LA’s Alley’s – the New Frontier in Water Reclamation

While the Bay Area had normal precipitation, a mix of rising global temperatures conspired to block El Niño’s storms from hitting Southern California, establishing a clear climate dichotomy within the region.

As California enters the fifth year of its drought, Los Angeles is taking note of these factors and adapting its infrastructure to improve the water quality and the drought resilience of the city.

Following the examples set by Chicago and Seattle, Los Angeles is working on transforming alleyways into networks of green alleys, capturing Earth’s most precious resource, water.


The main purpose of the project, a joint effort by the city agencies, its Council and the Trust for Public Land, is to save as many drops as possible by greening the more than 2000 paved alleyways that exist in the city of Los Angeles. 

To reduce its reliance on “imported water” by half by 2025, Los Angeles is looking for water wherever it exists. The alleys are expected to capture more than 700,000 gallons of water a year. The newest alley, soon to be finished, would be joined by at least five more alley networks in South Los Angeles.

View_of_urban_runoff_discharging_to_coastal_watersThe alleys, made of paving materials that allow water to seep through, funnel water into underground storage receptacles, preventing water from rain, hoses, fire hydrants and other sources from becoming one of the largest sources of marine pollution. 

The most common uses for harvested stormwater are agricultural and landscape irrigation, replenishing groundwater basins and flushing toilets. Recycling facilities, such as SMURFF, improve the water quality through a series of scientifically proven advances in water technology.

The greening of the alleys is just part of a bigger sustainable strategy, in which the city of Los Angeles encourages local government bodies and commercial building owners to upgrade their facilities to water efficient restrooms by using waterless and hybrid urinals.

Investing in both water recycling initiatives and water saving technologies helps to strengthen the city’s long term green infrastructure and drought resiliency.