City Of Oakland, CA Rain Barrel Case Study


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Oakland's watershed is comprised of 15 main creeks, 30 tributaries, Lake Merritt and the Bay estuary. In 2009 Lake Merritt was listed as an impaired water body due to organic enrichment/low dissolved oxygen and high levels of trash. The trash primarily enters the lake through urban runoff and storm sewers. Once the water body or segment is listed as impaired, the state is required by the Clean Water Act to establish Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for the pollutant causing the conditions of impairment. Forced by the Clean Water Act to establish a basic structure for controlling pollutants entering the City of Oakland’s Lake Merritt they implemented a rain barrel program.  The City partnered with the California’s Water Boards and the Clean Water State Revolving Fund to launch the program in January 2010.


How it Works: Rain Barrels for Stormwater Management
Stormwater pollution occurs in urban areas and in land that has been disturbed. Water running over these areas carries dirt, oil, trash, plastic and other pollutants into our creeks, lakes, and bay. Through a three-year initiative funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the Oakland Watershed & Stormwater Management Rain Barrel Program provides residents access to rain barrels at a significantly reduced cost.

The promotion of rain barrels was concentrated in the North Hills Phoenix Community with over 20,000 residents. In the first 16 months the city sold over 1,200 rain barrels at a reduced, subsidized price. Oakland’s stormwater/ watershed program educated the citizens on how to set up and maintain the rain barrels. It was important that once each rain barrel was full that it slowly released the collected rainwater within 48 hours.
With each rainfall over 80,000 gallons of rainwater is collected and slowly released to prevent urban runoff from polluting Lake Merritt. The City of Oakland will continue the rain barrel program for two more years with sale events once a month. To help with distribution, data gathering and promotion the city has contracted services with local businesses and non profit organizations.

Below is a chart documenting the location and total gallons of rainwater collected. 

Oakland set the following criteria for the request for quote:

Units must have the following characteristics:

  • Made from materials that are opaque to prevent penetration by sunlight and algae growth.
  • At least one standard, durable plastic or metal garden hose valve fitting installed near the base as an outlet.
  • Overflow and linking fittings installed near the top.
  • Sealed lid with small, child proof, mosquito proof, and screened inlet.
  • Units must be well balanced over a stable base to prevent tipping.
  • Units must not have sharp edges or features that could cause injury.
  • Minimum 3 Year Warranty.
  • Maintenance and assembly instructions.
  • References and a proven ability to deliver large quantities, such as an estimated 500 units, from November to December 2009.
  • Manufactured in the United States (Federal stimulus funding requirement).*
  • User technical assistance.
  • Dedicated City of Oakland web page with E-commerce web site sales (electronic “shopping basket”) and support.  Include sample web pages and reference web pages currently active.
  • Units made from recycled materials.

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