The saying “it never rains in California” appears to be true. The President and Gov. Jerry Brown officially declared a drought emergency for the state. For the past several years California has been seeing less and less rainfall. The state has received less than 1/4 of average annual rainfall this year, and we are experiencing driest rainy season in recorded history, so what can we do to conserve water?
While none of us has the ability to make it rain, we can help to preserve some of the rainfall when the rains return. Think about it, the majority of all rainfall (fresh water) falling onto urbanized areas is lost. Instead of reaching the soil and naturally infiltrating and replenishing ground water and fresh water supplies, the majority of rainwater hits paved surfaces and becomes contaminated stormwater runoff. The natural rainwater cycle has been interrupted, rainwater that should be replenishing our freshwater supplies is now contaminated with pollutants found on our city streets. Contaminated stormwater is carried through the storm drain system and ultimately discharged to our local lakes, rivers and ocean.
There are more than 3 million households in Los Angeles County alone, with an average of 1800 square feet of roof area. During a ¼ inch (very small) rain event, an 1800 square foot roof will produce more than 280 gallons of rainwater runoff.
3 million homes x 280 gallons (rainfall) = 840,000,000 gallons of water lost
If half of the households in Los Angeles County saved just 60 gallons of water in a rain barrel more than 90,000,000 gallons of water could be saved.
A rain barrel is a simple system that collects and stores rainwater from your roof that would otherwise be lost as runoff. The water that is collected in a rain barrel is free of the chlorine and other additives found in municipal water supplies. While it is not advisable to drink untreated rainwater, this water is ideal for your garden, lawns and for car washing.
Rain barrels can be found in all shapes, sizes and price points. They can range from the simple food grade plastic barrels to customized works of art, like the designs by Los Angeles’ own Rain Goddess® (www.theraingoddess.com).
Water agencies throughout the state are offering water savings incentives. The Metropolitan water districts of Los Angeles and Orange counties are currently offering $75.00 rain barrel rebates for all qualifying rain barrels here.
Think about it, you can do one small thing that could have a very large impact in solving our water problems.