The Norman Transcript

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May 8, 2014

More residents using rainwater to reduce water consumption

NORMAN — Recent area droughts got gardeners’ attention.

Using rainwater to its maximum potential — rainwater harvesting — became more of a priority with many homeowners, slowing it down a bit and repurposing it to landscapes or other destinations while still sending it to the watershed.

“It’s something that I wanted to do for a long time,” said Norman homeowner John Rushton, who is having his first 600-gallon rainwater catchment system installed in southwest Norman. “I wanted to be sustainable and off the grid. … Water is kind of the foundation of a garden and a landscape.”

Rushton’s above-ground system was designed by Paul Wellman. He is doing much of the installation himself and plans a second 800-gallon tank.

“It’s great,” said Debbie Smith, environmental manager for the city of Norman. “You can put it wherever you want it and use it when you want to.”

Donated 55-gallon, food-grade rain barrels were popular at past city of Norman giveaways, she said. The city is working on finding grants or more donated food-grade barrels for an upcoming giveaway.

“We don’t have a budget for this,” Smith said. In the city’s first rain barrel giveaway last year, the city had 80 barrels and 450 people showed up to receive them.

“Definitely that’s just one of the many ways people can reduce water consumption or runoff,” Smith said.

In the meantime, many homeowners are creating their own rainwater harvesting or catchment systems, finding sources for barrels ranging from discarded potable-water containers to buying them at a local hardware store.

“Bigger is always going to be better,” Jason Vogel, Oklahoma State University professor and storm water specialist, said about rain barrels. “People are realizing the benefits of rain water catchment even more.”

A 1-inch rain on a 1,000-square-foot roof produces about 621 gallons of water, he said.

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