Cisterns: The Original Rain Barrel
Robert Thompson sent in this business card from one of 23 New Orleans business which made cisterns in 1909. Robert writes, “The original rain barrel! A few even survive today as evidence New Orleans can retain and use rainwater. How about a tank which could slip easily into the crawl space underneath our many shotgun structures…lot of potential storage there.”
Faubourg St. John neighbor Michael Ward noted, “I have a company that installs rainwater pillows for under the house, rain barrels, and custom cisterns. We have been doing it for 8 years.
Problem: New Orleans is below sea level and sinking, and the city’s pumping system designed to alleviate flooding is often overwhelmed during heavy rains. At 60+ inches of rain per year, the Greater New Orleans area sees some of the highest annual rainfall in the country. Storm runoff during heavy rain events causes flooding that affects the well-being, property, and livelihood of every New Orleans inhabitant. The city’s pumping system expends a colossal amount of resources to pump water, full of pollutants from city streets, into Lake Pontchartrain.
Solution: Harvesting water in rain barrels helps divert some of the water that would otherwise run off of impervious surfaces into storm drains and contribute to street flooding. By catching and recirculating water locally, residents can help manage storm water runoff from their property. Residents can use the storm water around the home and garden, helping them conserve their municipal water use. Green Light plans to implement a small-scale rain barrel program for its backyard gardeners, who can use the water to grow their vegetables.