Articles, Blog

Harvesting Rainwater for Irrigation | The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation


– When you’re thinking
about curb appeal, there’s one part of
houses and buildings that are totally overlooked. I’m talking about that half-pipe hanging on the edge of our roofs. Yep, gutters. They’re so simple, and yet they catch all
the rain like a champ. But most of that rain
just goes down the drain. It turns out that the greenest way to deal with all that water might be to tuck it in a
big underground bucket. Here’s Alie Ward to explain. (light music) – In the heart of
Los Angeles, California, there is a hilltop sanctuary
that pops with green despite Southern California’s
semiarid climate. Founded in 1973 by Andy Lipkis, this plot of land wasn’t
always so verdant. Andy spearheaded a plan to grow this space into
a hidden gem of nature, trails and learning, and
he called it TreePeople. Beneath the surface here,
TreePeople has another hidden gem, which nourishes all of this land. It is a 218,000 gallon rainwater cistern. – A cistern, that’s just
another name for tank, and so it’s a rain tank
that stores rainwater that falls mostly on your roof. You collect it in your rain gutters and send it to the tank, and then you have stored water, water you can use right away
for irrigating your garden, growing your trees, keeping
your landscape alive. – Built in 2002,
it’s made of concrete and has a diameter of 100 feet. And while cisterns have
been around for centuries, it’s Andy’s application
of rainwater cisterns to the problem of recurring
water shortages in Los Angeles that’s so innovative. I met up with Andy to
talk about the benefits of rainwater cisterns in everyday
life and in emergencies. In designing this, did
you have any inspiration from nature at all? – Yes, we’ve bio-mimicked,
copied the engineering model of an oak tree. – Oh! – And that’s exactly what this is, an oak tree that’s got a canopy that’s 100 feet in diameter, like this. – Andy explained how
the analogy continues. The root system of a tree captures water, just like a sponge or a tank. But Andy’s goals extend beyond harvesting rainwater in cisterns to what that water can grow, trees. Trees themselves provide important canopy and cooling for communities
in hot climates. When you look out and
you’re looking at the city and the trees kind of juxtaposed, is that pretty much what
your life’s work is, is trying to figure out how
to incorporate more tress in the city? – So, one of our next goals is to create a protective
tree canopy cover over communities across Los Angeles, done with them to protect them from the new, severe heat. (light music) – In Los Angeles, the
current system of runoff sends rainwater downhill, along
with pollutants it picks up. All of that filters into
the Los Angeles River and then flows straight into the ocean. Instead Andy wants to capture every drop of scarce rainfall in cisterns and use it for land
irrigation, community building and to create a better home for all of us. They say big trees, little acorns. It all starts somewhere. – It does, and I just have to stretch that to say the tallest tree in the world is the California coast redwood, and it comes from one of the
smallest seeds in the world. When it sprouts, it’s nearly microscopic. And that to me represents our dream.

One Comment

  1. E A Author

    You might want to mention these are illegal in many parts of the country and there are people in jail today for using these at their own houses.

    Reply

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *