Harvest Rainwater

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Note: The following is general information regarding rainwater harvesting, if your home/property needs to adhere to low impact development (LID) requirements, please visit our LID web page.

Rainwater harvesting is a simple and easy way to protect our environment, conserve water and save money.

By capturing rainwater that drains off rooftops, residents reduce the amount of stormwater flowing into LA’s local creeks, rivers and ocean keeping dangerous pollutants like pesticides, fertilizers, automotive fluids and pet waste out of regional waterways.

Rainwater harvesting is also an excellent way to conserve water. By using the captured rainwater on outside plants, residents offset their potable water use and lower their water bill.


Many online retailers offer rain barrels for purchase. The Metropolitan Water District offers rebates for purchased rain barrels hat are 50 gallons or larger in size. 

Periodically, the Department of Public Works’ Keep LA Beautiful offers free rain barrels to LA residents. Keep an eye on their website for details on upcoming events.


Rain Barrel Installation
The installation of a rain barrel is relatively easy. With the correct tools, most rain barrels can be installed within a few hours. Just remember to safely elevate your rain barrel for proper connection to a hose and to assist in the flow of water.

For assistance, please view our Rain Barrel Installation Video and our Rain Barrel Installation Webinar.

Rain Barrel Operation
Rain barrels are simple to operate - simply open the spigot or attach a hose and use the captured water to irrigate plants. Never drink the captured rainwater! It is unsafe for people and pets to drink. To receive a free “Do Not Drink” sticker, please fill out the form and submit.

Rain Barrel Maintenance
To maintain your rain barrel, periodically check that everything is in working order. Inspect and clean your home’s gutters and downspouts and rain barrels biannually, cleaning out any collected leaves/debris and checking for cracks. Keep rain barrels tightly covered to prevent mosquitoes from breeding and to keep critters and children safe.

For more information on rain barrel maintenance, please view our Rain Barrel Maintenance Webinar


How much rainwater will a rain barrel capture in a storm?
For every inch of rain that falls on one square foot of a roof, a rain barrel will collect a little more than a half of a gallon in your rain barrel - .6 gallons to be exact. So if your home is 1,500 square feet and one inch of rain falls on your roof, you’d have the potential to collect .6 gallons x 1,500 square feet = 900 gallons of rainwater. That’s a lot of water!

Can I give the rainwater to my pets?
No. Captured rainwater contains pollutants that are not safe for humans or our furry friends to drink. As a reminder, you can place one of our free Do Not Drink stickers on your barrel. The form to request one is below.

Will my rain barrel attract mosquitoes?
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.

How do I clean my rain barrel?
A rain barrel should only be cleaned if water quality declines. If your barrel is a closed system, is UV resistant and properly located in the shade, the water is actually cleaner and healthier for your garden if you do not scrub out your rain barrel due to a biofilm that forms on the inside of the barrel. However, if you have algae and particulates in your rain barrel, empty your rain barrel, and use a soft brush and a gentle detergent (optional) to scrub the barrel clean.

Will extreme heat damage my rain barrel?
Most rain barrels are made of heavy-duty, water-tight plastic, which should be able to handle LA’s high temperatures. Placing your rain barrel out of direct sunlight will stop algae growth and keep cracks from forming.

How can I make my rain barrel more attractive?
Customizing your rain barrel is easy to do. Rain barrel wraps are available online or you may paint it any color or design you’d like. Be sure to use paint designed for plastic surfaces.

What should I do with a damaged rain barrel?
If your rain barrel should become damaged and no longer able to collect rainwater, please empty your barrel and call LA Sanitation and Environment’s Customer Care Center at (800) 773-2489 to coordinate next steps.


Fill out the form to receive your free Do Not Drink rain barrel sticker (the link will take you to another page for the form). You must be a city of Los Angeles resident to receive the sticker.