LA StormCatcher Project – A New Approach To Address Stormwater Runoff

An EfficientGov article (2016-03-02) highlighted an innovative pilot project dubbed “LA StormCatcher” undertaken last year by Los Angeles County and the City of Los Angeles to use “smart” rain cisterns to collect and release stormwater runoff. The cisterns would be monitored and controlled through the Internet and the collected water would be used to meet local water needs and recharge groundwater stores. The public-private partnership could provide another option for Maryland counties that are struggling to address stormwater runoff issues.  From the article:

Since last November, the city and several partners have been testing technologically-advanced cisterns at eight residential properties in L.A. County as part of a first public-private stormwater partnership, according to the Water Environment Federation (WEF). …

The project, by the Los Angeles County Flood Control District, Department of Public Works, Department of Water and Power, and Bureau of Sanitation along with engineering firm Tetra Tech and the nonprofit TreePeople, uses stormwater modeling data to predict water collection levels in the cisterns. A valve can be opened to release water before it rains, if need be. The cisterns collect water through underground pipes that are fed by the roof. The water from the cisterns flows to rain gardens that help recharge underground aquifers, and homeowners can access the water to wash cars, water trees, bathe dogs, etc…

infographic-stormcatcherFrom an older WEF Stormwater Report article

As many as eight homeowners in South Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley will participate. Each home will be equipped with a cistern that can hold nearly 5000 L (1320 gal) of water. …

Runoff captured from homeowner rooftops will flow through underground pipes into the cistern. A filter will remove pollution and dirt before the water flows into a rain garden. This water will recharge the local groundwater aquifer, rather than flowing into the area storm sewers and eventually the Pacific Ocean.

The system “reinvents our region’s relationship to the rain—with the potential to turn two million rooftops in LA County into a distributed network of storm-catching sponges,” said County Public Works Director Gail Farber.

According to Los Angeles City Mayor Eric Garcetti, the city has imported 89% of its water in recent years and receives only 11% from local sources. The county captures enough rainwater in a year to meet the needs of two million people, said Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl. “But that is, to coin a phrase, just a drop in the bucket. We need to do much, much more.”


Useful Links

Water Environment Federation Website

LA StormCatcher Q&A Website (by TreePeople)