On Capitol Square, a rainwater harvesting system with an 8,000 gallon underground cistern will provide recharge water to an existing fountain as well as irrigation for an existing shrub bed surrounding the fountain. The cistern collects stormwater runoff from surrounding brick walks. It also receives excess stormwater that enters the underdrain system from two of the Bell Tower rain gardens. An underground spring which was once piped to the storm drain also enters these rain gardens which feed into the cistern.
On a smaller scale, you can install a rain barrel at your house to capture runoff from the roof. There are many benefits to using rain barrels at home:
- FREE water! A rain barrel can save about 1,300 gallons of water during summer months.
- Store chemical-free water for use during dry periods. You can use this water to water your lawn and garden, wash your car, wash your window, and bathe your pet.
- It’s good for the environment! Rain barrels reduce water pollution by decreasing stormwater runoff. Groundwater recharge is also increased because the collected rainwater is used in areas that allow it to soak slowly into the ground.
So where can you get a rain barrel? Most garden centers sell rain barrels. You can also participate in a local rain barrel workshop. The James River Association has some upcoming workshops in our area.
And when you get a rain barrel, check out the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay’s Rain Barrel Publication for installation and maintenance tips.