Sunday, November 6, 2011

Rain Water Harvesting at Temple University

Water is one of our most precious resources.  At the Ambler Arboretum of Temple University, there are many examples of water-wise gardening including xeriscaping and managing stormwater through rain gardens.  While I was Horticulture Supervisor at Temple, I learned about rain water harvesting using underground cisterns.  I thought this would be a fantastic way to take our stormwater management to a new level.  I worked with colleagues from the Department of Landscape Architecture and Horticulture as well as the Center for Sustainable Communities, Dr. Sasha Eisenman and Susan Spinella, to write a Growing Greener Grant through the DEP to fund an underground rainwater harvesting cistern.  We were awarded the grant and two cisterns were installed during my last week working at Temple.  What a great send-off!

Rain garden specialists, Complete Aquatics, donated their services in-kind to install two underground cisterns which will capture and hold 12,000 gallons of water at a time from the Temple Ambler greenhouse and headhouse roofs.  The water will then be pumped back into the greenhouse and used as irrigation water.  You can read more about the cistern on Temple's web site here.
Digging the pits.
The pits were leveled, lined with a thick rubber liner, and then coated with a layer of stone.
The pits are filled with hollow matrix units.  These provide stability and hold a surprising amount of weight.  These are often installed under parking lots.
Filling the pit with matrix units.  The large pipe will contain the pump.
They let me install the last matrix block :)
The rubber liner is then wrapped over the blocks and soil or gravel is filled in on top.  One of the systems will be under our parking lot and the other system will be planted with grass.
Pipes that will move our rain water from the roof to the underground cistern and then back into the greenhouse.
Laying the pipes.
These are pipes connected to the large underground cistern which has been covered with soil.  This one will have grass planted on top.

Two of my former students, Mike Ford and Lisa Falls came to help with the installation.

Each system will have a filter to remove any leaves and debris that might come off the roof.

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