Reduce rainwater runoff by capturing and reusing it
Chattanooga has received over an inch of rain this week with other locations recording higher amounts.
With high rainfall rates, storm water runoff is a concern for the water quality of local streams and rivers.
Slowing down and collecting rain water will help combat this problem.
The Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute uses a comprehensive system to capture and absorb rainwater runoff.
At your own home, you can follow the same steps with a smaller version rain barrel and then reuse the water.
Fast moving rainwater runoff will wash pollution into area creeks and rivers. It also causes erosion, which hurts the ecosystem by filling in habitat crevices and food sources with dirt.
"We wanted to have minimal impact on the river that we are right next to, and we wanted to capture as much of the storm water and have it filtered here naturally and use it when possible," Hayley Wise, Watershed Coordinator at the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute, explained.
To accomplish this goal, a cistern, bioretention area, and constructed wetlands are used on the institute’s property. The roof of the building is sloped to funnel rainwater into the cistern.
"It holds 6,000 gallons, but it can, if it were to overflow, there is a shoot that it comes down the side into the reflection pond," Wise described the cistern.
From the reflection pond, water will flow into the bioretention area filled with native plants.
"Those plants have long roots. And so, they'll absorb that water, filter that water out naturally, and make its way, we have a wetland as well. It will make its way towards our wetland and then out to the river," said Wise.
The cistern water can be used as either irrigation on the property or to flush the toilets inside the building.
You can apply these same concepts at your home with a rain garden and rain barrel.
"We think it's really important that people take ownership of smart water management on their own properties, and a rain barrel is a really easy first way to do that," Lucy Ellis, Water Quality Technician at Chattanooga Public Works, stated.
The rain barrel is set up underneath a gutter downspout and collects rain water.
It reduces the amount of water that flows off your property into the storm drain. Plus, you can reuse the water.
"People can attach a hose to the bottom and use that to water their lawn or garden plants. They can also use that water to wash their car if they wanted to install a pump," advised Ellis.
Chattanooga Public Works is subsidizing the cost of rain barrels for Chattanooga residents.
Rain barrels cost $39 for city of Chattanooga property owners and $69 for people living outside city limits.
The ordering for this year's event is finished, but you can still go by the event to see a barrel to decide if you want to purchase one next year.
They will be at the parking lot beside Finley Stadium Saturday, June 22 from 8AM until noon.