Sustainability Benefits at Home and in the Community

September 2020

Sustainability Benefits at Home and in the Community

Improve your property, save money and help protect local creeks and San Francisco Bay

The City of Palo Alto has partnered with Valley Water to launch an updated Stormwater Rebate Program, which is available to Palo Alto residents and businesses. The improved, streamlined program offers rebates through a single Valley Water web portal for installation of rain barrels, cisterns, and now, rain gardens! For pervious pavement rebates, please contact the City.

Installing rain barrels, cisterns, pervious pavement, and rain gardens diverts rain away from surfaces and redirects it where water can be absorbed into soil or stored for future irrigation needs. These property improvements:

  • Turn hard surfaces that reflect heat into cooler, nature-based landscapes that benefit pollinators
  • Can reduce ponded water in winter and related flood risks
  • May decrease utility bills by conserving water for later irrigation needs
  • Reduce pollution that would otherwise travel to Palo Alto creeks and San Francisco Bay.
Rain Garden in Hoover Park

Rain gardens are landscaped areas designed to capture and treat rainwater that runs off a building’s roof. Runoff is directed towards a depression in the ground, which is planted with drought-tolerant plants. They can also provide attractive habitat for birds, butterflies, and other animals, especially when planted with native plants. Photo: Rain Garden in Hoover Park, Palo Alto, Photo credit: Grassroots Ecology

Rain Barrel in Palo Alto

Rain barrels are low-cost, effective, and easily-maintainable water conservation devices. Rain barrels are commonly used as a secondary source of water for landscape and garden irrigation in residential areas. They can be an easy solution to gutter system blockages and similar home improvement projects. Photo: Rain Barrel at a Home in Palo Alto 

City of Atlanta Cistern

Cisterns are larger water management devices that provide retention storage in above-ground or below-ground tanks. Cisterns are preferable for commercial or residential properties that wish to irrigate larger landscapes or water-intensive gardens rather than an average sized single-family property. Photo: Cistern in Atlanta, GA, Photo credit: City of Atlanta

Mitchell Park Pervious Pavement

Pervious Pavement is a porous solid form of pavement that allows surface runoff to collect into the ground or an underground pipe and slowly percolate through to the soil to irrigate landscapes. It is often used in parking areas, driveways, and walkways or on low-speed roads with limited vehicle traffic. Photo: Pervious Pavement at the Mitchell Park Library

For more information, visit, or contact Isabel Zacharczuk at or 650-329-2585 .

California Virtual Coastal Cleanup 2020, Protect Your Happy Place!

Coastal Cleanup

IT STARTS WITH YOU: Keeping trash and debris out of our local creeks and San Francisco Bay begins in your own neighborhood. Pick a Saturday this September from 9:00 am to noon and commit to a socially-distanced cleanup.

Sign up on Eventbrite and learn more about neighborhood cleanup guidelines.

People helping with cleanup efforts in Palo Alto can receive a trash grabber, garbage bags, and gloves, while supplies last.

To have supplies delivered to your residence or work within Palo Alto, or if you find any household hazardous waste such as batteries, pesticides, or other toxic materials, contact or (650) 329-2122. Please sign up on Eventbrite before contacting us.

Thank you for being an environmental steward and keeping our local creeks clean! For more information visit  

We Want To Hear From You

Your Opinion Matter

Attention to anyone who lives, works, or owns a business in Palo Alto! Your opinion is needed for a 5-minute survey regarding stormwater issues that may affect you.

Participants who complete a survey are eligible to win one of two 45-gallon rain barrels.

All participants will receive a 10% discount code for BlueBarrel Rainwater Catchment Systems.

Your feedback is incredibly valuable and very much appreciated!

Take the survey at:

FREE Garden-Ready Compost

Garden and Compost

Need more compost than you can make? Don’t have time to make your own? Pick up free compost at the new Compost Giveaway Station in Palo Alto.

Location: Eleanor Pardee Community Garden, 851 Center Road. Driveway to Garden is on Center Road near Martin Street

Hours: Tuesday – Sunday: 9:00 am – 4:00 pm; Monday: CLOSED

Availability: Compost is delivered weekly and available while supplies last.


  • Palo Alto residents only
  • Bring your own shovel and containers to put compost in
  • Only one car is allowed at the compost pile at a time
  • Pick up limited to 96 gallons per week
  • Drive carefully – gardeners and pedestrians enjoy the garden and are in the area

The Sunnyvale SMaRT Station also has free compost available for Palo Alto residents. Learn more at

Good News For Reusable Bags!

The CDC, Cal/OSHA, and Santa Clara County Public Health Department all agree – reusable bags can be used safely.

Please follow these guidelines to use your reusable bags safely:

  • Keep your reusable bags in your cart/basket. Do not allow them to make contact with anything or anyone else.
  • Bag your own groceries. If there are problems maintaining physical distance, you may need to place your items back in your cart and bag your items elsewhere.
  • Wash your reusable bags frequently.