The Rainwater Harvesting class at the Copperas Cove Public Library on March 29 involved not only information, but hands-on learning.
Dotty Woodson, whose many titles with Texas A&M University’s AgriLife Research program includes rainwater harvesting professional, extension specialist and horiculturalist — relayed a long list of facts about the benefits of rainwater harvesting to a class of more than three dozen people.
“Most people want to talk about harvesting rainwater during a drought,” Woodson said. Cities, in particular, must talk about what to do to conserve water when the next drought will inevitably occur.
“It’s a problem not just here, but all around the world,” Woodson said.
The growth of urban populations has greatly increased the demand for water. More and more municipalities are calling on their residents to cut back on water usage.
“Conservation is the easiest way to do that,” Woodson said.
Rainwater harvesting is fairly simple and inexpensive, according to Woodson. Rainwater falling on the roof of a home, shed or other building, or through the gutters, can be collected and used.
It is possible to collect over 38,000 gallons of rainwater per year off a 1,200-square-foot roof, with just the 32 inches of rain that falls in Central Texas in an average year, Woodson said.
The rainwater that is collected should not be consumed by humans, but it can be used for animals, to irrigate lawns and gardens, in aquariums, for firefighting and other purposes, Woodson said. The rainwater is salt free, as well as calcium and chlorine free.
When rainwater is not collected, it runs off into area creeks and rivers, picking up contaminants, pollution and debris along the way, Woodson said. That makes it necessary for municipalities to spend extra money to clean the water before it reaches the homes and businesses.
Thus, both individuals and cities save money when rainwater is harvested.
Air conditioning condensation can also be harvested, though the process can be a little more complex, as Woodson explained.
Woodson challenged the class to do a home audit for water leaks. “We lose 12 percent of water through leaks in the home,” she said. That includes small leaks in toilets or dripping faucets.
James and Janette Hooten already have barrels to harvest rainwater. They came to the class to get another.
“We mainly use the water outside,” James Hooten said.
Participants in the class could create their own rain barrel, with Keep Copperas Cove Beautiful covering some of the cost.
Woodson encouraged the class to paint the barrels after they were fitted with a spigot and insect netting and taken home.
“The less light that gets in, the less chance there is for algae to grow,” Woodson said.
The class was sponsored by the Lampasas River Watershed Partnership, Keep Copperas Cove Beautiful, Texas A&M AgriLife Research, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, and the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board.
More information on rainwater harvesting is available at rainwaterharvesting.tamu.edu.