Beyond the Build


One Drop Saved is One Drop Earned

For the past three years I have watched many municipalities around the Southeast consistently run low with their water resources during the summer months. New dams can be built, but populations will continue to grow, which should make conserving this resource an extremely important goal for everyone.

When we built our new barn adjoining our office building in Birmingham, we decided to collect rain run-off from the roof as a way to conserve water. We built two stone pedestals on either end of the roof and then put a 2500-gallon water container on top of each. We wrapped old barn wood around the tanks for insulation and to make it look nice, and covered them with pieces of reused barn tin. We built an open gutter system that drains all the rain off of the roof into the water silos. With a normal annual rainfall, each one of these containers will fill up about 15 times a year. The rainwater is used to water the garden and support the plants and grass without having to dip into city water.

Rainwater is cheaper for us, better for the plants, and helps the environment. There is no reason we all shouldn’t look to this resource. Also, keeping the grass and plants healthy and watered means they can more effectively filter the regular runoff from our parking lot, which was constructed without curbs so as to have no single point of storm water discharge into out water garden.

Water is a valuable commodity, and the more we can do to conserve water, the better off we will all be. What can you do to cut down on water use?

Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.