Rainwater capture gaining ground in California

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Molly Peterson/KPCC

Jeanne Kuntz says she'll use captured rainwater from her new rain barrel to water her already efficient vegetable garden.

As California closes the books on an unusually wet winter, a new state assembly bill seeks to hold on to that water better in the future.

Rainwater is beginning to look like lost money to lawmakers like state Assemblyman Jose Solorio. He'd like to clarify existing law and permit homeowners to capture what falls on their properties.

His bill, AB 275, would also allow landscaping contractors to install water capture systems on properties so homeowners could divert the water for irrigation or other non-drinking uses.

Rainwater capture also lessens the impact of people on their environment. Outdoor watering is a huge part of Southern California's water demand. Stormwater runoff from properties, into streets and urban storm systems carries pollutants, bacteria and oil into the ocean.

Some urban centers are experimenting with rainwater capture. The city of Los Angeles began to place rain barrels at homes in Mar Vista last year, and that project’s expanding to Hollywood.

Sacramento lawmakers could take action on the Solorio bill next month.

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