Implementing Rainwater Harvesting

Topics: Water, Surface runoff, Stormwater Pages: 5 (1506 words) Published: November 4, 2012
Implementing Rainwater Harvesting
On The Austin College Campus

Austin College prides itself on having an aesthetically pleasing campus. These aesthetics include multiple flowerbeds, trees, and fountains. When sitting on one of the campus lawns, the sound of splashing water can be heard faintly coming from the fountains, adding to the calm and enjoyable experience. Although these fountains look wonderful and add to the college campus’s appearance, they are quite expensive to run. The amount of water the fountains hold varies from 9,000 to 15,000 gallons. All the water used to fill and run these fountains is taken straight from the city water line. Implementing Rainwater Harvesting on the Austin College campus could lower water bills and contribute to the campus’s effort to “Go Green.” Although it is not feasible for Austin College to use only collected rainwater for all their watering needs at this time, they could use collected rainwater to fill and run the fountains. This process would include catching the rainwater runoff from nearby campus buildings, storing the runoff in rain barrels, and distributing it to the fountains.

A major component to the Rainwater Harvesting notion is maximizing the collection of water from surface runoff. Since they would be using the water to fill and run fountains on campus, Austin College could utilize the buildings that are closest to the said fountains. On the campus, there are a multitude of large buildings that have the potential in providing all the water runoff the campus would need for this process. For example, the Wright Campus Center building has a square footage of 82,000 feet (Austin College, 2012). In a one-inch rainfall, half a gallon of water can be collected from just one square foot of roof (Reduce storm water runoff with a rain barrel, 2011). According to these numbers, Wright Campus Center has the capability to produce 41,000 gallons of water per one-inch rainfall. Ida Green is another large building on campus with a square footage of 38, 372 feet (Austin College, 2012). This building could potentially produce 19,186 gallons of water runoff in a one-inch rainfall. Intuitively, these numbers would only increase exponentially as the rainfall increased. Statistics taken from U.S. Climate Data show that the city of Sherman has an average annual precipitation of 42.1 inches. Most of the months average rainfall around two to three inches during the month, except for the months May and October, which averaged 5.39 and 5.16 inches respectively (U.S. Climate Data, 2011). Although this might not be a large of amount of rainfall compared to other areas, this is an adequate amount to practice rainwater harvesting. The Austin are only receives an average annual precipitation of 32 inches per year; however, rainwater harvesting is publicly accepted and the number of systems is increasing (Peterson, 2012).

The runoff is directed to the gutters and down the downspouts on the side of the buildings. Fortunately, Austin College buildings already have these in place, so there would not be an additional cost in installing them; however, they would need to install First-flush diverters at the ends of the downspouts. A first-flush diverter is a crafty way to direct the rainwater runoff to storage containers. What is unique about these devices is that they direct the first gallons of runoff that are filled with chemicals and bug pollutants away from the storage container and into a separate side storage compartment. Once this additional compartment is filled with water, a floating ball in the top of the said compartment seals the hole in which the water was routed through. By sealing the hole, new runoff is now allowed to freely flow into the storage container. The amount of water and necessary length of the diverter depends on how wide the diameter of the pipe is. A three-inch diameter pipe needs about 33 inches of pipe length per gallon, while a four-inch diameter pipe...
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