Can you answer the question: “Where does my water come from?”
Here we are in California, a state where we have lived in drought conditions 35 out of the last 100 years (that’s 35%) of the time. And yet, we are not in the habit of managing our water sources and water use for drought conditions as a norm. A good starting point is knowing your water source(s), so you can make the best personal choices to conserve the source. In fact, it's useful to remember that you are a part of your water sources' ecosystem. Your choices regarding use and reuse have a direct impact on it's vitality. If you are an East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) customer, your water source is the Mokelumne River and it’s ecosystem.
Free Cisterns Available Through the Oakland Rain Barrel Program
Wholly H2O is teamed up with the Oakland Rain Barrel Program to get the word out about the high-quality FREE WATERWATER HARVESTING CISTERNS made by Bushman Tanks, up to 640 gallons available FOR FREE.
That’s why Wholly H2O took to the streets during this past Friday’s Oakland Art Murmur. Mani Niall of Sweet Bar Bakery shared his sidewalk at 24th and Broadway with with our large rain cisterns offered by City of Oakland FOR FREE until December 2012. We gave away Mokelumne River water (aka, Oakland tap water) to thirsty Murmurittes. People were initially perplexed. Not a single person (well, ok, the was one...) knew what or where the Mokelumne River is. (By the way, for those who asked, the Mokelumne River is not part of the Hetch Hetchy system whioch brings Tuolumne River water to San Francisco). Most had never stopped to consider what source EBMUD tapped to deliver clean and yummy water to its customers.
Wow, what great fun! As soon as we got a few tanks on the sidewalk we were immediately swarmed with Oaklanders wanting to know how they could get a FREE CISTERN, or two, or three. People hugged us, high-fived us, got tears in their eyes when we connected their drink of Mokelumne River with what they could do to help be responsible participants of the Mokelumne River ecosystem as well as the ecosystem here in Oakland where they are using that water. We never even got take a drink of water ourselves. Old, young, black, white, Asian, gay, straight – there was no barrier to loving the idea of getting FREE CISTERNS from this program and setting them up at home or their business. One man even called the landlord of his apartment complex on the spot to get the ball rolling!
That’s what we’re hoping every resident and business owner will do. Even if you can’t get an entire rainwater harvesting system set up before the rains start this year, get your barrels now and set them up for 2013. The point is that rainwater harvesting is a very useful, localized form of water management, even if the only thing you do is store it for earth quake back up water. Keep in mind that along with the Hayward Fault, there are several other fault lines in the area of our water supply pathway. Get high quality tanks for free now and set them up as you can.
How Much Water Can I Capture?
Even if you have just 1000 square feet of catchment area (aka, roof), and there is 1” of rain, you can capture 600 gallons of water. Yup, I am not kidding, 600 gallons. Since it rains an average of 22” in Oakland, you have the potential of harvesting 13,200 gallons of water. Use our water capture potential tool to estimate your specific potential. (Scroll down, it's in the right hand column).
Now you can see why we encourage people to “invest” in larger cisterns as opposed to a 65 gallon rain barrel. If you are going to set up your downspouts to capture rain, DO IT UP! Go for the biggest cistern you can fit. Fortunately, the program is offering a variety of Bushman tanks, even slimlines, for free. You can get up to 640 gallons of cistern storage. For schools and other institutions and businesses, there may be a possibility for obtaining larger amounts of storage. Contact the Oakland Rain Barrel Program to inquire.
Mokelumne River Watershed
We want people in Oakland to be knowledgeable and emotionally connected to their water source. That way, when you turn on the tap, you can say to yourself, “Hey, this water is from the Mokelumne River, coming to me from over 90 miles away – what’s my best way to use this water respectifully?” In fact, I like to think, “What is my best form of being a fellow-feature of the Mokelumne River Watershed?” Whatever you do here in Oakland is going to have an direct impact on what happens way over where the Mokelumne River water is facing declining salmon runs.
Mokelumne River Watershed, 90 miles from Oakland
The Mokelumne River is a part of the San Joaquin River Basin. EBMUD has a created a masterplan for the Mokelumne River Watershed. “The Mokelumne Watershed Land Use Master Plan establishes District policy and provides long-term management direction on land use, recreation, and resource management for District–owned lands within the Mokelumne Watershed, with the goal of protecting water quality and ecologic health in a financially sustainable manner.”
EBMUD will be hosting a Mokelumne River Clean-up this Saturday as part of the California Coastal Clean up Day. This is a GREAT opportunity for those of us getting our water from the Mokelumne River through EBMUD water services to get to know our rover source. Will you be there?Why Rainwater Harvesting is a Form of Water Source Stewardship
One very direct way to be responsible for your own water source and use the least amount possible is through localized rainwater harvesting right where you are. Rainwater harvesting is nothing new. Of course, this is exactly how humans have been actively gathering water for thousands of years. Rainwater harvesting helps us reduce our potable water demands from rivers, ground water, and reservoirs. You can use rainwater to water your garden, and if the building is dual-plumbed, to flush your toilets. Rainwater harvesting also reduces stormwater runoff. For what is stormwater runoff other than rain that is not captured for use where it is falling, and instead is left to run helter skelter down driveways, sidewalks and streets, picking up pollutants to dump untreated into local streams, bays and oceans?
Rainwater Harvesting Class
October Art Murmur
We’ll be at the October 5th Art Murmur once again, giving away Mokelumne River on Tap and showing you examples of rainwater harvesting cisterns available for FREE to Oakland residents, institutions and businesses through the City of Oakland. Look for us at the SW corner of 24th and Broadway, next to the best cupcakes in town.