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TreePeople to host workshops on capturing rainwater

March 20, 2012 | 10:41 am

Rain barrelDuring the wet season, the city of L.A. sends an average of 100 million gallons of storm water into the Pacific each day. That water had been handled as pollution for years, because rainwater picks up effluents that then flush into the ocean untreated.

But rainwater is also a resource that can be harvested and reused. The environmental nonprofit TreePeople is hosting workshops to teach homeowners exactly how. A March 24 event at TreePeople's Center for Community Forestry in Beverly Hills will focus on so-called waterworks, or the plumbing of rainwater catchment, including rain barrels, rain chains and downspout disconnects. Participants can buy 55-gallon barrels at a discounted rate of $100, $25 of which is tax deductible. Admission to the four-hour workshop is free, but registration is required.

The March 25 workshop at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles will center on earthworks -- how to contour the earth to capture rain and use permeable pavement. The three-hour workshop is free, though participants will need to pay museum admission, which is $5 to $12. Registration is required.

Separating rainwater catchment into water- and earth-works sessions "helps people's heads not explode," said Lisa Cahill, TreePeople's senior manager for sustainable solutions. "It's a lot for people to take in."

During the workshops, participants will learn how to calculate the amount of rain that falls on their home during a storm and how to translate those inches of rain into gallons that can be collected. They then learn about the advantages and disadvantages of various catchment systems. Each workshop also includes information on rain gardens, native plants and pest management, Cahill said.

Participants who live in the northeast San Fernando Valley can translate their DIY knowledge to L.A. Rain Gardens,  a 4-month-old pilot program through the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power that reimburses homeowners for installing rain gardens.

Homeowners in the area are eligible for up to $1,000 from the LADWP. Interested homeowners have the option of working with Generation Water, a company that will design, install and plant a 100-square-foot rain garden for free, or doing the work themselves and receiving a reimbursement from the utility. To qualify, homeowners' roofs need to be at least 400 square feet and have rain gutters installed on the portion that will supply the rain to the garden.


Welcome to the world of Waterwalls

Setting up a home rain-catchment system

California enacts law to encourage storm water reuse

After two years of eco-living, what works and what doesn't

-- Susan Carpenter

Photo: A rain barrel outside a Mar Vista home collects water from the roof. Credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times