AU saves water on campus with prototype project

AUBURN, AL (WTVM) - A large cistern situated on Auburn University's campus collects rain from the roof of a building and feeds a nearby rain garden.

This project, lead by the Office of Sustainability, introduces the community to practices in water conservation and storm water management.

"It is captured in the cistern and it can hold up to 1,000 gallons and when the landscaping services needs the water they can use it as well as overflow. They can also water the rain garden in this area," explains Jennifer Morse with AU's Office of Sustainability.

In an urban setting, rain runs off into storm drains, collecting pollutants on its way downstream.

On AU's campus, the water flows into Parkerson Mill Creek, on to Mobile Bay and ultimately into the Gulf of Mexico.

"Everywhere we live is hardening and is covered with driveways and roads and when it rains, especially as heavy as it does here, it just runs down and floods the creek and we get flash flooding," says Morse, "This system allows us to capture and slow down the water."

Over the next three years, a team will monitor the chemical analysis of the roof water. They also will see which plants grow the best and how effective rain gardens are in clay-type soil.

Although this a pilot project, Auburn hopes these concepts will be expanded and implemented regionally.

Experts say this method basically produces free water that can be used for anything except drinking water.

"If everyone installed these throughout their neighborhoods and campus, there would be a lot less water to contribute to flash flooding," explains Morse.

On Tuesday, October 8th, officials are inviting the community meet on Cater Lawn from 3:30 PM to 5:30 PM to help install storm drain markers around campus as a friendly reminder not to litter.

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