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 needs approximately 18 inches of pipe length per gallon (The Texas Manual on Rainwater Harvesting ,2005).
From the first-flush diverters, the water will be directed into a storage container. Cisterns are the usual storage containers for harvesting rainwater. These large containers vary in regards to what they are made out of, some of which include: fiberglass, wood, metal, and concrete. These cisterns are the most expensive component of rainwater harvesting (The Texas Manual on Rainwater Harvesting, 2005). Unless planned into the design of a building beforehand, they usually sit above ground and are eyesores for all to see. An inexpensive alternative to these cisterns would be the use of rain barrels.
Rain barrels can be purchased for $80 to $100 and come in different shapes and sizes from 55 gallons to 180 gallons (Reduce storm water runoff with a rain barrel, 2011). Submerged at the bottom of the rain barrel would be a ? hp water pump. A floatation device would be connected to the pump, triggering the pump to turn on when the water reached a certain level. The pump will push the water to the fountains through ? inch PVC pipe that will be laid down in regulation with city plumbing requirements. These pipes will run from the barrels to the spicket near the fountain.
An Anti-Siphon Valve will connect the PVC pipe to the water line in order to prevent contaminating the city water supply. Along the pipeline from the rain barrel to the fountain will be waterproof sensory wires. The purpose of these wires is to control for overflowing. When the water level in the fountain reaches a certain point, the floatation device inside the fountain will signal to the pump, shutting it off immediately. When the pump shuts off, the water will be allowed to flow freely out of the barrel through another PVC pipe, leading to surrounding plant beds.
In addition to the price difference, rain barrels are much less of an eyesore, which is important for Austin College’s reputation for an aesthetically pleasing campus. A possible suggestion would be to use the rain barrels as art pieces on the campus. Art students would be allowed to paint or sculpt them into pieces of art. Another suggestion would be to create a decorating contest using the barrels. This idea would increase student involvement on campus and also raise awareness on what actions the school is taking to conserve water and “Go Green. ”
In one study by Winter and Cvetkovich, they looked at the connection on conservation-related behaviors between a natural resource management agency and individual citizens. Their findings showed that trust is associated with a range of attitudes and behaviors related to conservation, and that it mediates these behaviors (Winter & Cvetkovich, 2010). When individuals trusted that the organization or agency was actually participating in the conservation behaviors that they claim to be doing, the individuals were more likely to participate in those behaviors as well.
In another study, Schelly, Cross, Franzen, Hall, and Reeve looked at two different high schools from the same district that were practicing two different styles in reducing energy consumption. One high school had achieved moderate energy savings, while the other had reduced its electricity usage by 50% over several years. The results showed that more integrated efforts by faculty and staff yielded greater success (Schelly et al. , 2011). Success is based on structural changes, individual behavioral change, but the most important factor is making sure that there is an organizational culture emphasizing conservation.
Implementing Rainwater Harvesting on the Austin College campus would yield many benefits. Not only would water bills decrease, student involvement could potentially increase. The studies showed that people were more inclined to practice “green” behaviors when they trusted that their organization was practicing the same behaviors. With this study in mind, students may take up “greener” habits when they see the school is as well. This is similar to the “Monkey see, Monkey do” effect. Also, students would be more involved with contributing to the campus art pieces.
Although this is only a small step in water conservation for the Austin College campus, it points the school in the right direction, or should we say the “Green direction. ” References Austin college. (2012). Retrieved from http://www. austincollege. edu/ Peterson, D. (2012). Harvested rainwater. Retrieved from http://rainwater. sustainablesources. com/ Reduce storm water runoff with a rain barrel. (2011, April 15). Retrieved from http://www. brentwoodmo. org/DocumentView. aspx? DID=887 Schelly, C. , Cross, J. , Franzen, W. , Hall, P. , & Reeve, S. (2011).
Reducing energy consumption and creating a conservation culture in organization: a case study of one public school district. Environment and Behavior, 43(3), 316-343. The Texas Manual on Rainwater Harvesting, third edition. Texas Water Development Board. 2005. (http://www. twdb. state. tex. us/pubications/reports/Rainwater HarvestingManual_3rdedition. pdf). U. s. climate data. (2011). Retrieved from http://www. usclimatedata. com/climate. php? location=USTX1255 Winter, P. L. , & Cvetkovich, G. T. (2010). Trust mediates conservation-related behaviors. Ecopsychology, 2(4), 211-219.