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LA Stormwater Hero Spotlight: Lynetta McElroy
LA Stormwater Hero Spotlight: Lynetta McElroy Image

At LA Stormwater, we love learning about people doing incredible work in their community. Lynetta McElroy is the perfect example of someone who inspires us. The proud mother of two, the librarian at a local elementary school, a member of The Empowerment Congress West Neighborhood Development Council and the owner of eight rain barrels and counting, Lynetta also started the Grayburn Avenue Block Club in 2009 in the South Los Angeles neighborhood where she has lived for more than 30 years.

Lynetta began the block club after she realized that some of her neighbors had been living on the block for decades but still didn’t know each other. It helps to break the ice with new neighbors as well. For her, the block club has become a way to build community, pass down the rich history of the neighborhood, and strengthen the bonds between old and new neighbors. So, why are we featuring Lynetta McElroy? Maybe you were tipped off by the mention of her eight rain barrels.

Lynetta is an avid rainwater harvester, and she encourages her neighbors to harvest rainwater as well. At home, Lynetta uses the rainwater she collects from her barrels to water her decorative plants. She also composts, which gives her an endless supply of nutrient-rich fertilizer, and she recently replaced her lawn with California-friendly, native landscaping. Following her lead, Lynetta’s neighbors have switched to drought-resistant plants and acquired rain barrels.

When we spoke to her, she made it clear that she wants to encourage other communities to find an effort (like preventing stormwater pollution!) that they can get behind. She offered the following tips for Angelenos interested in rainwater harvesting:

  1. Get the strongest and most reasonably priced rain barrels with a screen to keep away insects (uncovered, stagnant water is the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes).
  2. Utilize the rebate that SoCal WaterSmart offers for purchasing rain barrels.
  3. Learn how to properly install the rain barrel and make sure that they’re elevated to allow water to flow.
  4. Use the collected rainwater on decorative outdoor plants. Never drink the collected rainwater.
  5. Clean out gutters at the beginning of the rainy season to ensure that there is nothing blocking water from flowing into your barrel when rain does begin to fall.

Through her work, Lynetta truly lives and leads by example! She emphasizes that everyone—from the students at her school to her 87-year-old neighbor—can play an important part in building a more sustainable LA. In Lynetta’s words, “We can’t all be perfect, but we can all do our part!”

This is the first article in a two-part series focusing on Lynetta McElroy and the Grayburn Avenue Block Club. Next time, we’ll discover how the Grayburn Avenue Block Club prepares their South Los Angeles neighborhood for the rainy season.

Do you know of another inspiring LA Stormwater Hero that we should talk to or do you have any questions or comments? Let us know by sending us an email at lastormwater@lacity.org. 


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