Roll Out Your Rain Barrel to Protect the Ocean!

Summertime is in full effect, which means we’ll all be flocking to the beach here in LA!

While you’re soaking up the sun, you might notice that our oceans are looking extra clear. Studies have shown that our beaches are cleaner during this time of year because of an unintended consequence of the drought– reduced stormwater runoff– keeping pollution, toxins and trash out of our waterways.

Of course, there are other ways to reduce runoff that benefit our city and help fight drought. For instance, installing a rain barrel!

Roll Out the Rain Barrel

In Los Angeles County, only 10-15% of our water comes from groundwater. The rest is imported–at a huge cost to you and the environment.  Did you know we use drinking-quality water for everything? That includes washing clothes, flushing toilets and watering lawns.

But what if we captured rainwater, instead? Not only would we help clean our oceans, we’d have well cared for yards and we’d reduce our need for imported water. Imagine that!

This isn’t new technology, either. Around the world, people have been collecting rainwater for thousands of years. After all, water falls from the sky for free!  Instead of letting it flow into a system of gutters, streets and storm drains, eventually making it’s way into the ocean, capture it!  Your roof is an ideal catchment area to divert rainwater into a tank–such as a rain barrel.


Need more info? Here are our rain barrel FAQ’s:

What is a rain barrel?

Rain barrels are simply large containers that hold rainwater. Rain barrels can be repurposed food storage containers, sleek modular wall units or terracotta-colored urns.

Where would I install a rain barrel?

The best place is right below your downspouts. If you do not have gutters, you can position a barrel under a valley in your roofline. Rain barrels should be raised about 18” to allow gravity to help move water through your garden. Want to learn more about how to install your barrel? We’ll walk you through it, step by step, in our FREE workshop.

How can I use the water I capture?

You can use the water from your barrel to water your garden and trees.

It doesn’t rain in the summer, so why install now?

Summer is the best time to put in gutters and tanks.  If you wait until fall, you’ll have to schedule around rain events, and might miss the opportunity to catch some of those precious drops.  Get your barrels in now, and be ready for the very first rain event.

Shouldn’t I worry about mosquitoes & earthquakes?

Definitely not! A properly installed and maintained barrel is safe from mosquitoes and earthquakes. Simply use a screened lid and be sure to use earthquake straps to secure your tanks, as shown in our “how to install rain barrel”.

Is this expensive?

Rain barrels are inexpensive and yield many ecological benefits.  Installing an average 50-75 gallon rain barrel is a quick DIY project and can be done for about $100–or free after rebate!  Log on to TreeMapLA to map your tank and see how much money it’s worth to you and our city.  

Ready to start harvesting rainwater at home? Sign up for our next distribution on June 25. 

By Lisa Cahill

Lisa Cahill first began her work with TreePeople as a volunteer Citizen Forester. She currently serves on the board of directors for the reDiscover Center, continues to volunteer as a Citizen Forester, has been on the Mar Vista Green Garden Tour and serves on several green committees at her church and children's schools. She most enjoys working in the garden with her husband, watching her children and vegetables grow.