SANTA CLARITA, Calif. — According to drought monitors, about 93% of California is considered to be in severe or extreme drought.

The most recent Sierra Nevada snowpack measurement on Friday showed it is at one of the lowest levels in decades.

What You Need To Know

  • Rain barrels cost $65, but the city covered $25, plus tax

  • The barrels had to be pre-purchased and all 100 sold out, according to the city

  • The next rain barrel program will be in October

  • The rain barrels can fill up in 45 minutes with just a half-inch of rain over a 1,000-square-foot roof

The city of Santa Clarita is helping locals prepare for watering their lawns during the ongoing drought with the help of Mother Nature and rain barrels. The city offered residents the opportunity to purchase rain barrels and pick them up Saturday.

The barrels cost $65, but the city covers $25 of the cost, so residents pay $40.

This past weekend was the third time the city has offered rain barrels to residents.

Most of the barrels were pre-purchased, and the city said the 100 available barrels had sold out right away. The barrels are food-grade and salvaged from onetime use items that would end up going to the landfills.

Some barrels were once used to store capers, pepperoncini and various other pickled vegetables.

Jason Larson picked up his barrel and loaded it in his SUV to take home. Larson said his family had been wanting to get a rain barrel for a while but had been putting it off.

“We have a small garden we started with our small children, and we thought why not now,” he said.

Larson said the barrel will help them save water but also offer his kids a lesson.

“It’s going to show them we can use Mother Nature without having to turn the hose on,” he said.

Before the barrel will be ready to go, Larson says he plans to construct a water capture system from his gutters.

“I don’t know the engineering part of it yet, but we’re gonna figure it out,” he said.

Residents were offered a class Saturday to understand how to best configure the roof water runoff to capture in their barrels. It was held at the same location as the barrel pickup.

Larson said it would probably be a quick couple-hour project. He said he is looking forward to the day he can stop using his outdoor tap to do his daily outdoor watering.

In late March, Gov. Gavin Newsom called on local water suppliers to move to Level 2 of their drought programs, which for some communities could mean reducing days people can water outdoor plants.

Santa Clarita Project Technician Kelly Kacmar said the city’s rain barrel program was planned well ahead of the governor’s announcement.

“So it was coincidental timing. But we are always encouraging year-round residents to conserve water,” she said.

Kacmar said capturing stormwater through the 50-plus-gallon barrels helps supplement household outdoor water supplies but also helps tackle a local issue.

“Mitigating the impacts of the stormwater runoff and stormwater pollution that could end up in the Santa Clara River here in the city of Santa Clarita,” she said. 

According to the city, the barrels can fill up fast — it only takes about a half-inch of rain over a 1,000-square-foot roof to fill a barrel in about 45 minutes.

Larson said he is hoping just because the rainy season ended a few days ago, at the end of March, that Mother Nature will still do her thing.

“So the weather is funny, right? I mean, we’ve had some pretty good spontaneous downpours,” he said.

And as the saying goes, April showers bring May flowers.

However, at the Larson household, perhaps the saying should be: April rains bring May gains to their vegetable garden.

They will hold the next rain barrel program in Santa Clarita in October.