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Neighborhood Retrofit Water Conservation Demonstration Project

ELMER AVENUE – Neighborhood Retrofit Water Conservation Demonstration Project

So, where is Elmer Avenue and why is it important?

On Wednesday, January 19th – fifteen Eastside residents participating in the Parks and Open Space Committee visited Elmer Avenue in Sun Valley.

As part of an ongoing dialogue and learning opportunity between the Council for Watershed Health, their partners, and residents - the community visited and took an info-tour of this very special place. It is a unique and first of its kind major project designed to deal with several issues, but in particular: Pollution, flooding, and drought.

Olivia Murillo, a resident leader from East LA that took the tour, stated that she really liked how many different mini-projects within a larger project are integrated into the Elmer Avenue model, “I really like how they are conserving water – by catching it off the roofs with the barrels and then feeding the trees water from there. Also nice was how they are saving energy by installing the solar street lights.”

It is very true that there are many moving parts to the Elmer Avenue experiment – and to make it all happen there was a very intense and deliberate effort to involve the community in the process.

There are 24 homes on Elmer Avenue and the entire community there was brought in to contribute in some way. Some residents even volunteered to have water-saving projects constructed onto their property.

These included adding rain barrels, but also installing special water capturing strategy called “bio-swales” which is a creek-shaped structure made up of mulch, rocks, which will “slow it down, spread it out, and sink it in.” When asked about these strategies, Blanca Chavez, another East LA community leader that took the tour stated, “I loved the driveways some homes had that were designed, from my understanding, to slow down and capture water running off roofs.” She was talking about the permeable stone driveways that assist in the water conservation this project included.

East LA community leaders are currently taking inventory on how to better improve parks programs, access to parks and also developing relations with organizations to develop multi-benefit projects similar to the Elmer Avenue Neighborhood Retrofit Project.

Below is a short list of the highlights of the Elmer Street Avenue Neighborhood Retrofit

Demonstration Project:

-Captures and treats runoff water from 40 acres of area.

-6,000 square feet of drip irrigation.

-1,560 square feet of permeable driveway or pavement

-Planting of at least 15 new type of plants, 50% native to the area.

-Planting of 23 new native trees installed by residents and volunteers.

-13 rain barrels, each catching 55 gallons, and runoff used to drip irrigate plants or trees.

-16-acre-feet “recharge” of water annually (from water captured and stored under the underground water-table)

-6 new completely solar-powered street lights. ….

And much more. For more info visit:

For more information on the Parks and Open Space Committee:

Email: Call: (323) 685-5691

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