By Matthew Freiberg, Greening Urban Watersheds Program Manager
After the final bell on a foggy Friday last month, students, teachers, parents, and staff of the Alice Fong Yu School kicked off their weekend with a celebration of the school’s new rainwater harvesting system.
And the weather couldn’t have been more appropriate. About a half hour before the event was to start, the skies opened up and gave the system its first good soaking, sending raindrops from the school’s gardenshed roof through a pipe and into a large storage cistern. Then, as if on cue, the rain stopped just as school children streamed into the garden dawning fashionable trash sack raincoats.
The event began with some opening remarks recognizing the hard work dedicated to the project by students, parents, and staff of Alice Fong Yu. After Lanita Hernandez from the San Francisco Community Challenge Grant Fund cut the big blue ribbon, two students drew the first pail of water from the freshly filled storage cistern. “I can’t wait to watch the rain tank fill up and use it to grow vegetables in our school garden,” exclaimed one eager student.
In a typical year, the new system will allow the school to capture and use up to 1,200 gallons of rain to water the school’s organic garden. But the benefits go far beyond just the school garden. Rain captured and used on site offsets 1,200 gallons of water that would otherwise be taken from the city’s precious water supply. Every gallon of rain captured onsite is another gallon of stormwater that does not have to be treated in the city’s combined sewage system. If this system were to be replicated across the entire city, it could have a significant impact on expanding the city’s water supply, reducing water treatment costs, and improving water quality in the San Francisco Bay.
The Watershed Project highly encourages home and business owners to follow in the footsteps of the Alice Fong Yu School and save the rain. Rain barrels are one of the easiest and most affordable ways to make your property more watershed friendly.
For those who live in Oakland, The Watershed Project and The City of Oakland have formed a partnership to provide greater incentives by offering rain barrels discounted up to 75% off. Check out the program’s website to learn more about how you can get your rain barrel in time to detain the rain this winter! There is also plenty of information about upcoming workshops and presentations that will be held throughout Oakland in the coming months.
Any questions about rainwater harvesting or how you can make your homes or business more watershed friendly can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.