Oak Ridge North considers rainwater harvesting education program

The city of Oak Ridge North is considering a rainwater harvesting program for 2015 to help residents save on irrigation costs and improve water conservation efforts, City Manager Vicky Rudy said.

Rainwater harvesting systems allow residents to collect rainwater as it runs off from a high point, such as a rooftop, and store it in a barrel for later use. Harvested water is typically used for irrigation systems as users are able to run drip irrigation lines or water spouts directly into their garden, said Bob Dailey, public education coordinator for The Woodlands Joint Powers Agency.

The ORN program could include education efforts, a town hall meeting where residents can learn about rain harvesting systems and their installation, and opportunities to preorder discounted rain harvesting barrels from retailers through a partnership with the city, Rudy said.

"It would be a small program," she said. "It is going to be about 33 to 66 people that are likely to be interested in this program here. I think we would probably end up [hosting a meeting] twice because I feel the first time it is an [educational experience] for people—your pioneers will come out and try it, then their neighbors will see it and the next time they will go, 'Oh, I would like to do that.'"

The WJPA launched a similar program in summer 2013—offering The Woodlands residents opportunities to preorder rain barrels at a discounted cost through the agency. The agency sold 600 rain barrels during the first pick up date, followed up by another 100 barrels as residents learned about the rain harvesting systems from their neighbors, Dailey said.

"Even the people that were supplying the rain barrels were amazed because they had never sold that many before," Dailey said.

Rudy said educating residents about local water issues is important for water conservation in Montgomery County.

"They are raising children who are also learning this in school, but they need to see water conservation in action if we are going to change the way people use water," Rudy said. "It is one of those commitments we need to make to our community and the earth because it is a critical moment in time in terms of water supply."


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