Is Los Angeles Ready For El Nino?

El Niño is likely to be heading our way this winter, bringing upwards of 30 inches of rain to Los Angeles. So, the drought is essentially over—right? Wrong.

Well, that is, unless we prepare properly.

Unfortunately, as the climate shifts, we can expect to see drought and floods as two sides of the same coin. As we adapt to this new norm, we can expect both drier conditions and more severe storms. Unless we adopt new habits, like learning to responsibly capture those drops, we can expect drought conditions to continue.

In Los Angeles, storms often result in flooding. A city sealed in concrete sends water straight into the ocean—which limits the amount of water replenishing our aquifers. For every inch of rain we that falls, we send about 3.8 billion gallons down our streets, to the ocean.

Ask yourself: If El Niño does, in fact, come this year—can we afford to lose 114 billion gallons of water?

Fortunately, each of us can take steps to prepare.

Capture the Rain


Even in a drought year with only 7 inches of rain, the average homeowner could capture approximately 4,000 gallons of water!

Harvesting the rain has long term benefits, too. A tree is only watered once when it rains, but if you have water stored, your trees can continue to drink even when the rain is long gone. Plus, our groundwater supply is recharged when you water your yard with captured rain.

Here at TreePeople, we offer free workshops on capturing rain safely and responsibly.

We also encourage landscape architects and designers to get certified through the American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association to help transform LA into a sustainable, water-secure city.

Prepare Your Yard 16826424100_6f8f76cea5_k

Yards lush with native and drought-tolerant plants, trees and mulch create a sponge-like watershed. When storms approach, that sponge is able to capture stormwater and prevent dangerous flooding—definitely important in the face of an El Niño!

Plants also support a healthy ecosystem by storing water in our aquifers and providing habitat for local wildlife. (Not to mention, keeping water OFF our streets means our water stays clean and unpolluted!)

Organize Community Gatherings13768350524_aa3a3f9544_k (1)

Drought and climate change are too massive for any of us to conquer alone. However, if we each do our part, we can create a sustainable city.

Are you ready to motivate your neighbors to create a healthy Los Angeles, but aren’t sure where to start? We can help! We offer workshops that will give you all the tools needed to inspire your community to take ownership of its urban forest!

Feeling amped? Our next set of Green City Workshops are right around the corner. Sign up now! 

By Erika Abdelatif

Erika Abdelatif is TreePeople’s Social Media and Digital Content Manager. When she isn't creating a climate-resilient LA via the Facebook, she's probably writing in a coffee shop, infesting the internet with memes, or watching an open mic.