By Matt Freiberg
Last weekend, the students of Alice Fong Yu School had extra homework. Along with their parents and helpful neighbors, they were to build a new rainwater system for their school garden.
The Alice Fong Yu School‘s rainwater harvesting project was built by a massive community effort. Dozens of students, parents, neighbors, friends, and professional volunteers assisted with project design and installation. The group mounted gutters, poured cement, and planned a plumbing system. The collaborative effort paid off when the 660-gallon cistern was installed this month, just in time for the rainy season.
The rainwater harvesting project is designed to capture around 21 inches of annual rainfall (the Bay Area’s average) as it lands on of the school garden’s tool shed. The structure’s modest 89 square-foot roof will direct approximately 1,000 gallons of rainwater to the cistern, where the students can use the water to irrigate the school’s garden during dry months. This system will reduce the school’s need for a hose to water the garden, meaning less water is pumped from Hetch Hetchy.
In addition to providing the school with a new sustainable water source, the cistern will also be a teaching tool in the school’s garden classroom. Students will learn about the benefits of catching water from the sky, including the bonus that it’s free, it reduces the water that must be treated by the City’s combined stormwater and sewer network, and it helps keep the environment clean.
The Watershed Project is proud to have partnered with the Alice Fong Yu Parent Association– a group of passionate parents who are dedicated to their school and the environment. After much planning and coordination with the school’s garden coordinator, we were finally able to break ground last summer. Much of the project was paid for with sweat equity from the school staff, parents, and students. We were also delighted to secure cement donations from Bode Concrete and contractor support from Michael Heavey Construction.
If you are interested in learning about how you can install a similar rainwater harvesting system at your local school, business, or private residence, please email email@example.com for more information.