2nd UF Water Institute Symposium Abstract

Submitter's Name Thomas Becker
Session Name Poster Session: Human Dimensions of Water Sustainability 1
Category Human dimensions of water sustainability
Poster Number 105
Author(s) Thomas Becker,  UF/IFAS/ Lee County Extension
  Making Every Raindrop Count
  Objectives: Recently enacted Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ legislation forbids prohibitions on outdoor practices designed to improve water quality, conserve water and reduce non-point source pollution. Heavy rainfall in Lee County, typically 30-40 inches of rain falls from April to November each year, contributes to the problems of urban fertilizer nutrient leaching and polluting neighborhood stormwater runoff. Homeowners typically can adopt two basic stormwater ‘source-control’ Best Management Practices (BMPs): rainwater harvesting and earth-shaping filtration techniques using native shrubs, trees, wildflowers and ornamental grasses. Both methods will hold or absorb pollutants including decaying organic matter and roof sediments, soil or rooftop nutrients, heavy metals, petroleum hydrocarbons, pathogens and other common pollutants. In Lee County, over 80% of Florida-Friendly landscapes and yards use one or more of these at-the-source control techniques. As a result, the agent began showing residents ‘how to’ construct rain barrels for their homes and ‘how to’ design and plant a rain garden. Methods: Starting in early 2007, the agent created workshops, a homeowner’s manual and a 22 minute DVD addressing ‘local’ rain barrel and rain garden concerns, including proper management and maintenance on both. Results: From February, 2007-October, 2009, 1270 rain barrels were constructed for 1620 Lee County resident. The estimated total water collected to date using the barrels, 840,000 gallons, would fill 57, 28’ x 14’ swimming pools. Conclusions: After multi-year instruction and outreach, state public policy initiatives, green building and community stormwater initiatives, Lee Counties hands-on rain water source control and rain garden demonstration techniques are helping achieve permanent behavior change by residents and helping to meet stricter watershed and stormwater treatment objectives.