Water LA

Powerful droughts. Flash floods. Fire. Erosion. Urban heat island effect. Aging and outmoded infrastructure. Polluted rivers. Los Angeles faces critical challenges to provide clean and reliable water supplies, and resilience for climate-related hazards such as drought and flood for the millions of people that live here. 

The USGS estimates that in an average year, nearly 200 billion gallons of water drains away to the ocean, carrying with it pollutants that are harmful to our communities and aquatic life.

At the same time, neighborhoods across Los Angeles County have been designed to drain rainwater into the ocean as quickly as possible. Engineers have long focused on large infrastructure projects to meet our flooding challenges and drinking water needs. However, we no longer have the luxury of relying on these large projects to allow us to be inefficient with the rest of our land and water.

Climate change is creating more extreme conditions, leading to longer dry periods and more intense storms, which is challenging community’s abilities to be what we call “climate resilient”.    A community is climate resilient when prepared for inevitable difficult periods like drought, and built to last through disasters we expect such as floods and fires.  If a community is not climate resilient, consequences may include extreme stress, property damage, economic impacts, and even physical harm. 


Water LA provides homes and communities with the tools they need to capture, conserve, and reuse local water sources throughout Los Angeles.

The purpose of Water LA is to empower communities and individuals to make active water management decisions through small, nature-based solutions implemented in the gardens, lawns, and sidewalks of private residences.  

With more than 1.68 million residential properties in Los Angeles County, private residences represent a majority of the region’s developed land area.  Through Water LA’s six strategies, residents can play a substantial role in building climate resilient communities and shifting the region’s dependency on imported water.  The simple and cost-effective set of landscape strategies capture, conserve and reuse water, either from rain storms or through the conservation and reuse of water at home.  Through the introduction of healthy plants and soil, water pollutants may be treated biologically before continuing on in the water cycle.

Water LA provides communities with the tools necessary to treasure our local resources, improve the quality of life, and face the region’s environmental challenges collectively.


WATER LA is a residence-based rainwater harvesting and urban acupuncture project which offers residents hands-on learning, assistance, and materials to design and complete watershed-friendly home improvements.


Goals of Water LA

Transform how neighborhoods across Los Angeles adapt for environmental challenges.

Enhance water supply, water quality, and flood protection across Los Angeles.

Communicate how to apply a variety of neighborhood water harvesting and conservation approaches that can be achieved cost-effectively.

Develop a simple set of city and county-approved standards and guides that all Los Angeles residents can use in the future

Educate residents about water issues.

Develop the skills of a green infrastructure workforce.

Support habitat and wildlife by planting native plants.

Build data and materials that can be used to help support ongoing efforts.


The Water LA Collaborative

The Water LA Collaborative was established to activate a network of cross-sector collaboration to engage communities in realizing the common goal of climate resiliency.  By working cooperatively, Water LA can catalyze a new normal in our relationship to water and land use, and support a grassroots effort to retrofit for resilience.


Meeting demand for nature-based solutions cannot be realized by any single entity.  Therefore, the Water LA Collaborative was designed to bring together nonprofits, community organizations, residents, small business, and local agencies in a collaborative, urban acupuncture approach to water sustainability in Los Angeles. 


The Water LA Collaborative aims to provide the scale of coordinated technical, social, and material support needed in a large metropolitan area, meeting the goals established in the region’s water conservation, water quality, and groundwater recharge plans assumes retrofitting between 16,850 and 23,600 single-family properties each year. 

Leveraging the collective expertise of leading local NGOs whose relationships extend throughout the region’s diverse communities, the Water LA Collaborative includes at its core the non-profits that Angelenos trust to inform them about the region’s watersheds as well as those with a long history of practical expertise in nature-based interventions (Heal the Bay, LA Waterkeeper, The River Project, North East Trees, Greywater Action, Theodore Payne Foundation). The Collaborative members then partner with local community-based organizations in the neighborhoods where we work to extend capacity across a wider network.


These groups mobilize their name recognition, relationships, social media presences, and educators to spread the word about urban acupuncture and resilience retrofits, linking residents to the technical information, expertise, and tools which will allow the ability to actualize the region’s water conservation, quality and recharge at a substantial scale. 


Collaborative Goals

• Facilitate the adoption of urban acupuncture strategies on 1% of residential parcels each year across Los Angeles County.

• Create and implement a nature -based solutions certificate pathway through Community Colleges that includes in-field experience.

• Support adoption of standardized plans for voluntary implementation.

• Establish community resource centers or Resilience Hubs throughout the region.


Collaborative Members


The River Project

The River Project (TRP) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization working toward a living Los Angeles River, nourished by a healthy watershed by natural resource protection, conservation, and enhancement. 



LA Waterkeeper

LA Waterkeeper in a non-profit 501(c)3 with the mission to protect and restore Santa Monica Bay, San Pedro Bay, and adjacent waters through enforcement, fieldwork, and community action.



Greywater Action

Greywater Action is a collaborative of educators who teach residents and tradespeople about affordable and simple household water systems that dramatically reduce water use and foster sustainable cultures of water. 



Heal the Bay

Heal the Bay is an environmental nonprofit dedicated to making the coastal waters and watersheds of Greater Los Angeles safe, healthy and clean. 



North East Trees

North East Trees is a community based, grassroots, environmental non-profit 501(c)(3) organization which was the first design build non-profit organization in Los Angeles. 



Theodore Payne Foundation

The Theodore Payne Foundation for Wild Flowers and Native Plants, Inc. is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to the understanding, preservation and use of California native flora. 




The work of Water LA is made possible with the support of our civic partners and funders.


Civic Partners




Implementation Partners