City of Chattanooga launching project to repurpose rainwater

City of Chattanooga launching project to repurpose rainwater

April 6th, 2012 by Holly Leber in Life Entertainment

Beckett Honicker, left, of HigherGround Rainwater Systems, helps students in Hixson HIgh School's Agri-Science class build rainwater-harvesting barrels.

Photo by Tim Barber /Times Free Press.


Rain barrels may be sponsored at a school or community center at multiple price levels or purchased for home use for $60. The handcrafted, hand-painted rain barrels will be delivered from Higher Ground Rainwater Systems. Proceeds will help to continue the Project Rain Barrel program in schools and community centers. For more information, contact the city of Chattanooga Department of Education, Arts & Culture at 425-7823.

The Department of Education, Arts & Culture, in collaboration with Councilwoman Carol Berz, is spearheading an effort to conserve water in Chattanooga.

Project Rain Barrel, in which Chattanooga youth are learning to build, install and utilize rain barrels, is being launched across the city, beginning with Brainerd District 6 Saturday, April 14, at the Brainerd Farmers Market at Grace Episcopal Church on Belvoir Avenue. The goal is to expand into more schools, recreation centers and businesses as the project progresses.

"It's a collaborative effort that engages youth in arts and social issues focusing on environment, water conservation and sustainable practices," said Missy Crutchfield, administrator at the Department of Education, Arts & Culture.

In late March, a test run took place at Hixson High School. Currently, the department is finalizing plans to bring Project Rain Barrel to Tyner Academy and Tyner Middle Academy and to expand into other schools as well.

"We are excited about this opportunity. It is right in line with the District 6 Master Redevelopment Plan and a perfect example of government partnering with the public to bring about positive change in the area," Berz said in a news release.

Conserving rainwater can allow it to be repurposed for different applications around the home, including flushing toilets, bathing and washing dishes. With proper filtration, rainwater can be used for drinking.

"Saving water is a wonderful goal," said Kathleen Russell, who operates the Brainerd Farmers Market. She said she approaches conservation from the standpoint of food production. Rain barrels can help with water conservation and can be used to help make crops plentiful.

"The rain barrel project can be seen as part of that in that what we're doing at the farmers market is in support of local food producers," she said. "We are all about creation care, and human beings are part of creation. The destruction of the environment not only counters creation itself, but we are ruining our own lives in the process."

Lisa Lemza, who is in charge of the community garden at Grace Episcopal Church, emphasized the importance of learning to set up and use rain barrels properly.

"It can be an 800-pound paperweight if you don't set them up correctly," she said. Lemza is dedicated to promoting conservation within the Chattanooga area. "Water is precious, and we shouldn't be wasting it. Pretty simple."

In order for improvements to be made, said Beckett Honicker, general manager at Higher Ground, "we need to raise awareness about rainwater repurposing. Rain barrels are a really accessible first step."