UA students install a water harvest system on campus
UA students recently began installing a passive water harvesting system just west of the Art building on Park Avenue and Speedway Boulevard.
The project is part of a course taught by Hazel Cox, an adjunct lecturer in the department of soil, water and environmental science. Designed by students who took the course in 2009, the system will divert rainwater that runs off of the Art building’s roof into basins which will feed trees and other plants.
Rainwater harvesting is the collection and use of rainwater for landscaping or other needs. There are two types of rainwater harvesting: active and passive. Active harvesting involves the collection of run-off water in a cistern for later use, while passive harvesting involves the manipulation of the landscape to divert water toward plants.
Consisting of multiple basins that will be lined with stones to prevent erosion, the system will collect 30,000 to 80,000 gallons of water that run off the building every year, Cox said. Previously, that water would have quickly flowed into the street and then to the sewer.
“All it takes is some shovels and a bit of time, and you can save a whole bunch off your water bill,” Cox said.
The project was coordinated with Facilities Management who will add other plants to the area after the basins are constructed, according Woody Remencus, grounds crew chief for FM. The plans also call for a large basin in which a tree will be planted, though that effort will be carried out by a future class.
“It’s a tremendous benefit to the environment,” said Chris Pennick, a sustainable environmental science senior.
Cox said she thinks it is unfortunate that Arizona over-pumps the groundwater aquifer and draws
water from the Colorado River when we should be taking advantage of rainwater. “You can have a lush landscape in the desert without having to use additional irrigation water,” Cox added.
Having practiced rainwater harvesting all year in the classroom and in the field, some students said they are enthusiastic about creating a permanent fixture on the campus landscape.
“I haven’t done a lot of manual labor, so it’s hard. But it’s cool to know that it will be at the UA forever and that the UA supports it,” said Morgan Anderson, a biology and art senior. “I think it’s a great thing.”