Huge Water Barrels!

Several times I have witnessed a water truck at one of Columbia Association’s (CA) open space areas watering plants during dry spells of the summer. I just assumed that CA filled the truck at a facility using tap water, much like I would fill a watering can from a spigot at home. I assumed incorrectly.

One day I was at CA’s Maintenance Facility, and I spotted two huge cisterns at the backside of the building. I was about to meet up with John McCoy, watershed manager for CA’s Community Building and Sustainability Service Bureau, to talk about rain gardens at CA. But I needed to ask about these huge barrels out back. I was curious.

John was happy to talk to me about the big barrels. He told me that they were cisterns to hold rain water which would then be used to water plants on CA property. Each cistern holds 10,000 gallons, and together they gather rain water from one half of the back side of the Maintenance Facility roof.

I asked how much rain it took to filling up the cisterns and he said it only took about two inches of rain to fill the 20,000 gallon cisterns.  Imagine that! All that water, just from part of a roof.

Instead of the water running along a gutter, down the spout, into the yard, out onto the street, and into the storm gutters which feeds into one of the streams like it does at my home, this water gets collected to water the open space flower gardens when the weather gets dry.

Of course, during long spells between rains, CA has to fill the water trucks with tap water, but for a big portion of the year, they can rely on collected rain water.

It made me really glad to hear that CA doesn’t just talk the talk, but also walks the walk. CA doesn’t just ask residents to help with the environment by using rain barrels or building rain gardens. They are doing these things at their own facilities, too.


Melissa Sinclair works in the Communications & Engagement Division at Columbia Association (CA). Melissa recently moved to Columbia with her three-generation family. She has lived in more than a dozen cities and is looking forward to making Columbia, Md., her permanent home! Over the past year she has worked on losing weight, getting fit and doing volunteer work; she is now looking forward to working for CA after staying home with her family for the last several years. Melissa has a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and a master’s degree in educational administration. Click here to read more of Melissa’s Getting to Know CA series.


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Filed under Getting to Know CA, Green Initiatives, Watershed

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