Posts filed under ‘Rain Gardens’

Rainwater Recovery & Rain Gardens @ OWU


Rainwater Recovery and Rain Gardens at OWU

Rainwater recovery fits into the Waste Minimization category of the President’s Climate Commitment. Rain gardens could be implemented at OWU to consume recovered rainwater. Recovered rainwater could also be used to provide water for other plants on campus, reducing water usage. Grants to develop rain gardens exist. Students and faculty interested in plants (community gardens, botany, etc.) may be enlisted to develop raingardens.  Rainwater recovery and rain gardens could be a viable immediate action activity.

Rainwater Recovery

Rainwater recovery involves the automatic collection of rainwater during every rain through systems known as rainwater harvesting. The system utilizes water from runoff points such as roof gutters and ultimately diverts this water into a storage system such as a cistern. The water may also be diverted to rain gardens. Recovered water will primarily be used for non-potable purposes. Landscape watering is a good use of harvested water. A collection surface of just 2000 sq. ft. in our climate could bring in a supply of over 28,000 gallons in a year.

The basic components of a fully functioning rainwater harvesting system are:

  • Collection Surface (Roof surfaces)
  • Initial conveyance (Gutters and Downspouts)
  • Roof washer (first level of filtration in a full system and the primary level of filtration in a partial system)
  • Holding tanks (Cisterns- above or below ground)
  • Distribution and Fixtures (Pumps, Pipes, Standard plumbing fixtures)

Legal Issues: In order to carry this project out there are some legal issues that could need to be addressed. Ohio has some fairly stringent laws pertaining to water collection. Some of the laws are about things that are seemingly trivial and ones that we might easily overlook. The size of the storage unit, for example can be an issue. Ohio has size restrictions on cisterns, so this and other legal matters will need to be looked into comprehensively.

Aesthetic Issues: The aesthetics of a rainwater harvesting system should also be taken into consideration. There are many elements in the system that could be potential eyesores or worse. If a large cistern is being used it needs to be setup so it doesn’t obstruct anything. This is why underground cisterns are also a good option. However there are various drawbacks with them such as expense, the chance of destroying underground cables, pipes etc. More capital will be needed since there will also need to be a more efficient system of getting water from the underground cistern to the final destination above ground.

Current Geography 355 Project: Map storm water runoff as it exists on campus (roof and pavement) and identify potential sources of rainwater recovery on campus.  Document characteristics of the source (roof type, access to water, potential uses, water quality issues).  Goal: Campus water harvesting potential map.

Summary from Manav Menon (

Rain Gardens

A rain garden is a planted depression that is designed to allow rainwater runoff the opportunity to be absorbed from impervious urban areas like roofs, driveways, walkways, and compacted lawn areas. This reduces rain runoff by allowing stormwater to soak into the ground (as opposed to flowing into storm drains and surface waters which causes erosion, water pollution, flooding, and diminished groundwater). Rain gardens can cut down on the amount of pollution reaching creeks and streams by up to 30%. (source)

Rain garden types:


Funding: Grants for Rain Gardens are available from the Ohio Environmental Education Fund.  Two of the General Grants Awarded in 2008:

Franklin Soil and Water Conservation District, Central Ohio Rain Gardens, F09G-017, $49,742, Franklin County, OEEF Priority: Community Issues, Audience: General Public, Contact: Stephanie Suter,, 614-486-9613. Provide a series of educational workshops, brochures, a website, and demonstration projects to show residents how rain gardens can collect storm water runoff from downspouts, driveways and sidewalks to reduce flooding and prevent storm water pollution of waterways.  Volunteers will monitor storm water run off before and after rain garden installation to look for changes in both water quantity and quality.  Collaborators include the Cities of Columbus and Westerville, Friends of the Lower Olentangy Watershed, Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission, and Sierra Club Central Ohio Group.

Clermont Soil and Water Conservation District, Partnering to Protect Water Resources: A Rain Garden Demonstration and Education Project, F09G-018, $50,000, Clermont County, OEEF Priorities: Community Issues and Standards Based Education, Audience: Pre-Kindergarten – University, Contact: Paul Berringer,, 513-732-7075. Provides demonstration rain gardens on the campuses of each of the nine local school districts within Clermont County, plus the Grant Career Center in Bethel.  An accompanying classroom and field study curriculum will help teachers explain the installations and environmental benefits of rain gardens and rain barrels. A rain garden workshop for the general public will be held in conjunction with the installation of one of the rain gardens, and will be filmed by the Clermont County Today cable television program.  A printed guide and local Web page will instruct residents on how to create and register their own rain garden to help with storm water management.  Collaborators include the Clermont County Stormwater Management Department, Office of Environmental Quality and Office of Public Information, East Fork Watershed Collaborative, Greenacres Foundation, and Marvin’s Organic Gardens.

Summary from Jann Ichida (


March 1, 2009 at 4:11 pm 1 comment

Green OWU

Sustainability information, ideas, and news related to Ohio Wesleyan University's Campus Sustainability Task Force: Eric Algoe, Laurie Anderson (Chair), Julia Brooker, Gene Castelli, Karen Crosman, Amy Downing, Jann Ichida, Steve Ishmael, Jim Krehbiel, John Krygier, Kim Lance, Bart Martin, Sara Nienaber, Jim Peoples, Carol Poling, David Robbins, Chris Setzer, Shari Stone-Mediatore, Jack Stenger, Chuck Stinemetz, Paula Travis, Barb Wiehe, Tom Wolber.