Building a rainwater harvesting system…. by the numbers!

It wouldn’t have been a celebration without a few words about the importance of the Rainwater Harvesting System to the Community Garden and our neighbourhood.

Rainwater Harvesting…. By the Numbers

Thank you, everyone, for coming! We wanted to take a quick opportunity to tell you about the structure and rainwater harvesting system at the garden. It looks impressive, and you will be even more impressed when I tell you exactly what you are here to celebrate. What you see has been built by:

  • $7600 in cash grants
  • $5200 of in-kind services & donated materials
  • 75+ hours of grant writing, editing & coordination
  • 21 different volunteers contributed over 250 hours to build the structure – 74 & 72 are the ages of our oldest volunteers…. and 5 the youngest! We’re also very proud of the fact that we had no injuries on site!
  • 1 building mascot
  • 650 screws holding down the metal on the roof
  • 56 hurricane ties holding the roof to the structure itself….. and 560 nails securing those hurricane ties!
  • 30 lbs of screws and nails
  • and, 12 trips with the Menno S. Martin cube van to ferry materials back and forth to the building site
  • countless calories burned!!

But, what’s also countless are the relationships formed among neighbours, some meeting and working together for the first time, the laughter shared, the sense of community and the goodwill generated by working hard together. We always had enough people to accomplish what we needed to do each weekend.

But, our real pride & joy is the roof. At 462 sq. ft., it will collect 852L of water during a 1″ rainfall event! The system’s total capacity at any given time is 4000L (about 665 small watering cans) and over the course of a full gardening season, we can collect over 10,000L of water.

Speaking of rain… one, is the number of hours we were trapped under the newly installed roof during a massive downpour on August 2nd. We encountered a little bit of rain on other building days, but never enough to stop us from working!

But most of all, we are lucky to have this structure, we are beyond fortunate. We have the resources to secure grants & in-kind contributions and the skills to make it all happen.

As a resource, we can produce or grow more water, it’s not substitutable or replaceable. 800 million people in the world still lack clean, safe drinking water and just 33% of what is spent on bottled water every year would pay to provide clean water for the 800 million who don’t have it. While 75% of the world’s water is extracted for industrial use and many populations struggle to water crops and grow food… we can count ourselves fortunate. We only had to work for 2 years to solve our water problems at the garden; our ideas was supported very early on by the City of Kitchener and every door kept opening to help see this project realized.

And you, by being here to celebrate and witness this occasion, are witness to the power of community. You are now, also, guardians and protectors of this space. We’re all in this together and we all have a responsibility for it’s success.

 Water does not resist. Waterloo flows. When you plunge your hand into it, all you feel is a caress. Water is not a solid wall, it will not stop you. But water always goes where it wants to go, and nothing in the end can stand against it. Water is patient. Dripping water wears away a stone. Remember that, my child. Remember you are half water. If you can’t go through an obstacle, go around it. Water does.

Margaret Atwood, The Penelopiad, 2005


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