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Re: water for gardens

  • Subject: Re: [cg] water for gardens
  • From: Lenny Librizzi <plantlot@rcn.com>
  • Date: Wed, 07 Jul 2004 16:06:39 -0400

To update a posting on the list serv from March 28, 2003:
In 2002, we built 7 water harvesting systems in community gardens in NYC and built 13 more in 2003. We roughly calculated that we collected 14,000 gallons of water in the 2002 drought (saving enough for over 9,000, 1.6 gallon toilet flushes.
This year the water saving will be approximately 250,000 gallons.
To date we have used recycled reddish colored olive barrels that hold 190 liters. (~50 gals.) Where the roof collecting area is large enough we connected the barrels together with flexible pool hoses low on the barrels so that all of the barrels fill up at the same rate and empty when the spigot is opened.
We have improved on the connections using a locknut fitting used on swimming pools to attach to the barrels and PCV piping instead if the pool hoses.
We have also used large single tanks in 300, 500, 750 and 1000 gallon tank sizes where we are collecting from larger roofs.
The barrels are covered with tight fitting lids that have a small hole covered with a mosquito proof
screen to allow for air pressure to enter and exit and water to flow freely.
The barrels are elevated on concrete block and 2X8 or 2X10 lumber platforms. The blocks
are 3-4' apart to carry the weight and the barrels are high enough to accept a watering can or to have a hose attached to connect to soaker hoses.

If you are trying to collect with open barrels a secured vinyl screen should let the water pass but not the mosquitos.
With no adjacent roof you might consider installing a small pond or catchment area in the lowest part of the garden where rainwater would be channeled. You could then transfer the water to closed barrels or tanks before the mosquitos take over.
We are looking for some simple manual metods for "pressurizing" the flow of water to use with drip irrigation systems or where the barrels cannot be raised high enough for gravity to get the water to higher elevations or where the barrels can't be located at the highest spot in the garden.
This year we hope to try a solar powered pump and maybe a bicycle power pump.

Here are some links to bicycle pumps

An overflow pipe directs the excess water to a planted area. The barrels are also secured with nylon rope and eyehooks to the adjacent shed, casita or building to keep the barrels from
shifting, falling over when empty or being pulled down by a child.
Starting in 2003 we upgraded the systems with "roofwashers" which are simple diverters to direct the first "wash" from the roof to a small collector which can be emptied and the "cleaner" water flows to the barrels.
We make it clear that the water is non potable and to be used for watering plants only, not for drinking.
We have pictures of the built systems but this list serv doesn't like attachments.

You might also try these links


Good luck.

Lenny Librizzi

On Fri, 02 Jul 2004 10:34:10 -0400, Lynn M. Gregor <gregor@postoffice.ag.ohio-state.edu> wrote:


I am working with a garden that is developing in Garfield Heights, a suburb
of Cleveland. They have no access to water and the fire department will
not allow them to access the fire hydrants (as they do in Cleveland). The
site is not in between houses but near a park. Long term they may get more
help from the city - but in the short term, they have no water.

Any ideas on getting water to their site???

If you know of any large water tanks, where can you get them and how much
do they cost?  We have a plan for rain barrels but there is no downspout
nearby to collect from could be problematic because West Nile Virus from
mosquitoes is a big concern around here.

Any suggestions you have would be very helpful and much appreciated.

Thanks for your time!

Lynn Gregor
Program Coordinator
Community Gardening
Ohio State University Extension, Cuyahoga Co.

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