L.A. Gets Serious About Catching Rain Runoff.

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Containers to catch rainwater will be installed at up to 10 Los Angeles homes under an experimental program launched by city and county officials. The StormCatcher Project’s cistern systems are equipped to electronically monitor and regulate the amount of water captured from rooftops. The water could then be distributed to gardens and landscaping around the property.

With the majority of rainwater in Los Angeles going to the ocean, efforts such as these are underway to retain more of the water, potentially allowing it to be absorbed into underground aquifers that serve as the local water source, officials said today.

The program comes as county and city officials unveiled a 20-year stormwater capture plan that has a goal of collect an additional 100,000 to 200,000 acre-feet of rainwater each year by 2035. About 27,000 acre-feet of rainwater currently stays in the area per year.

Los Angeles County Public Works Director Gail Farber said the cisterns could “reinvent our region’s relationship with the rain -- with the potential to turn two million rooftops in LA County into a distributed network of storm- catching sponges.”

Los Angeles Department of Water and Power water system manager Marty Adams said the cisterns could help “reduce our reliance on imported water.”

“As we work hard to make our water supply more sustainable and resilient than expensive water we bring in from far away, it is important to find opportunities like cisterns and other stormwater capture devices that offset drinking water use and replenish our local aquifer,” Adams said.

The county and city will share the $25,000 expense for acquiring and operating each of the cisterns for the next year, city Public Works spokesperson Heather Johnson said.

The homeowners taking part in the pilot program will not pay for the costs of the cistern systems, Johnson said.

Mayor Eric Garcetti said the “smart” cisterns “will harness technology to enhance water capture and help us study ways to take this idea citywide.”

Garcetti joined other officials today to unveil one of the cisterns at the North Hollywood home of Carrie Wassenaar.

“I’m excited to see my home and garden become the laboratory for a new way of living with a changing climate,” Wassenaar said. “Now I have one more reason to love the sound of rain on my roof.”

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Chris Alexakiswater