Debra Sachs, Executive Director
Alliance for Climate Action
585 Pine Street
Burlington, VT 05401
From: UVM Environmental Council business [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On
Behalf Of Erica M. Spiegel
Sent: Friday, April 15, 2005 9:05 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: [GREENUVM] Harvard uses Rainwater for Stormwater Recovery
FYI, from another list.
----- Forwarded message from Karyn Kaplan <[log in to unmask]> -----
From the Allston-brighton Tab:
It's raining, it's storing, the old ...
By Kathy Baskin/ Special To The Tab
Friday, April 8, 2005
Recently, Harvard University washed 19 vehicles - five buses, five vans,
eight pick-up trucks and one police cruiser - all without turning on the
Harvard University is the new owner of a SmartStorm Rainwater
Recovery System at its vehicle maintenance facility on North Harvard Street
in Allston. The system captures clean stormwater runoff from Harvard's
vehicle maintenance facility rooftop and stores it in cisterns for vehicle
washing and lawn irrigation. Using recycled rainwater, Harvard could wash
more than 50 vehicles without running out of water.
In urban and suburban areas, such as Allston and Newton, clean
rainwater lands on the pavement and becomes contaminated by pollutants such
as sediments, oil and fertilizers before being sent rushing by pipe to the
Charles River or another local water body.
Compounding the issue, impervious surfaces, such as pavement and
buildings, prevent the rain from soaking into the ground, thus limiting the
replenishment of the groundwater that keeps our streams and rivers flowing
during the hot dry months of summer. With rainwater unable to seep into the
groundwater, rivers including the Charles, suffer from low flows, high
temperatures and increased pollution. Wetlands dry up, and fish that depend
on flowing rivers for survival die off.
At the same time that our stormwater is directed to the river through
pipes, we commonly rely on perfectly good drinking water for outdoor
washing and watering. A rainwater recovery system addresses both of these
issues by redirecting the rainwater to a cistern for later outdoor use,
thereby helping to reduce the use of drinking water.
Rainwater recovery systems "keep water local," restoring the balance
between land and rainwater that existed prior to development of roads and
buildings. A number of these systems have been installed at homes and
businesses in the upper Charles River watershed, where communities depend
on groundwater for water supply and face strict watering bans starting as
early as March and running through October. Rainwater recovery systems
reduce demand on drinking water supplies for irrigation, reduce polluted
discharges, and enhance aquifer storage, particularly during the summer
months, helping to sustain public drinking water supplies and increase
Charles River flow.
Since last winter, when the system was installed, Harvard has saved
money while conserving 2,000 gallons of water each month using rainwater to
wash its vehicles. Previously, Harvard's vehicle wash water came from the
Massachusetts Water Resources Authority's Quabbin Reservoir. The new system
limits the amount of stormwater that is combined with untreated wastewater
and discharged to the Charles River during rainstorms.
"Harvard University is pleased to be contributing to the cleanup of
the Charles River while at the same time conserving water," said Carl
Tempesta, manager of Harvard University's Passenger Transport and Fleet
The system features a drywell, which allows any excess water from the
cisterns to soak into the ground. The project was developed by the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency and NSTAR. The Charles River Watershed
Association managed the project and the system was designed and installed
by RainWater Recovery, LLC.
In addition to conserving water and cutting down on the pollution to
the Charles, the SmartStorm System at Harvard is intended to inspire other
outdoor water users to recycle their rainwater. Robert W. Varney, regional
administrator of EPA's New England Office, calls this, "... a project that
will provide useful information on how to solve stormwater problems in a
heavily urbanized area."
(Kathy Baskin is director of Projects of the Charles River Watershed
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