sell for between $130 and $150, but our truck load sales give you the opportunity to buy them at cost for $85 each and up to four at a time. With these rebates—you can essentially have them for free!

Rain Barrel Rebate Information

Through the LADWP and MWD, you can get up to $100 rebate each for up to 4 barrels.

You can use this rebate for any barrels purchased from any retailer.  TreePeople does not receive any proceeds from the truck load sales.

If you don’t live in LA, visit Rain Barrels International’s site for more information on how you can get yours, too.

Here’s a list of some online shops for more options:

How Do I Install My Barrel?

We always encourage people to attend one of our free Rainwater Harvest Workshops to get a full download on how to install rain barrels and other tools.

If you don’t live in the Los Angeles area, check with local community organizations to see if they offer information. You can also watch this video to learn how to install your barrel on your own.

What about Mosquitoes and Earthquakes?

Take these simple steps to be worry-free:

  • Use a screened lid
  • Clean and empty your barrel as needed
  • Strap it into place.

With so many incentives and options available, there has never been a better time to start capturing this free, precious resource falling from above. Californians especially need to take heed and get on the bandwagon. Not only is implementing this at home easy, it’s smart preparation for current and future droughts.

By Jessica Jewell

Jessica is TreePeople’s Director of Marketing and Communications. A native Southern Californian, you can find her wandering local trails, hanging out with her sidekick, Penny the Rescue Puppy, on her yoga mat, reading some Phillip K. Dick, or in her kitchen cooking up vegan confections.

Jessica's professional background goes back to her time working at PETA where she worked on celebrity campaigns, and a stint in the entertainment industry, where she worked at Technicolor on their Global Marketing Team.