We diligently turn off the tap while brushing teeth, take short showers and change landscapes to save water, so many people wonder if we could do more to capture fresh water cascading down storm drains into the ocean every time it rains.

In fact, there are public works projects capturing rainwater on a large scale, and things residents can do at home to capture rainwater on a smaller scale.

The United Water Conservation District’s Freeman Diversion sends water from the Santa Clara River into underground aquifers, replenishing groundwater supplies. This is especially useful to protect water supplies from contamination by seawater, which breaches some overdrawn underground pools.

In some areas, public works agencies use pervious paving material instead of concrete and asphalt, allowing water to sink into the ground. One such project, at the Ventura County Government Center, captures, treats and infiltrates stormwater runoff from a 39-acre parking lot.

The San Antonio Creek Spreading Grounds, a nearly completed project north of Ojai, will also divert and infiltrate storm water into groundwater. Construction is complete on this project, and it will go into operation after the National Marine Fisheries Service reviews flow data to ensure that the Ventura County Public Works Agency will leave enough “bypass flow” in San Antonio Creek to provide for potential steelhead trout and other aquatic inhabitants.

Many similar projects consist of long, channeled depressions (swales) in landscape with gently sloped sides. Within the bioswale, grasses, flowering shrubs or organic matter, such as mulch, slow water, allowing infiltration into soil and resulting in natural filtering of pollutants. Bioswales are often a requirement for new development.

Homeowners who want to help can redirect rain downspouts and slopes to shallow vegetated areas or gardens graded to keep and infiltrate the water onsite. Replacing concrete and asphalt with paving materials that have gaps, or removing a strip down the middle of the driveway and filling it with gravel, also allows water to flow through rather than run off.
On the net: http://uninc.vcstormwater.org/.

Rain barrels and compost bins

You can also capture rainwater with a rain barrel connected to a downspout from your roof. Rain barrels, along with compost bins, will be offered at a discount during a one-day event sponsored by Ventura County’s Community for a Clean Watershed and the County of Ventura’s Integrated Waste Management Division. On Saturday, Feb. 11, a truckload delivery is scheduled with two pickup locations: one at the County Government Center in Ventura and the other in Thousand Oaks. This is a pre-order event only. The deadline to purchase is Feb. 4, by 11 p.m. Order at www.RainBarrelProgram.org/VenturaCounty to buy rain barrels ($75/each + tax) and compost bins ($55/each + tax), or call 919-835-1699 for phone orders.