The Palisadian-Post has partnered with locally founded environmental organization Resilient Palisades to deliver a “green tip” to our readers in each newspaper. This edition’s tip was written by Allison Holdorff of the Water Sages Team.
California has struggled with drought for the last 20 years, and with climate change, the rain we do get will be more intense. Estimates suggest that even during drought years, enough rain falls on Los Angeles to fulfill a good percentage of our water needs.
There are so many benefits to harvesting rainwater: protecting our ocean, rivers, lakes and streams from runoff pollution; controlling moisture levels around the foundations of our homes and directing overflow to where we want it; providing oxygenated, un-chlorinated water to our plants; reducing water and wastewater bills; and conserving water.
Rainwater can be used to wash cars, water plants and gardens, wash our pets—just about anything except drinking. Drinking untreated, unfiltered rainwater directly is no longer advisable as—even in the most remote places on earth—rainwater has become polluted from chemicals, mostly from the production and use of fossil fuel and plastics.
To collect rain water, you will need rain barrels, which are available online, at Home Depot or at most garden stores. The price, size and style of rain barrels varies significantly with hundreds of choices from $45 to $600.
A general rule of thumb to utilize in the sizing of rain barrels is that one inch of rainfall on a 1,000-square-foot roof will yield approximately 600 gallons.
Some advice: Always keep the rain barrel lid/screen on and secure. If you have an open rain barrel, be sure to use 1/16” mesh screen to cover the top. After a rainstorm, wipe away any water that pools at the top of the barrel. These simple steps will keep your rain barrel mosquito-free.
I also treat the water with non-toxic liquid dish soap to keep rain barrels free of mosquitoes. The type of organic soap is not harmful for plants.
Alternatively you can use vegetable oil. Pour one to two cups (240 to 470 mL) of cooking oil into the water. Cooking oil will coat the top of the water and prevent any larvae that get into the barrel from getting oxygen. A thin layer of vegetable oil will not have a negative effect on any plants you water with the rain water.
For more information, see lacitysan.org; harvestingrainwater.com; greywatercorps.com/rainwater; socalwatersmart.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/scws_rainbarrels.pdf; and socalwatersmart.com/en/residential/rebates/available-rebates/rain-barrels-cisterns for rebates.
The Resilient Palisades Water Sages team will offer a series of three online classes presented by Marilee Kuhlmann of Urban Water Group on June 13, 20 and 27. Kuhlmann is a licensed landscape contractor who specializes in creating drought-resilient landscapes incorporating integrated rainwater harvesting and irrigation systems.
This page is available to subscribers. Click here to sign in or get access.