TreePeople's Elementary School Rainwater Cistern

So far this year, exceptional storms have sent 82 billion gallons of runoff washing into the Pacific from the Los Angeles area. Not only is that a colossal waste of water in a state that spends vast sums to bring water in, but it’s also a pollutant, with the runoff picking up all sorts of junk on its way to the ocean. At schools like Open Charter Elementary School, runoff flows across big blacktopped surfaces, mixing with oil dropped by buses and cars before getting into storm drains, locals creeks, and backyards. In a nutshell, yuck. So TreePeople set to work constructing an 110,000-gallon rainwater cistern, hooked to a water treatment system, which would irrigate lush new landscaping around the school. ...Completed in the winter of 2004, the school is both greener—literally and figuratively—and cooler, thanks to the reduction in asphalt surfaces and increase in shade. The Open Charter Cistern cost $500,000, but a recent ABC News report indicates that California government and businesses are considering the viability of similar projects. TreePeople, a non-profit, is also responsible for several other stormwater management systems around LA (at parks, homes, and other schools), and they run educational programs, too. Many thanks to Brad Gibson for the tip! ::TreePeople [by KK]

Build your own rainwater cistern with instructions in the Building with Awareness video.