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Re: water for gardens

  • Subject: Re: [cg] water for gardens
  • From: Lenny Librizzi <plantlot@rcn.com>
  • Date: Thu, 08 Jul 2004 09:50:27 -0400

We have been building systems for 3 years in NYC and have been looking at that problem from the beginning. We hope to begin water testing soon and are looking for funds to do so. The folks in Seattle are testing the water in their systems this season.
It is a good idea to inspect the roof you will be collecting from. Urban rooftops can collect all sorts of things not just heavy metals.
To try to limit contaminants, starting in 2003 we upgraded the systems with "roofwashers" which are simple diverters to direct the first "wash" from the roof which will have the largest concentration of contaminants to a small collector which can be emptied after each rain. 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 or washing.
Several horticultulturists that we have talked to feel that it is rainwater so what are we worried about.
You are welcome to visit and see the systems first hand.

Lenny Librizzi

Lenny LibrizziOn Thu, 8 Jul 2004 07:01:13 -0400, Maria B. Pellerano <maria@rachel.org> wrote:

Hi all,

I am just curious if people are worried about contaminants in the roof
water. We have a major soil lead problem in our city and the garden has
tested low in the past. We have been concerned about harvesting roof water
because of asbestos and lead. The lead on the roofs would come from the
airborne sources from building demolition, exterior renovations, and the
local battery factory. We have legal issues as well to deal with but that
is a different problem.

Just wondering,

Suydam Street Community Garden
New Brunswick, NJ

Maria Pellerano, Associate Director
Environmental Research Foundation
Rachel's Environment & Health News
P.O. Box 160, New Brunswick, NJ  08903-0160
Phone: (732) 828-9995; Fax: (732) 791-4603
E-mail: maria@rachel.org; Web site: http://www.rachel.org/
----- Original Message -----
From: "Lenny Librizzi" <plantlot@rcn.com>
To: "Lynn M. Gregor" <gregor@postoffice.ag.ohio-state.edu>;
Sent: Wednesday, July 07, 2004 4:06 PM
Subject: Re: [cg] water for gardens

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
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
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

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

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
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).
site is not in between houses but near a park.  Long term they may get
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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