Water limitations in the summer are a serious and increasing problem in the Pacific Northwest.
We have lived on Pete's Mt. just south of Lake Oswego for 35 years, gardening the same space that whole time. On 2 acres, we have a large vegetable garden, modest orchard, and several ornamental beds and borders. In recent years, it has become apparent that we are in a water limited area; water levels in the aquifer have dropped causing many of us to worry about long-term sustainability of the area and the impact of overuse of domestic water as well as irrational use of water for irrigating huge lawns and wasteful methods of irrigating other plants. Our community water system, upon which 90 homes depend, is probably the most expensive water system in the state. The water supply on this ridge is further jeopardized by the addition of many additional homes due to an unwelcome proposal of a large subdivision that ballot measure 49 may eventually prevent from being created.
Given these concerns, we installed a rainwater collection system at our home this past summer. We obtained a small grant from the state Watershed Enhancement Board to do this as a demonstration project. We purchased a used 20,000 gallon tank and had it buried on our property. Then we installed a system of collection pipes that receive water from a few of the downspouts on our house and garage. We installed a pump in the tank to supply the collected water to the areas we intend to irrigate. The water lines from the tank go to each of the major planting areas around our property and have timer controls to manage the irrigation in an automated way. The final step we will complete this spring is to lay out drip irrigation lines to all of these vegetable, fruit, and ornamental beds, providing a more predictable and managed (and hopefully more efficient) supply of water on an as needed basis.
The cost of the entire project, even without the grant funds, is far less than the cost of installing a new well and the quality of the water for irrigation purposes is terrific.
We began collecting water in our system at the end of the summer. The tank was completely filled by January 14! We are convinced that this is an approach that many other gardeners should consider as water becomes an even more precious resource and as we all become aware of our needs to be responsible and sustainability-oriented citizens.
posted 5 years, 1 month ago
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