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Hall House

It wasn't raining in Los Angeles, but there was a deluge at a house in a South Central neighborhood. Two tons of water were dumped on the roof to show how a collection of BMPs could capture and hold all the rainwater onsite, even in a big storm. And indeed it did. If these concepts and designs were applied on a broad scale, precious resources would be saved for current and future generations to enjoy.

The 1920s Craftsman bungalow was retrofitted to function as a mini-watershed, incorporating effective strategies that work with the natural cycles of flood and 1920s Craftsman bungalow drought. These BMPs include: a cistern collection system; a vegetated swale; retention grading; the redirection of rainspouts; and a driveway drywell. These practices allow the rainwater to be captured, cleaned and stored onsite. The water then is either reused or allowed to percolate naturally into the groundwater; conserving much needed water, eliminating stormwater runoff, reducing water pollution, and minimizing area flooding.

The 3600-gallon cistern collects water from the rain gutters and stores it for irrigation in the dryer months. Cisterns also have potential as flood control devices. During a series of catastrophic storms, cisterns could be drained and filled to regulate the flow of water into the flood control system.

Retention grading

Retention grading was done in both the front and back yards of the property, creating depressions that hold rainwater until it can percolate into the ground. These "sunken gardens" are capable of handling a 10-inch flash flood that could occur during a 100-year storm event.


The driveway drywell helps keep motor oil and other pollutants out of the ocean. Rainwater flowing down the driveway runs through a grate and into a box buried in the lawn, where a mixture of sand and crushed rock captures pollutants.

By incorporating these BMP strategies, the Hall House has successfully demonstrated the effectiveness of sustainable practices.