The Northern Neck Soil & Water Conservation District assisted the Northern Neck Farm Museum in Burgess with grant administration and installation of a rainfall harvest/collection cistern and irrigation line. Grant funds for 75 percent of equipment and materials were obtained from the USDA Rural Development Community Gardens Program. The Farm Museum provided the remaining 25 percent of the cash funding as well as installation costs and labor.
The winning bid for materials was Tidewater Septic and Rain Harvest, Inc., of King George, Virginia, who also provided valuable technical assistance and labor for the installation process.
This project represents a fine example of a best management practice (BMP) in conservation of natural resources and in stormwater management. In this rainfall harvesting, roof rainwater is being diverted from downspouts to underground piping and then stored for later use. At the same time, this process reduces the potential for erosion of the surrounding soil on the ground, as well as the possibility of excessive rainwater carrying away nutrients and other pollutants into nearby waters.
Cisterns and rain barrels—a smaller version of the same best management practice—can be used to back up the regular water supply for household uses that do not require potable water, such as gardening, car washing, pet washing, flushing, and more. A one-inch rainfall from a 20 by 40- foot roof will yield 500 gallons of rainwater that could be diverted and stored for use later, saving on groundwater use, and saving dollars as well.
At the Farm Museum, rainfall from the Museum exhibit hall roof will be collected in two 1050 gallon underground poly tanks and used to support water needs that include irrigation of the teaching vegetable garden, which is managed by the Northern Neck Master Gardener Association volunteers. Over 50 local youth have participated in vegetable gardening classes on site the past several summers, and excess produce in the amount of 1000 to 2000 pounds has been donated to a local food bank program.
Volunteers from the Farm Museum and the Master Gardeners were on hand to help with the project installation. Questions on this project and rainfall harvest may be directed to the Northern Neck Soil & Water Conservation District, 804-333-3525. Ext. 102, or to firstname.lastname@example.org.