On Monday, December 3, 2012, Skyline High School's Green Energy Academy celebrated the installation of two 2825 gallon rainwater catchment tanks near the school's science wing.
The tanks were installed by Dig Cooperative, an employee owned ecological design/build firm, as part of a citywide program to advance rainwater management, conservation and storm-water run-off.
The project was funded by a grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. (More details about Oakland's program here)
~Slides by Ingrid Severson of DIG Cooperative
As part of the celebration, Dig's Babak Tondre provided an overview of the system to Tracy Ostrom's AP Environmental Science students- explaining the need for rain water catchment, design and operation details, and job opportunities in environmental contracting.
According to Tondre, Skyline's system captures rain from a portion of Building 60's roof by filtering rain just before it enters the downspouts, then routing the downspouts to an underground first flush filter system before rainwater is collected in the barrels.
"After the Oakland Hills fire, the city became very concerned about the erosion impacts from run-off and the need for local storage of water, especially in the Oakland hills," explains Tondre, "Also, most of California's water falls in the winter- so catchment is needed to extend the use of rain water in to the summer drought months."
Ostrom plans to use the catchment system as a teaching tool throughout the grade levels in the Green Energy Academy. "In biology, we might run tests to see how seeds and plants grow when watered with rainwater vs. treated city water. ·In physics, we can experiment with student-made water wheels to investigate how hydro-electric systems work."
Dig completed its installation of the barrels just days before the recent rains. Two rain events were enough to completely fill the two barrels. Overflow spouts direct extra water into a native plant garden and drainage system.
In the coming weeks, Green Energy Academy students will install new planter boxes next to the rain barrels and investigate human powered pump systems to increase water flow when watering landscaped areas of campus.
In the long term, Ostrom hopes to explore expanded uses of harvested rain noting, "the barrels are installed just outside of two restrooms- wouldn't it be great to use rain water instead of treated water for our toilets?"