Building Resiliency to Drought With Stormwater Rebates

As of late April 2021, parts of the Bay Area, including Palo Alto, are considered to have entered an extreme drought phase according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. (The drought map on this webpage was last updated on 6/10/2021).

Drought map image


Fragile local water supplies are stressed by decreased precipitation associated with climate change in some areas of the state. When a storm event does occur, rain falling on roofs, parking lots, streets, and other hard surfaces runs directly into our City’s storm drain system, creeks and San Francisco Bay (Bay). Our communities are losing valuable water that could be used or stored for use when it is needed most.

Installing Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) such as rain barrels, cisterns, rain gardens, and pervious pavement to capture runoff from these hard surfaces is multi-beneficial in both rainy and dry months.

During the rainy season

All GSI measures are meant to collect, slow, and clean stormwater runoff. This can help reduce ponding in our neighborhoods and allow cleaner waters to flow to our creeks and the Bay. 

Rainwater harvesting measures, such as rain barrels and cisterns, collect and save rainwater for when it is needed, reducing demand for potable water (which can also decrease your water bill). The amount of water you can collect will depend on your roof area as well as the capacity of your rainwater harvesting system. For example, rain falling on a 1,000 square-foot roof will yield approximately 300 gallons of water. On average, Palo Alto receives 9.5” of rainfall annually meaning that you can collect almost 6,000 gallons of water annually if you have the storage capacity.

Rain barrel

rain barrel



Other GSI measures that allow infiltration such as rain gardens and pervious pavement also help reduce ponding in the area while replenishing local groundwater reserves. Rain gardens can also support pollinator and wildlife habitat through the choice of vegetation used.


Rain garden

rain garden

Pervious pavement

Pervious Pavement

During the wet season

In order to take advantage of rainwater harvesting, it is necessary to have them installed prior to the dry season. GSI allows us to prepare for the upcoming dry and drought seasons ahead.

Visit our Stormwater Rebate page to learn more about the rebates available!

Other actions you can take

Report water waste: Help save water by either reporting water waste online, emailing, or leaving a voice message at (650) 496-6968.

Use recycled water: The City of Palo Alto offers recycled water for permitted commercial users and residents at the Regional Water Quality Control Plant. Please visit the How to Get Recycled Water page to learn how to get a permit. 

Understand your water use: Valley Water offers a water wise indoor survey kit to help you identify potential leaks. Get started and learn about water conservation.

Landscape conversion: Did you know that lawns can use up to 50% of outdoor water use? Replacing your lawn or pool to a low-water use landscape and retrofitting existing irrigation equipment with approved high-efficiency irrigation equipment can help you save water. Learn more about the landscape conversion rebate.

Water-saving devices: Valley Water offers free water conservation devices, as well as resources to help you select efficient appliances and tips for saving water every day. We also offer free resources for businesses and commercial facilities. Learn more about Valley Water's resources.